The Power of Hospitality

Have you ever been touched by hospitality? By the feeling of being taken care of? By the feeling that someone gets you? Like they can see into your thoughts and exactly predict what you need in that very moment to feel cared for?

I remember the first time I felt the power of hospitality. My wife and I were on a date night, our first in a while. It was a simple evening, dinner, and a movie. We were just getting back to relationship basics after the introduction of a child. But this date was going to be special because it was just us doing something we used to do before life got complicated.

Lady and the Tramp iconic noodle scene

Everything was perfect until we got word our dinner was delayed. Typically, not a huge deal, but the movies aren’t the movies to my wife and I unless we have a buffet of salty and sugary treats to snack on during the film. We find a nearby CVS and load her carry-on sized purse with Sour Patch Kids, Milk Duds, Starburst, Peanut Butter M&Ms, Chips Ahoy, Kettle Cooked Salt and Vinegar chips… you name it, nothing is off-limits nor shamed.

Now with dinner delayed, the euphoric CVS snack run was in peril, and as a result, the mere thought of going to the movie lost a bit of its appeal. After we told the restaurant manager about our movie plans, he did everything he could to get our meal out of the kitchen. Still, the longer it took, the dinner began to lose its appeal as well. Like a sulking child, I could feel a sour mood fermenting on the tip of my tongue. I wanted to scream foul and demand a do-over.

Pile of a variety of candy and sodas.
A selection of sugary sweets and drinks to accompany a health story about an anti-sugar campaign being launched in the North East. Picture: CHRIS BOOTH

Then it happened. No sooner was our meal brought to the table, did the restaurant manager approach with a CVS bag full of candy, cookies, chips, and sodas. He apologized again for the dinner delay and told us how going to the movies isn’t the same without treats and wished us a great night.

My wife and I were so blown away; we forgot our dinner arrived. This simple yet profound act of hospitality stirred our emotions. My wife couldn’t stop smiling, which made me smile. Suddenly, I was in a good mood again and could feel my entire being relax. The rest of the evening went off without a hitch. Date-night was a success and mainly due to the hospitality skills of the restaurant manager.

Why does this matter...

In all reality, the restaurant manager didn’t have to do what he did. I wasn’t threatening a bad Yelp review or demanding a full refund. I didn’t blame him or his staff for the food delay. Stuff happens in restaurants or for that matter, any aspect of life dependent on a level of human service. I get that and believe it’s all a part of the deal when you decide to put your experience in another’s hands.

What he did matters because well beyond the result of my amazing mood and general success of the date night, what he did took courage. He went out on a limb and personally invested himself in our situation. All based on an empathic response he could have read wrong. And that blew me away.

I like to think the restaurant manager did what he did because he cared. Our experience at his restaurant mattered to him and he took ownership over that. And by showing this very human response to our situation, he made us feel like we as people mattered.

Not only did I feel the generosity of his spirit in his act, but it gave me this odd sense of hope and encouragement by the capacity of the human spirit in general. In doing so, he turned a negative situation positive and I like to think all parties involved will carry that new understanding of our general human spirit potential with us forward into the world.

The truth is, when we as guests put our experience in the care of others, we give them a bit of ourselves. We loan out our trust and confidence, expecting the provider to return that trust and confidence unbroken by delivering on our expectations. And that’s why hospitality matters.

Hospitality is the gesture service providers can extend to those who place their trust and confidence in the products and services they offer. Moreover, it can act as an acknowledgment of the sacred bond that exists between service providers and guests because hospitality isn’t just about fixing problems. It is about establishing real-world human-to-human connections that bring about potential. To explicitly show through actions, that it is an opportunity and privilege to deliver service.

When interactions start with people emboldened by the potential alive in that interaction, everyone involved is better as a result.

This is the Synergy way. Passionate people, caring for others because we care about people. It isn’t about a job, or a thing we must do. It’s bigger, more ambitious.

It is about playing our role in the human condition. It’s about attention to detail. It’s about trust. It’s about courage. It’s about showing up when people need us the most. 

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