The week after Ferragosto is curiously quiet in Florence, but while the locals have deserted the city in search of water fights on Tuscany’s beaches, Florence’s hotels are still busy welcoming guests from all over the world. The Florentine met with Beatrice Grassi, president of Consorzio Firenze Albergo, to talk about the role played by a professional association in upholding standards in today’s tourism industry.
The Florentine: The tagline of Consorzio Firenze Albergo is ‘Hotels do it better’. How true is that in Florence?Beatrice Grassi: The reality behind the slogan refers to the Consortium’s concept of hospitality. For us, it’s important because we want to differentiate between what hotels offer and what other types of accommodation have to offer guests. Some might view hotels as a more traditional option, but they nevertheless provide guarantees. A hotel is manned at every year of the day, for instance: from doormen to reception staff. Guests can arrive whenever they like, without having to let the hotel know in advance. At any time of the day or night, there’s someone there to provide you with advice and information: that brings peace of mind to travellers.
TF: Do hotel staff have to update their skills all the time?BG: Yes, professional training updates are a legal requirement. Our hotel employees are trained in fire safety, first aid, and health and safety as well as in confidentiality practices. Hotels undergo spot checks all the time, from menus to maintenance, so guests are safe in the knowledge that our standards are the highest in the business. All of these skills are invaluable in today’s tourism industry.
TF: What kinds of hotels are members of Consorzio Firenze Albergo?BG: Firenze Albergo comprises more than 200 hotels, from one to five stars, so there’s a range of different hotel accommodation options for all budgets. Plus, the Consorzio has its own online booking system, which has the benefit of allowing guests to book directly with the hotel owners, asking them any questions you might have or requesting your needs in advance.
TF: How’s this year looking so far?BG: If you consider that the winter started off quite slowly, things definitely picked up in the spring and the summer has proven excellent. Florence continues to be a prime destination. Now we have new nationalities that are drawn to the city. In the past, only the very wealthy from certain markets like Russia, India and China were the ones who would visit. Now we have travellers from these markets of all budgets.
TF: What cultural challenges do these new guests bring for the hotels?BG: We need to adapt to their needs. In fact, this winter we trained our reception staff on how to meet and greet guests from the BRIC countries. It’s important to know what these guests from these cultures so different to our own like to find in their rooms, what they preferto eat for breakfast, how they celebrate cultural and religious moments and festivals, etc. This change makes for an interesting experience.