Industry Expert Interview – behind the scenes with Martin Kubler
Today we met Martin Kubler, the founder and chief cook & bottle washer of Iconsulthotels, the region’s first ultra-boutique consulting firm specializing in assisting small & medium hospitality & service industries companies to achieve their business goals through innovative use of PR, social media and customized CRM strategies. Martin is a hotel GM turned hospitality & service industries consultant with 15+ years executive-level management experience in three, four and five star hotels in Europe and the Middle East. He’s highly creative, interested in many things and understands an eclectic mix of business, science, and art. Martin is very well networked, a frequent speaker at hotel and customer service conferences and events, and a regular contributor to industry websites and publications such as eHotelier.com and hoteliermiddleast.com. He also runs a blog, which you can check out here [link to http://www.martinkubler.com/270669/]
SEB: ‘Martin, please introduce yourself briefly to our followers and readers?’
Martin: ‘I’m originally from Germany and started my career at the Bayerischer Hof, one of Germany’s few family-owned and run Leading Hotels of the World, where I was taught how five-star service needs personality to be delivered successfully. After my apprenticeship, I left Germany and moved to London, first to study and later to work. I spent some years working for Thistle Hotels and later moved to the Bonnington Hotel – another family owned, independent hotel.
In 2004, I moved to Dubai to work for Accor, before moving to Qatar for Wyndham, and later on back to Dubai to reconnect with the Bonnington owners, who were in the process of opening a five-star hotel in new Dubai.
I went self-employed in 2011 and started Iconsulthotels – the region’s first first ultra-boutique consulting firm specializing in assisting small & medium hospitality & service industries companies to achieve their business goals through innovative use of PR, social media and customized CRM strategies. The first two years were hard, also because I completed my MBA in Marketing and Innovation at the same time, but now I can’t complain about business and it’s a lot of fun.
SEB: ‘What does “customer service” mean to you?’
Martin: ‘I think people in our industry often forget that the word ‘service’ comes from ‘to serve’ – for me, good customer service means that the customer is at the heart of the process, not as a platitude or buzzword, but simply because without customers, there would be no customer service. We’re here to serve, but we’re not servants. Our guests and customers are experts in their specific professional niches – we’re experts in service. Great customer service today looks at every guest and customer as an individual and attempts to add value to the service transactions that delights and amazes the customers and makes it more likely that he or she comes back a second, third, and fourth time.’
SEB: ‘In what way does your role of a consultant influence “customer service” in Dubai?’
Martin: ‘I often get brought in to evaluate service concepts and delivery in hotels, restaurants, or other service establishments. I try to match the service with the personality and image of the outlet/brand and its customers and guests. I also work with individuals in the industry, mostly concerning personal branding – it’s about making little changes in the way you act, work, dress, and behave that can really influence your success in providing great customer service.’
SEB: ‘What was the most funniest or most bizarre situation you have come across in regards to “customer service” in a restaurant?’
Martin: ‘Since arriving in Dubai almost 10 years ago, I experience a strange inability to order 2 or 3 items from restaurants or delivery services. What I mean is that, I’d say “I’d like 2 of this” and in 99% of all cases, I’d get 3. It’s like service staff over here can’t tell my twos from my threes. Over the years, I have received three pizzas, I always get 3 sugars in my take-away coffee rather than two (I have now cut down on sugar and only ask for one – problem fixed), and when I lived in an apartment no. 203, I used to never get deliveries, because they ended up at 302 (in the end, the guy who lived there just called me and asked me to pick up whatever it was I had delivered). This oddity is sometimes funny, but always bizarre.’
SEB: ‘What is your favorite restaurant of café in Dubai, and why?’
Martin: ‘There are many, but one of my favorite places is Costa Coffee in the petrol station by the Greens. Think that’s an odd choice? Go and see the crew in this branch yourself and you’ll see why. Outstanding service, every time.’
SEB: ‘Where did your passion for “customer service” come from?’
Martin: ‘It came from long hours learning the ropes in hotels and from serving queens, princesses, business moguls, and just plain everyday people. It also came from seeing the passion many service industry workers have for their jobs. It’s about rooting for the underdogs. We provide outstanding service that leaves memories – it’s not something that requires no skills and can be picked up overnight; it’s a career choice that’s increasingly receiving the recognition it deserves.’
SEB: ‘What is your benefit of following Servicexcellence Blog and how did you find out about us?’
Martin: ‘I came across Servicexcellence Blog after reading a blog post about a restaurant in one of my clients’ hotels. I’ve been following the blog ever since and I especially enjoy that it focuses on service and not on food. There’s an abundance of food bloggers, but not a lot of service bloggers.’
SEB: ‘Where do you see “customer service” in Dubai 5 in years from now?’
Martin: ‘I think we’ll see a lot more focus fall on service in establishments in Dubai in the next few years. Consumers in Dubai are now used to having a wide choice of high quality options to pick from in just about all areas, so service is going to be what makes the differences and distinguishes “great” companies from “average” or “bad” companies. In the coming years, it won’t be as much about having the latest bar or restaurant concept, but much more about filling a concept with life and delivering service that is personalized, memorable, and makes customers want to come back time and again.’
SEB: ‘Thank you very much for sharing your thoughts with our followers today. We wish you all the best and look forward to our next meeting and exchange of what to explore next in Dubai.’