As chairperson of The International Hotel School, I was invited to become an honorary member of the New England Inns and Resort Association (NEIRA), which provided me a complimentary registration to attend their annual conference held in Newport, Rhode Island. Since the BS – Hotel & Lodging Management degree has two elective courses directly related to this niche market, Resort/Spa and Timeshare Management as well as Developing and Managing a Small Hospitality Lodging Property, this seemed like an ideal opportunity to obtain some inside information from local industry experts to share in the classroom.
In general, topics ranged from sales to technology to revenue management to time management and even creative cocktails — an especially yummy session! However, at least four offerings focused on the consistent trend of guest service, including the opening general session speaker, Richard Coraine, Chief of Staff for Union Square Hospitality Group (USHG). (For those “foodies” reading this, you’ll recognize USHG as the umbrella organization for JWU Honorary Degree Recipient Danny Meyer who owns a collection of some of New York’s most celebrated venues — Eleven Madison Park, Blue Smoke, Shake Shack, and Union Square Café — just to name a few.)
The first part of this blog’s title is one of the memorable lines from nearly two pages of notes taken during this session, which was replete with tidbits and tips reflecting USHG’s “enlightened hospitality” service philosophy. Allow me to share a few factoids Coraine suggested that lead to “essentiality,” a term he considers critical in the hospitality industry today.
- You need to be evolutionary, not revolutionary to survive in the marketplace.
- Hospitality is when things happen for you, not to you.
- Think inside the box: How do you make your own business essential?
- Everyone wants 100 percent on their test — 49 percent of hospitality is technical (everything has to work); however, it’s the remaining 51 percent that makes service memorable and adds to the grade.
- In every transaction, remember the Wizard of Oz: Use your brain (the Scarecrow), your heart (the Tin Man), and your courage (the Lion).
- We’re in the hugging business. You give one; you get one.
- Less imposition and more improvisation is needed for customers to say “I’ve got to have some of that on a regular basis.”
- One size fits one: Don’t think for the customer, ask them what they want, and make them feel important. After all, they have other choices.
Let me close by sharing the three questions his company asks when interviewing potential candidates. Think of your own responses and examples just in case you want to work for USHG!
- What is the misconception that others have about you? Why isn’t it true?
- What is the last gift you gave, for any reason?
- Who do you admire, for any reason?
If you’d like to learn more about Danny Meyer’s “enlightened service” philosophy, consider one of his books, Setting the Table (two volumes) and Second Helpings from Union Square Hospitality.