Searcys launches new School of Service, built on 170+ years of hospitality experience

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With standards of service and hospitality product knowledge continuing to be a priority in the hospitality and events industry, UK events caterer and restaurateur Searcys has taken a lead with the introduction of a new School of Service.

The school is built on over 170 years of hospitality experience and includes three training modules – the Searcys customer journey, School of Service essentials and School of Service masterclass – covering everything from understanding guest requirements through to getting ready for service, how to lay a table correctly to serving drinks correctly.

Each training course is aimed to drive consistency throughout venues, ensuring all teams understand the care and hospitality needed to provide exceptional service.

Searcys head of learning and development Daniel Rowlinson commented, “Our purpose has always been to make the people we serve and work with feel special by being consistently exceptional. However, we understand that this requires knowledge, intent and consistency from all of us. Our new School of Service aims to deliver just that, ensuring that everyone is familiar with the standards of hospitality needed to drive exceptional service and encourage customers to return.

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“We have trained over 30 service champions and our aim is to ensure that over 80% of front-of-house and event managers graduate from Searcys School of Service by the end of 2020.”

Two different mindsets emerge within in-house event planners

Searcys used the outcomes of its recent event planner research to support the development of the School of Service.

The report, released in conjunction with venue marketplace platform HireSpace and based on in-depth research conducted by international insight specialist MMR, identifies the need for better service knowledge at UK venues.

It also highlights the key drivers for event planning decision-making and reveals for the first time two distinct mindsets when it comes to event booking and expectations. They are:

– The “destination-ers”: This segment of event bookers is generally more mature, with more budget leeway. They are concerned primarily with the end result both in terms of delivery and the actual content and purpose of an event. Pleasing aesthetics and “wow-factors” are key to winning them over.

– The “journey-ers”: And the event managers from these companies tend to work for larger companies, who host large-scale events. They face decreasing lead times so efficiency is a priority and find value throughout the event booking process. They need reassurance and support throughout.

Interestingly, “journey-ers” are prevalent segment for marketplace venue finding websites, whilst Searcys’ event bookers tend to be more mature “destination-ers”.

So what do these audience segmentations mean for venue and corporate event organisers?

Each and every venue should consider differentiating their service delivery and customer journey strategy to satisfy both segments.

While venue location is a key factor across the whole sample, Searcys customers place the quality of food and drink, exceptional customer service and venue ambiance top of mind.

A tiered approach to pricing could be beneficial for “destination-ers”, highlighting what added value is available at different price points as well as thinking out of the box when it comes to bringing an event to life and thorough detailed food and drink product knowledge.

In contrast, the “journey-ers” have rigid budgets, so an itemised bill approach, where removals and add-ons can give planners more flexibility would be beneficial. Also, clarity in pricing structure, seamless and quick turnaround and no surprises are prerequisite.

Event planner frustrations

When it comes to frustrations, on the whole event planners say that additional charges (76%), lack of flexibility from the venue (48%) and event budget constraints (38%) are their biggest pain points. This is closely followed by a lack of pre-event communication from the venue and lack of staff knowledge (both 35%) suggesting more training for venue and corporate event organisers is required.

While managing relationships with venues, in-house event planners are also having to deal with pressures from above. Nearly one in four highlighted unreasonable requests from their internal stakeholders as a source of frustration!

MMR research director Noreen Kinsey commented, “Improving hospitality knowledge and skills to deliver exceptional results will please the more discerning “destination-ers” while a focus on ensuring events are run effectively and efficiently from start to finish will keep the time pressured “journey-ers” happy.”

Searcys head of learning and development Daniel Rowlinson added, “The survey has highlighted what we have believed in for a long time – excellent intuitive service based on rigorous training and food and drink knowledge will deliver on high expectations of 21-century event organisers. This ethics has been Searcys cornerstone for over 170 years and continues to this day.”