By Doug Kennedy
Have you ever walked in to work at a hotel or hospitality company and immediately recognized that someone, somewhere has determined that today is going to be “one of THOSE days”? It’s almost like someone posted a sign at the staff entrance to make it official. When you greet your first co-worker, they mysteriously transfer the bad vibe over to you. Before you know it, you too are sending the same negative vibe on to others. Pretty soon it begins to feel like everyone on your work team is also experiencing “one of those days.” Have you ever noticed that during days like these, the guests you encounter seem to also be having “one of those days” too? Have you ever wondered, perhaps even out loud, “WHERE did we get THESE guests today? Is there a full moon tonight? Did they close down the Heartbreak Hotel and send them here?”
On these days, the strangest and most unusual occurrences will happen to our guests. On days like these, certain guests always seem to attract multiple bad experiences. In other words, the one guest who somehow gets checked-in to an out of order room will be the same guest in the only room that housekeeping somehow forgets to clean, and also the same (and only) guest whose credit card gets charged twice, and who is inadvertently checked-out early, thus deactivating his key, on the very day he is late to return to his room for a scheduled Zoom meeting.
Yet if your true destiny is to work in the professional field of hospitality for the long term, somewhere along the journey you will eventually learn that it’s the energy you bring into the employee entrance that has the biggest impact on how your day is going to go. Walk-in emitting the right vibe, broadcasting it like a cell phone tower emitting a 5G connection, and you will overcome the weak, analog signals of negativity.
As the pages in your Book of Life turn, during your hospitality career you eventually acquire the wisdom to understand that like everything else in The Universe, the spectrum of “extreme” guest personalities runs from unshakably kind to unimaginably rude. You will eventually recognize that most human spirits are pliable and that most people inhabit the space between the extremes of kind and rude.
Hospitality personalities learn that by starting your day with intention of bringing out the best in everyone you encounter, you can not only turn around a guest’s “bad day on the road,” but your seemingly small actions will echo like the ripples on still water when even the smallest pebble is tossed into the pond.
As I write this month’s training article, I’m on board an overcrowded, evening flight that departed 2 hours late, filled with people who are tired, cranky, and hungry. Although stuck in a middle seat due to a last-minute change of plans, and still wearing a mask due to FAA regulations, the positive vibe I send out with only my eye contact, a few kind words, and what I call the “eye squint smile,” has already been passed on to the flight attendants who greeted me at the door when I thanked them for their service, to my seatmates on either side and to the young, tired, petite single mother with a very large and very cranky lap child sitting across from us. Ironically, I noticed when she and I exchanged smiles, her toddler soon settled and quieted down too.
After I deplane, I’ll do my best to pass on my current positive vibe to the rental car attendant, despite that I’m guessing they are still going through a chronic car shortage these days, as there is currently still a shortage of cars due to the unexpectedly rapid rebound of travel towards the end of the pandemic era. The attendant will probably be telling me there’s a wait for my vehicle and then that I will be “upgraded” from the premium vehicle I reserved to a minivan, which is just what every recent empty-nester like me wants to hear. Yet instead of complaining as I might have in my younger years, I will simply flash my eye-squint smile, thank them kindly for their service, and gratefully head on my way in whatever vehicle my destiny holds for me tonight.
Over the years, I have come to realize that the Spirit of Hospitality is like an electrical current that flows through the walls of our homes and offices. Imagine yourself like one of those rechargeable battery banks that powers your cell phone when there is a utility outage. When your “red light” is flashing, you know you very soon will need to recharge your power bank by plugging in to the higher source. Then, when you are fully recharged and your indicator light is blinking the full 5 blue dots, you are ready to forth and recharge other devices that are now running low. Without you, they will power off and go dark, but if you offer them access to your source, they too will be recharged and restored.
I hope my readers have enjoyed these reminders and that you can relate to this analogy. The one thing I cannot tell you how to do in the limited space of this article…, well actually the one thing that we all have to find out on our own, is where to find the outlet you need to plug in to for a recharge.
Lots of people find their hospitality “charging station” at a house of worship, whether there’s a cross, a crescent and star, the Star of David, or a wheel of dharma. Many others find their charging stations in the loving arms of their family, life partners, children, and dear friends. Still others find it in meditation, by quieting their mind and just listening to sounds of silence. Although we all seek to “plug in” to different sources, the currency that powers all somehow seems Universal.