At TRUNK(HOTEL), we do not have work manuals, and our staff members themselves decide how to work based on our four core values: originality, innovation, contribution, and sincerity. Our way of working is only made possible because we are a group where each individual has a sense of ownership. General Manager Hisao Koga, Wedding Division Manager Sachiko Hayafune, and Accommodations Division Manager Daichi Ogihara will discuss these efforts and achievements.
The decision by the staff members themselves – the challenge of closing during the New Year's holidays
From before TRUNK(HOTEL) opened, the staff members had a shared understanding that the company belonged to them. And while thinking of how we wanted to manage the business, one proposal was to close the hotel during the New Year’s holidays. Traditional hotels take it for granted that it will be in operation 24/7 once the doors open. As it was a very unusual proposal for the hotel industry, we didn’t rush for a conclusion and had repeated discussions.
Breaking hotel industry standards.
At first, there were objections. Shouldn’t a hotel stay open for its customers? Isn’t it better to stay open during the busiest season? However, as a result of repeated discussions with everyone, we concluded that a hotel could remain closed during the New-Year holidays, and ultimately decided to close the entire hotel for that period. By doing so, it allowed our team to do what we cannot normally do—visiting a family member who lives far away, going on overseas trips, etc. Since we have decided to take holidays, we should take a good rest, and try to cover the lost profit during other periods. This has become our fundamental policy.
After working for about eight years at several luxury hotels, I joined TRUNK as the Manager of the Accommodations Division. In previous workplaces, it was unthinkable for hotels to be closed during the New Year’s holidays. It is a period when hotels have the highest occupancy rates and get highest accommodation fees, and it was difficult even for individual staff members to take a day off. Until I came to TRUNK, I never had days off during the New Year’s holidays. As I had been told that this was the industry standard procedure, I was prepared to work during the period when I got a job. So I was surprised by this decision made by TRUNK members, and to be honest, I was happy with the decision.
I became a member of TRUNK from the parent company TAKE and GIVE NEEDS. I had already been given the New Year’s holidays there, so it was nice that I was able to continue to do so here at TRUNK.
What are the merits of having everyone take a break all at once?
I was able to go back to my hometown in Nagano for New Year’s holidays for the first time since I started working. I was able to see my family and friends back home, and took time looking back on the previous year and make resolutions for the new year. As a result, I think I was able to start work at the beginning of the year, feeling refreshed in mind and body.
Especially in the Stay Division, many people, came from other hotels like Ogihara. They never had a day off during the New Year’s holidays. Everyone looked really happy with this decision. This also allowed some team members from overseas to return home and visit their family. Because it was their own decision, they take full advantage of the vacation, and at the beginning of the year when everyone returns to work, I feel they are even more motivated. Everyone is hustling for about 360 days per year at work, so I believe it is really good to be able to take a break once a year and raise morale.
On the last day of work before the vacation, I love the way we exchange words of appreciation during the year before leaving office. Taking days off allowed us to conclude the past year and have a good rest, and everyone returned at the beginning of the year energetic and ready to work.
Traveling or joining New Year Countdown during the vacation has helped me have more conversation with customers. Previous hotels I worked at had a manual for even simple greetings and we strictly had to follow the rules. But at TRUNK, we are allowed to have our own way when we serve our customers. By taking advantage of your own experiences, we can have more personal communication, not like talks between hotel employees and guests. I believe taking the New Year’s holidays has a positive effect in this aspect as well.
Breaking the mold of the wedding industry—Saturdays and Sundays off.
As TRUNK allows employees to work in their own way, it has boldly improved the customs of the hospitality industry. I have worked as a wedding planner at TAKE and GIVE NEEDS for 10 years, and working on weekends is a common practice within the industry. I only took days off on weekends on ceremonial occasions, and couldn’t see friends who had the weekends off. However, at TRUNK, we can decide on your own way of working. As a new initiative since March 2018, we have introduced a system where members of the Wedding Division can take one weekend day (Saturday or Sunday) off, once per month. Generally, Mondays and Tuesdays are our scheduled days off, so by taking Sunday off, they can make it a three-day weekend, or they could even arrange to take Thursday, Friday and Saturday off.
To create an environment where people can continue to work for a long time.
Because many women work in the wedding industry, we wanted to allow our team members to work as long as possible even after marriage or childbirth. If their partner has weekends off, this system allows them to spend at least one weekend with their family per month, and for those with children, this allows them to attend school events and enjoy time with their family without hesitation. Further, as many concerts and seminars are held over the weekend, I would like them to actively join such events to refine their sensitivity and share their experience with everyone else. I wanted to create a work environment where people didn’t have to give up anything due to work.
The friendly working environment will turn into excellent service to our customers.
In the wedding industry, it is often difficult to continue with their career after marriage or childbirth, but having a system and environment where staff members freely take days off leads to retention of excellent staff members.
And it will be great if this system becomes the driving force to providing the best wedding ceremony possible to our customers.
It is TRUNK’s way to allow its members to practice their own way of working without being bound by industry standards. If our efforts turn out to be the best practice, innovation will spread through the entire hospitality industry, and our vision of “creating a new market” will come a step closer to reality.
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