On May 28th 'Heart Ibiza' will open it's concept to the world. The Adria brothers (ell bulli) team up with Guy Laliberté of Cirque du Soleil to "experience a creative collision between art, food and music".
Obviously the two parties are known for their high standards, exquisite quality and of course their creativity... However, we think they succeed because of another reason.
I remember clearly the first time I saw a Cirque du Soleil show. Like anyone, I was blown away. I pondered for many years over why the shows are that good. It was circus, nothing special. I saw that as a little kid in the eighties. But this was different. Yes, there were clowns, acrobats... but it was different. Why? It didn't come to me.
Many years later it hit me and I immediately saw the link with the hospitality industry. You see, to me the restaurant and hotel business is one of the most complex there is. Think about all the individual components that go into such a business. Recruiting, food safety, cost control, training, bookkeeping, customer service, etc... And those are actually similar to any business. The big challenge is that the customer takes you up on all the details, especially the execution. Drinks have to be cold, food has to be hot, bedsheets have to be impeccable, not too much noise in the hotel, the temperature of the poolwater must be perfect. I could go on for an hour. Not one detail can be overlooked. One mistake can be fatal.
After seeing several Cirque du Soleil shows, I had the privilege of seeing "O". The show in the Bellagio on the Las Vegas strip. Again, I was very impressed. I tried not to watch the show but looked at the "how do they do it" parts. The lighting was controlled by multiple people - some of them hanging from the ceiling - and even the opening of the curtain was spectacular (don't want to spoil it for you, should you have not seen it).
When I was watching the singers, standing behind a white, slightly see through curtain, it hit me! I finally figured out why they were that good: they take everything apart, bring it to a new level and bring it back together again. They look at every part of a show and question themselves over and over again on how they can make something better.
The colors of the costumes are amazing, nothing you have ever seen in another circus. Stripes, dots, feathers, you name it. The make up is perfectly in sync with the costume. Even the name of the shows are words you have seldom heard of, they inspire people to find out more. We want to know what the story is behind that mystical name.
They don't stop there, oh no! The music is live, the singing is perfectly in sync with certain stunts. Even the way you enter the tents is carefully designed so you don't miss the merchandising. When you leave the show, again you walk thru the merchandising area. Just like Disney had figured out in their theme parks.
But how does this add up to the hospitality industry? It's my humble opinion that we can learn from them. When every restaurant owner looks at his product and separates every aspect of it, I'm sure you can lift the quality and the level of service. Bringing back all the individual pieces will give you a complete concept at the highest level!
Picture a hotel. Any hotel. Maybe one you have been to. Think about the individual aspects or services you encountered. How was the reception? Was staff smiling? Did they use correct language? Was their attire perfect? Did they make eye contact?
Five questions and we haven't even been to the room yet. My suggestion is to look with a critical eye to every piece of your hospitality operation and improve were you can. Bring all pieces together again and end up with something that is better than the sum of its parts... just like a Cirque du Soleil show.
Vincent M. Vermeulen