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Stories of Genuine Hospitality
By Feature Writer Doug Kennedy
Over the many years I've worked in the hotel business I have grown to better-understand the "stories" our guests are living out every day on the other side of the front desk, at the other end of the phone line, and behind our guest room doors. As a guest I've attended weddings, graduations, anniversary parties, but also funerals, emergency rooms and memorial services. I have traveled to conduct interviews and also to be interviewed; to attend meetings and also as the meeting planner. I have traveled as a first time parent with a new born baby, and also as the primary care giver to an elderly parent with arthritic needs and special dietary concerns. Now I am so much better prepared than I was at age 20 when I got my first job outside of our family business to work in a hotel.
Back then I thought travel was always fun, adventurous and exciting. It took me years to understand the vast spectrum of reasons why guests travel that are far beyond "business" or "leisure." Now in my hotel industry conference presentations and private on-site hotel trainings, it is my job to help our frontline colleagues to better-understand the guest "stories" being lived out every day behind our guest room doors.
This month and next, I'm excited to be traveling to six different cities to present at the Choice Hotels 2013 regional conferences presented by the Choice Hotels Owners Council (CHOC) and have been speaking about the subject of fostering empathy for and an understanding of guest experiences to "unmask" and "re-humanize" our guests. One of my break-out activities is to ask participants to work in groups to share the details of a unique challenge, dilemma, or quandary that a guest was facing, along with what their hotel associates did to assist. I have to say it was so refreshing to hear an abundance of examples of how our industry's hospitality superstars have attended to the special needs of guests facing unusual circumstances. Here are but a few examples the owners and managers of the various Choice Hotels shared during my workshops so far.
As a result of these stories that my participants have shared, I am so looking forward to the last 3 of 6 Choice Hotels regional meetings. I wish more hotel brands had these types of conferences and asked for this type of training. The longest journey is from the head to the heart. It is easy to talk about hospitality but not so easy to live it daily. That is until you get the momentum started. Then it becomes not only easy but also joyful and reminds us why we do what we do in this business.
As a reader, I would love for you to email me with your own examples of how frontline associates of your hotel have gone above what is expected and required to meet the special needs of a fellow human being we routinely call a guest. All hotels are welcome to contribute regardless of brand, affiliation or property type. I will share more examples in "Part Two" of this article later this month.
About the Author
Doug Kennedy is President of the Kennedy Training Network, Inc. a leading provider of customized training programs and telephone mystery shopping services for the lodging and hospitality industry. Doug continues to be a fixture on the industry's conference circuit for hotel companies, brands and associations, as he been for over two decades. Since 1996, Doug's monthly hotel industry training articles have been published worldwide, making him one of the most widely read hotel industry training authors in the world. He is the author of Still On The Road to Sales and Guest Service Excellence.
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