7 Hospitality Lessons from the movie The Grand Budapest Hotel

Oct 25, 2021 | Guest Experience | Reading Time: 8 minutes

We can learn new things to improve our work in different ways. In that sense, watching movies can be a great way to take in lessons while you rest and enjoy your leisure time.

The Grand Budapest Hotel, released in 2014 and directed by Wes Anderson, is a great example of a movie that brings insights into the hotel industry.

The movie focuses on two characters who work at the hotel: Monsieur Gustave H., the hotel concierge, and Zero Moustafa, the newly hired property lobby boy.

After Gustave is accused of the murder of one of the (wealthy) frequent hotel guests, he and Zero need to dig deep into the crime to prove the concierge’s innocence.

Of course, the simple fact that the movie takes place mainly inside of a hotel can give you some insights into your hotel’s service; but there are less obvious learnings, which we’ve listed for you in this article.

Get the popcorn and enjoy the reading!

By the way, this article contains a few spoilers. So, pay attention to the spoiler alert!

7 Grand Budapest Hotel Lessons

#1 Know What You Need to Do and Be Confident

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The plot: In the movie, newbie lobby boy Zero starts working at The Grand Budapest Hotel without having much idea how to get his job done.

However, as soon as he meets the concierge Gustave, he starts acting almost like his “shadow.” He quickly engages in learning from the concierge everything he needs to know to become an excellent professional.

The lesson: The first of the 7 Grand Budapest Hotel lessons is that the concierge constantly emphasizes the code of conduct to which hotel employees (especially the lobby boy) must be subject. They must act with discretion and always be ready to help guests in whatever is necessary.

Throughout the story, Zero’s personal and professional development is so clear that he can even identify the inappropriate behavior of one of the hotel’s new employees.

That means Zero learned the importance of discretion – and how vital it can be in the situation in which the characters find themselves. (Don’t worry, we won’t give away spoilers – yet!)

How to apply it in real life: Many hotels and inns still do not invest in onboarding and retraining processes to improve their employees’ performance.

As a result, you will have employees who learn less during the time they work for you. Also, the hotel itself will often end up offering guests an experience that is neither standardized nor excellent. On many occasions, employees will simply not know how to act.

To give your guests the best that your hotel has to offer, invest in training your employees. This way, they will be able to go further and further in their development – and so will your hotel.

Besides, as important as training technical skills, in hospitality, it is also crucial to train behaviors and communicate the company’s codes of conduct.

#2 Take Ownership of Your Responsibilities but Count on Your Colleagues/Leaders

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The plot: the movie illustrates well the role of the concierge as the “heart” of the hotel – something that doesn’t always happen, but the plot justifies the character’s role in the property.

Monsieur Gustave knows everything that goes on at the hotel and is responsible for articulating and synchronizing the actions of each of the employees – a true maestro.

The lesson: However, it is possible to note that, without the cooperation of each collaborator, the flawless experience that Gustave seeks to offer would not be possible. In other words, the hotel service only works if all employees work together for the same cause.

Also, the concierge is falsely accused of murder (beware – spoiler alert!) and goes to jail. Running the hotel, enabling his escape, and proving his innocence only work out because he has the help of his friends and colleagues.

How to apply it in real life: Unfortunately, in many hotels, there is a lot of competition and a lack of collaboration between employees. This climate only tends to harm the company’s operation, the employees’ professional development, and the guest experience.

To avoid this type of behavior, encourage cooperation among your employees. For example, create a space/situation for employees to leave messages of encouragement and appreciation to colleagues for their help or performance.

Each one must be accountable for their work, but being able to count on the colleagues when carrying out activities is a way to make the work more efficient and collaborative.

#3 Deliver a Consistent End-to-End Guest Experience

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The Plot: in the movie, concierge Gustave, in addition to being the “heart” of the hotel, also works as a maestro, making sure that the guests have the best experience possible. This usually happens at the Grand Budapest Hotel – no wonder the movie reinforces the idea that the hotel’s guests keep returning.

The lesson: The third of the 7 Grand Budapest Hotel lessons is that hotels must deliver a standardized service, either within the property itself or in different units (in the case of a hotel chain) so that guests know what to expect.

Another point that reinforces this lesson is the director’s own choices of direction and aesthetics. Wes Anderson is known for his unique choice of aesthetics in his movies, which always feature a very characteristic color palette and highly symmetrical shots.

