Hospitality and Plek. What do they have in common?
by Gio Djowinangoen on Aug 13, 2022 5:32:00 PM
Since 2021, Olaf van der Putten has been working as an account executive at Plek. Olaf started his career, like many others, in the hospitality industry. After several jobs in the hospitality industry and attending Hotel School, he started his career in a (seemingly) different field. Shortly after graduating, Olaf decided to make the switch to IT. Without any IT experience and with a new fresh perspective, he started last year at Plek in the Client Success team.
Olaf talks about his first year at Plek: How did he manage to shape his job with his background in hospitality? Are there similarities between Plek and the hospitality industry? And what can the hospitality industry learn from Plek?
From washing dishes to account executive at Plek
His love for the hospitality industry started at a young age. "When I was fourteen, I first worked in a snack bar and later as a dishwasher in a restaurant. A few years later, I got a service tray pushed into my hands and entered the ministry." At the age of eighteen, Olaf left for Leeuwarden. Here he studied International Hospitality Management or the 'Hotel School'. Yet shortly after his studies, he decided to switch to IT. "The hospitality industry lags behind when it comes to digitalization. How Plek can offer a solution for this, I found fascinating".
At Plek, Olaf soon felt at home. "At a scale-up like Plek, the possibilities are endless. Also, with my hospitality background, I was used to tackling things. So besides answering support questions, I started focusing more and more on the sales side. What are the wishes of the customer, and how do we keep them happy with the service that Plek offers? Eventually, I became an accountant executive.”
Guest experience vs user experience
Hospitality and Plek. Two very different things, you would think at first glance. Yet, Plek and the hospitality industry have some great common ground. "A great guest experience is essential in the hospitality industry. From the moment a guest enters a restaurant until they leave, the hospitality industry ensures that the guest experiences the ultimate experience. They do this with dishes and drinks they bring to the table, clean rooms, or well-made beds and service. Listening to guests and exceeding their expectations can do just that," explains Olaf.
"Where the guests are central in the hospitality industry, users are central within Plek. We always have the end user in mind. For example, our UX designers, Annejet and Larissa, are working on improving the user experience on a daily basis. Of course, a consistent experience is key. But we are also continuously listening to our customers. What are their wishes? What kind of feedback do they have on new features? With this feedback, we are trying to improve our product every month.”
A team effort
Working with different teams was a familiar feeling to Olaf. This team feeling ensured that Olaf quickly felt at home at Plek. "I came from an industry where team spirit is highly valued. On a day where anything can happen, the success of that day depends on the team. And the sociability among colleagues should certainly not be forgotten. Ending the day together with a good drink was always a plus.”
And how did Olaf experience this at Plek? "The nice thing about working at Plek is the informal work culture. Plek is a flat organization. In my role, I am involved with different teams every day. One day I am with the Product Team discussing the needs of one of our customers. The other day I am writing a proposal with the Sales Team. And we never forget celebrating our successes together!”
What can the hospitality industry learn from Plek?
Onboarding is one of the features that Plek offers. It's one of the areas where the hospitality industry can make a lot of profit. "When I started in the hospitality industry, they pushed a service tray into my hands. Then, after a quick run through the table numbers, they wished me good luck. A good onboarding can make all the difference and increase employee satisfaction. They are more productive faster, perform better, feel more engaged and are less likely to leave."
The numbers on employee turnover in the hospitality industry don't lie. For example, a survey in 2019 showed that 44% of restaurant employees changed jobs each year (ABN AMRO, 2019). This costs the Dutch hospitality industry over 600 million euros annually in recruitment & selection, training & education, productivity loss and exit costs. Furthermore, according to CBS (Centraal Bureau Statistieken), in the second quarter of 2022, the number of vacancies in the hospitality industry increased by 15.000. This makes the hospitality industry the sector with the fastest growing number of vacancies. "With the current staff shortage in the hospitality industry, it is essential to retain your employees," says Olaf.
‘With the current staff shortage in the hospitality industry, it is essential to retain your employees.’
“In terms of the guest experience, the hospitality industry is innovative. However, the back office of the hospitality industry is still a few years behind in terms of technology. For example, hour and order lists are often still written on paper. According to the hospitality industry, this is not necessarily prone to error, but in reality, it is often different."
According to hospitality professionals, technology can add value to the new generation of hospitality workers. "Because this generation has grown up so much with modern technologies, there are definitely opportunities there", Olaf agrees. "We're on our phones on Instagram, WhatsApp and other things daily. So a good employee app with all the necessary information for your work appeals to the new generation.”