Leader of Team Marriott

Leader of Team Marriott How do the changes in customers’ purchasing power shape the way dining concepts are designed? Will this be something that will affect the way future designing concepts will be done?

Beyond just purchasing power, what is set to change based on what we are already seeing, is a shift towards trusting brands with purpose. The pandemic has forced people to take a pause on their lives and this has given people time to reflect. The rise of the aspirational mindset will also extend to the food and beverage options guests choose and we are working on demonstrating how it is possible to bridge luxury experience and personal responsibility. Sustainability will become the focal point of the experiences we design simply because it’s the right thing to do. We have a personal responsibility as one of the industry’s biggest players to lead this charge.

Due to economic uncertainties, consumers are more interested in reasonably priced products with core features rather than higher-priced, cutting-edge products. That’s not to say luxury dining will completely disappear, but we foresee that it would continue to evolve along with our consumers’ tastes.

In terms of designing future concepts, I envision the spaces we create to include technology driven solutions for a touchless experience, more private dining spaces and concepts that are environmentally friendly in their build and offerings.
 Has COVID-19 affected the way you create and hire teams to provide service towards customers?

In terms of hiring, not quite. We still look for the same qualities in prospective associates as we did even before the pandemic. Passion, dedication and creativity to the craft will still lay the foundation of an excellent chef in the post-pandemic world. Soft skills still remain an important aspect of any chef’s career. These ‘human abilities’ will take any aspiring chef to greater heights, if it’s coupled with a willingness to learn and a great attitude.

In terms of creating teams, definitely. Safety has become our biggest priority, we want to ensure our associates feel safe at work and of course, that our guests feel safe dining at our properties. We have had to relook how we execute experiences like buffets, which are typically self-service and include à la minute stations. Breakfast buffets are what many people look forward to during their stay! We had to also relook how our associates were trained to ensure that guests felt safe and that our offerings were still of the same quality.
As an industry leader, what advice do you have to give aspiring leaders, especially for those navigating a situation like providing hospitality during COVID-19?

The pandemic has definitely been tough on everyone, but I would encourage the next generation to not give up. The world of hospitality is changing, and a fresh perspective is key to staying at the forefront of the industry. Ultimately, the goal of any chef is still the same; to create an unparalleled experience for a guest – in fact I would say that our role is even more important now as the experiences we create offer guests a brief respite from the fatigue of the pandemic.

Steps that young leaders can take to navigate the situation could be to relook at safety standards and protocols. These are extremely important to have a firm grasp of, as consumers will expect high standards of safety to be implemented.  Guests will not patronize an establishment if they do not feel safe.

Additionally, the pandemic has accelerated, altered, or accentuated trends in the food and beverage space. I would encourage young leaders to not overlook these trends, and not treat them as temporary patters on the pandemic. We have to consider that some of these trends and behaviors are here to stay for the longer run; for example, people have been spending more time at home now due to the pandemic and there is a preference to consume food in their own homes, even as different markets have slowly eased social restrictions, takeaway and delivery preference are still at an all-time high and will need to be adapted to, for establishments to effectively attract and retain guests.

Hold on to your passion of the culinary arts, stay creative and always find ways to innovate.