The director embraced these aesthetic and narrative points in his movies. In other words, he created consistency throughout his work.

How to apply it in real life: Just as Gustave and Wes are consistent in their choices, so must your hotel be regarding the guest experience. Standardize all aspects of the experience, from beginning to end.

This consistency must go beyond the offline world and be present in the guest’s digital experience with your hotel.

After all, many of your relationships with them will take place online, and your service must be excellent from the beginning. Ideally, your service should not only be available in different channels but also integrate these channels.

#4 Give Guests What They Want

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Don’t worry; you won’t need to paint your hotel pink to offer an excellent guest experience.

The plot: Despite the movie being set in the 1930s, on the eve of World War II, The Grand Budapest Hotel is a bit old-fashioned even for its own time. The director himself has said, “the particular brand of artificiality that I like to use is an old-fashioned one.”

It could be a negative point, but this is what the hotel audience wants to find there. As the movie explains, guests are part of the bourgeoisie European society, which seeks the traditional service and aesthetics present in the hotel.

The lesson: in this case, stick to the basics and pay attention to what makes your hotel unique. Give your guests what they want – not what you think they want – to create the premium experience you wish to offer.

How to apply it in real life: You can count on several tools – online and offline – to identify what your guests want: Google Analytics, Google Trends, website forms, check-in forms, satisfaction surveys, social media, etc.

A good tip is to use all this information and, based on it, build Ideal Guest profiles for your company.

#5 Surround Yourself with the Best Partners

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The plot: In addition to the excellent service at the Grand Budapest Hotel, concierge Gustave loves Mendl’s pastry shop, which creates true works of art in the form of patisserie.

Gustave does not hesitate to recommend the services of the pastry shop to his guests. He even offers “free samples” of the sweets – even for those not so welcome at the hotel.

The lesson: The fifth of the 7 Grand Budapest Hotel lessons is that a traveler’s experience goes far beyond their accommodation. When guests travel, often they are not just looking for a good hotel: they want to try new food, see different landscapes, discover new things, etc.

If you can help them have an even more unforgettable travel experience, they will likely have pleasant memories of your hotel – and not just for the accommodation.

How to apply it in real life: Local tourism is on the rise, especially due to the pandemic. Many people are becoming tourists even in their own cities or nearby places.

That’s why you should work with local partners aligned with your values ​​of excellence and who offer exciting experiences for your guests. Again, it’s essential to know what your guests want.

#6 Storytelling to Attract Your Guests

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The plot: The movie The Grand Budapest Hotel tells the story of a writer who wrote a book about the former lobby boy and current owner of the Grand Budapest Hotel, Zero. Zero, in turn, tells the writer the story of concierge Gustave – himself an excellent storyteller, as we can see in the movie.

In other words, the movie is full of storytelling within storytelling. This shows how people are attracted to exciting stories. Stories grab the viewers’/readers’ attention and allow us to marvel at what’s going on.

The lesson: In marketing, storytelling strategy is increasingly used to attract a target audience. Or your potential guests.

It’s not just about telling stories but developing a narrative structure that educates and informs your prospects about how your hotel can be an unforgettable experience for them.

How to apply it in real life: An efficient example is to create content on your website telling the experiences your guest had at your property l – through text, images, audio, or video – how their experience in your property was life-changing. This is a good way to attract more travelers to your hotel.

In this free workshop, Copywriting Expert Juliana Hahn and Asksuite’s Content Coordinator Paula Carreirão explain the basics of this successful strategy:

#7 Stay Fancy – or at Least, Organized and Clean

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The lesson is: Finally, the seventh of the 7 Grand Budapest hotel lessons is the aesthetic aspect, always well highlighted by the movie’s director, who tends to emphasize costume design in his films. Of course, we’re not telling you always to wear formal attire – this will depend on your hotel’s proposal.

How to apply it in real life: It is crucial to demonstrate organization and cleanliness, as we see in the movie, whatever the aesthetic proposal of your property may be.

It is also worth mentioning the hygiene standards, especially in times of pandemic – and probably this will be the protocol from now on.

With what we have been through, hygiene and cleaning protocols and processes need, more than ever, to be reinforced, to express to guests and to hotel employees they are safe.

We hope this article has brought you suitable lessons and insights. We recommend you watch the movie and check out our Hotel Cast TV episodes with other lessons for the Hotel Industry!


See you!

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