Monday, December 08, 2014

Behind the scenes at the World Center Marriott

Starting with the end of the day first, you see here Melissa Hayes, Regional Director of New York's HELP/PSI Inc. summarizing observations from day-long excursion at the IHI National Forum in which a group of us had a chance to go behind the scenes of the Orlando World Center Marriott.  The purpose was to learn how the resort handles the flow of large volumes of visitors and delivers high levels of customer service in the front office, adheres to schedule in the banquet kitchen, manages daily housekeeping operations, runs a golf club, and tends to a multitude of details in events and convention services.  Our goal was to see if there were lessons from this kind of business that might be applied in health care settings.  Participants on the tour came from a variety of organizations in the US, Singapore, New Zealand, Scotland, Norway, Canada, Iceland, and the UK.

It was figuratively and literally a "soup to nuts" tour, with presentations on site from a variety of program managers.  Here you see New Zealand's Helen Mason with James Rothier, the senior banquet chef.  He gave a detailed view of the food preparation process for the thousands of meals served every day, whether for large conventions of the size represented by the IHI Forum (over 5000) or for smaller business and personal events that take place during the year.  We focused on food safety issues, but also worker safety in a busy work environment characterized by sharp knives, hot water and oil, cooking fires, and large movable containers.

On another front, a visit to the lost and found provided a reunion for Scotland's Michael Kellet with Sydia Dawkins, who, on the previous day, had returned to him a Blackberry he had lost in the seat cushions of one of the hotel's restaurants.  Sydia's boss, Mike Cord, explained the procedures followed when items were lost in the hotel (a common problem in hospitals, too!)  In a place the size of the Marriott, this amounts to thousands of objects per year, and they are kept in storage for up to six months on the chance that travelers will be delayed in claiming and retrieving them.

And so on, through many back corridors of the hotel, as we heard of the logistical challenges in a place of this size, many of which paralleled the service issues facing hospitals. At the debrief, my colleagues Marie Schall and Deborah Bamel (left) and I asked the participants to meet in small groups to compile and categorize their observations of key aspects of the hotel's procedure and to try to draw lessons for their home environments.  The categories shown on Melissa's group's sheet were echoed by the others in the room:  A strong focus on customer satisfaction; intensive and extensive training of staff in standardized approaches to the work environment; strong communication within and across operational divisions; an unending pursuit of high quality; a culture of collaboration, respect, and caring; and, above all, a commitment to associates' recognition and empowerment.

Janet Reeder from Kaiser Sunnyside Medical Center offered a visual summary of the latter point by capturing this hall of honor of associates who had been recognized for extraordinary work by their peers and supervisors.

I'm hoping other participants in the excursion will offer comments about the experience and expand on my brief summary.  Stay tuned over the next day or two as they arrive below.


M said...

As a participant in the day, a key takeaway was the value of looking at other industries to apply best practices in the delivery of healthcare. I was struck by the focus on employees which in turn improved guest satisfaction. I think this philosophy transcends industry and certainly transcends service industries. I also felt that although there were many positives, Marriott could further challenge themselves to improve mediums for employees feedback that result in suggestions for improvement.

Thanks for leading a great day!

Barry Carol said...


How would you rate most Boston area hospitals on efficiency and cost-effectiveness in the areas of food service and housekeeping as compared to what you observed at Marriott?

Two advantages that hotels have over hospitals in providing cost-effective service, in my opinion, are (1) they don’t have to deal with the equivalent of defensive medicine that can significantly drive up costs without improving outcomes and (2) they don’t have the equivalent of independent contractors (non-employee doctors) with practice privileges or, if they do, they do their job the way the hotel wants it done or they won’t be there very long.

One area that can significantly affect costs for hotels, though, is the presence or absence of unions. With unions, as in NYC, wages are likely to be higher and work rules more restrictive.

Helen Mason said...

Mike Cord from security gave us a great insight into customer centred care. The lost and found department keeps every single thing they find, regardless of their apparent monetary worth. "We don't know what their value is" said Mike. He was talking about value from the customer's perspective. They don't make any assumptions about what their customers do or don't value.

This concept is at the core of changing our discussions with patients from " What's the matter with you?" to "What matters to you?" so that we truly understand what our patients and their families value.

Helen Mason. Harkness Fellow and IHI Fellow. Bay of plenty District Health Board New Zealand.

via Sabriya Rice said...

Here's an excellent summary of the day by Sabriya Rice at Modern Healthcare:

The lede:

Hospital leaders struggling to improve the patient experience at their facilities may be able to benefit from insights gleaned from the hospitality industry. Put the customer, or in hospitals' case, the patient, front and center, said a variety of staff at the Marriott World Center in Orlando, Fla. Another major takeaway: Staff attitude matters when providing quality service.

A behind-the-scenes tour of the Marriott was offered Monday to a group of nearly 50 healthcare professionals attending an excursion at the Institute for Healthcare Improvement conference.

The Marriott's extra service manager, Cheryl Bott, who oversees phone services and manages all customer complaints, said part of her focus is hiring people with the right attitude. “We look for personality more than previous experience,” Bott said. “You have to want to take care of people. That's where it starts. Everything else can be taught.”