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Walter Seib CEO of HMSHost International and Member of the ACROSS Advisory Board, Credit: HMS Host

To Buy or Not to Buy, That Is the Question

“We have found that people who feel at home and receive genuine attention from attentive staff are prepared to stay longer and spend more. Attention is our secret ingredient for success.”

By Walter Seib

Let me tell you a story. The 7:20 red-eye flight had just touched down on a miserable winter’s morning at Heathrow. My fellow passengers and I were groggy, but not everyone had business meetings to immediately attend. I had mentally promised to buy myself a shot of espresso at the first café I came across. After about five minutes of walking, I was greeted without a smile and with no eye contact. I kept walking.

As a food and beverage operator, when seeking to maximize revenue per square meter, focus can often become consumed by ways to push turnover growth. This overlooks the most basic marketing principle; in both captive- and open-market settings, consumers always have an option: to buy or not to buy. At HMSHost International, we prefer an alternative approach to achieving structural commercial success. We seek to create personal atmospheres in our stores because we want to create connecting elements in the lives of our guests. We have found that people who feel at home and receive genuine attention from attentive staff are prepared to stay longer and spend more. Attention is our secret ingredient for success.

From our associates’ first acknowledgement, to the ambience, quality, and taste of our menu items as well as engagement with other guests, every element of our planning, branding, and operations centers around satisfying the needs of our guests. In fact, one could say that HMSHost International devotes its attention to creating a warm and welcoming environment and providing hospitable service to our guests 24/7. In addition, contrary to the turnover obsession, it is our associates on the ground who carry out this business objective on daily basis. Without the right people, we can’t provide the right attention.

Currently, more than 11,500 associates work for us across 19 countries. Each associate has been selected based on a combination of their own unique skill set, the respective role and team, and their natural ability to provide attention. This is how we’ve transformed our more than 500 F&B stores from food outlets into “places to be” – places in which overview, hospitality, and attention to detail are priorities, in which people feel at ease.

Our continuous investment in the personal development and hospitality training of our associates is, therefore, essential. This process enhances each of our associates’ natural approach and enables them to serve each guest with exactly the right level of personal attention that is needed and in context. Talented associates can pursue opportunities to develop their (international) careers within HMSHost International, as their expertise, enthusiasm, and experience is priceless to our business. They are our biggest assets.

Our culture of attention explains why you might easily relate to HMSHost International associates as your friends or your own colleagues. They truly feel responsible for satisfying the needs of our guests, and they simultaneously love to entertain and build pleasant atmospheres. They take pride in creating great places to be. They understand how their behavior can contribute to the guest experience as well as your profitability. The real win starts within.

The pivoting of our approach to being guest-centered as well as revenue-raising has enabled us to sharpen our results. Our combination of franchise and bespoke own-brands provides our guests with trend-oriented choices, along with an optimal match in customer experience, need, and service. This diversity translates into a larger number of satisfied customers. In the past five years, our sales have grown from €233 million to €585 million, representing a 250% increase.

Wherever we are, from shopping malls to airports, by placing our guests at the center of our actions and creating places people want to be, we provide our guests with the perfect environments in which to choose to buy.


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