More than complying with requests…more than anticipating needs…guests need to feel like you are “on their side”. Simply put, they want you to be their advocate. Looking out for them. Suggesting services and products that will best fit their specific needs.
Just recently, I was staying at the Thompson hotel in Miami Beach, and couldn’t find my valet parking ticket. After verifying that I was indeed the authorized driver, the valet attendant gave me a great suggestion. He said, “I know how easy it can be to lose the small valet ticket stub. It happens to me all the time when I travel. One suggestion is when you first check-in and get the ticket stub, use your mobile phone to take a picture of it. That way, you will always have the ticket # with you.” Great idea! I never thought of it, but his idea makes all the sense in the world. I felt like he was my advocate. Like he was on my side.
I was scheduled to facilitate four training sessions over two days at Hotel Okura Amsterdam. On the morning, before my first session, the banquet server brought a tray with a pot of hot water, lemon, honey and a teacup. He explained that he knew that I would be speaking a lot over the next few days, and wanted to ensure that my throat and voice would be soothed. He was my advocate. He was on my side.
When my wife was on pregnancy-related bed-rest for two months, we would get a “Cafeteria Weekly Menu” delivered to our inpatient room. After the first two weeks, one of the nurses brought us a menu for the entire month. That menu is typically reserved only for the kitchen staff, since menu items might change from week to week. The nurse explained all of that to us, but emphasized that she felt we would appreciate knowing what the potential menu items would be weeks in advance. She was our advocate. She was on our side.
Challenge yourself to BE someone’s advocate today.
I have found that it is easier to be an advocate when you believe in the unconditional worthiness of each person. There are those who are only kind to people they like. Then there are those who are only kind to people they think are important. Finally, there are those who deeply believe in the unconditional worthiness of each person; regardless of the person’s demographic or socio-economic status.
Be the person who renews someone’s belief in humanity. Be the person who restores someone’s hope in the power of hospitality. One of the most liberating feelings in the world is doing something special for someone and not expecting anything at all in return.
Gandhi wrote, “To give pleasure to a single person is better than a thousand heads bowing in prayer.” To me, that means that I must focus on EACH person that I take care of, as though no one exists for that moment. It also means that you don’t undervalue the relevance of one customer because you are constantly thinking of all the customers.
Stand up and Claim it
But…what if you are the only person on your team with that mindset? What if your colleagues tease you about caring so much about people who you don’t know (aka “your customers). Never be ashamed of doing something good for someone else. Never feel like you have to explain your kindness or justify your high expectations. Love that about yourself. Don’t think that something is wrong with you if you have teammates who don’t share your conviction…or if you have a manager who doesn’t encourage your zest for service. Be exceptional anyway. Know, in your heart, that serving with passion, purpose and love is a beautiful thing. Challenge yourself to be an inspiration to those around you, even on days when you don’t feel like it. It doesn’t matter how passionate about service you are, there will be days when you would rather just do what you are supposed to do, then go home. But you won’t. You were not born to do just the bare minimum. Only your best efforts will do. Your work will either be done all the way…or not at all.