Industry Update
Opinion Article17 June 2020

The World Needs the Essence of Hospitality Now More Than Ever

By Prince A. Sanders, Managing Director at Park Lane Hotel New York

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Have you ever experienced people giving you odd looks, making wide pathways to avoid you, or doing everything in their power to avoid eye contact? I fear that as a society, we will take this pandemic, social, or racial differences to an extreme and allow them to create more reasons to separate, segregate, and alienate.

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Just because we must be cautious or we are uncertain how to interact with each other due to recent events, doesn't mean we shouldn't be hospitable or neighborly. Why not put more effort into following service basics in the hopes of preserving the basic principles of kindness? Let's begin with four steps of service that can help move the needle in healing our communities.

One: Smile and Eye Contact.

I know we must wear a mask right now, but we should not allow that to stop us from recognizing one another. These are challenging times; many are struggling with distance from loved ones, loss of employment, depression, anger, or dealing with Illness. This is the time when simple acknowledgments mean the most. Even though you are wearing a mask, you can still smile. I like the term that I once heard Tyra Banks use "smize", meaning to smile with the eyes. People can see and feel the warmth of a smile even through the mask.

Don't be afraid to make eye contact, smile, or smize and acknowledge one another. If you're feeling particularly daring, follow up with a salutation - hello, good morning, good afternoon, good evening, or just a simple hi. Everyone has a desire to be seen and heard. Let's not allow these uncertain times to break down the barriers we've fought to destroy throughout the years.

Two: Common courtesy is not an option. It's an expectation.

When interacting with others, be sure to use your common courtesy. Please, and thank you, are simple aspects that go a long way. Hold doors for one another when entering and existing establishments. Don't forget the person behind the counter that you interact with has most likely been deemed an essential worker. They don't have the luxury to stay home during the shelter in place and have continued to work, so others don't have to do without life-sustaining items and services.

Three: Surprise and delight.

No matter how difficult things are, there is always someone going through a greater struggle. Be thankful for the positive things in your life. Focus on the things you do have rather than the things you don't. Challenge yourself to extend a kind gesture to others. The spirit of giving is common within hospitality. Professionals in our industry are always challenging themselves to surprise and delight guests. This is not because we are specifically looking for something in return but because these gestures leave a lasting impression on someone that goes far beyond their stay. We look to create memories that last a lifetime. Give it a try. You may be surprised to find the more you give, the more you'll receive.

Four: Send a personalized note or card.

It is common practice to recognize VIP's daily and send them a personalized note upon arrival. Imagine taking a few moments to write to someone and make them feel like a VIP. With the shelter in place still in effect in many cities, there are very few things out of the typical day-to-day routine to look forward to. There is something wonderful about walking to the mailbox and finding a note or a card from someone reminding you that you are important.

Together we can use our positive actions to create positive outcomes. The next time you are out and about, remember kindness goes a long way.

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