By Poyi (Natalie) Leung
If human resources are the very first prerequisite for the development of the economy of Macau, which is in the midst of trying to become a so-called ‘world travel and leisure hub’, then I would say the importance of service quality should closely follow.
In other words, we don’t only require people from outside of the territory to come and work for us, but we’re even in greater need of ‘quality manpower’, particularly for the expanding retail sector, who understands that satisfying customer needs is a very basic requirement in today’s world. People’s expectations of service quality will only grow and not diminish over time.
Major travel destinations clearly acknowledge that providing quality service in shops and restaurants, regardless of the size of the business, and even public transportation is essential and primary to maintain their competitiveness in the global tourism market and achieve sustainable development. Macau, a city that relies heavily on tourism, should understand this theory better than anyone else, but certainly it’s another matter whether the government and related industry practitioners are willing to acknowledge it and act accordingly.
Normally people expect to receive higher quality of service at certain venues, for example a five-star hotel, a fine dining restaurant, a costly spa facility or a high-roller gaming room. Yet, society is progressing every day and consumer demands will just continue to grow.
It’s getting increasingly important for the ‘mass catering’ restaurants as well to deliver at least a satisfying quality of service, if not above standard, to its patrons in spite of whether or not they are ‘big spenders’. Don’t forget that some of Macau’s casinos also target the mass-market gambling segment because they see the potential higher margins.
Last Saturday night in a Hong Kong-style café restaurant at a NAPE casino, I witnessed a waiter, who was apparently unhappy with a Mandarin-speaking customer who made a second request of him after fulfilling a first, said to the customer: “You should have told me at once all the things you wanted me to do, so I don’t need to walk two times.”
Naturally the man became so furious and left his table to scold the waiter, and eventually complained to the restaurant manager.
This was perhaps an extreme example, but we must look at the bigger picture, especially in light of recent media reports which have begun to question whether people from mainland China are still attracted to work in Macau nowadays.
With salary levels continuing to soar in the Pearl River Delta Region, job opportunities increasing thanks to Guangdong province’s economic transformation and renminbi continuing to appreciate, mainland Chinese may likely reassess the advantages between working on the mainland and in Macau.
One example is that they can benefit from the social security system, provident fund or other government welfare if they stay on the mainland, while in Macau they enjoy nothing at all but remunerations offered by their employers.
Macau’s small and medium enterprises have already raised concerns over the difficulty in hiring non-resident labourers from the mainland. They said in spite of the relaxed approval process by the Human Resources Office, some workers eventually gave up and decided not to come to Macau. As a result, the companies now must attempt to hire people outside of Guangdong province in China and even lower job requirements to obtain enough manpower to support operations.
This is certainly a worrying situation as it implies that the territory may no longer be able to attract highly-skilled or quality manpower.
There’s still a long way to go until Macau can truly call itself a world travel destination and the government ought to be well prepared for the tough journey ahead.