The language of hospitality

The language of hospitality

There is a special and distinct language that belongs to the world of great hospitality. Even if you can’t find the language course at the nearest Rosetta Stone kiosk, I promise you, it does exist. In fact, the more you focus on the words you choose to use, the more you will see them at play throughout your organization producing results I promise you want to have.

First, when I consult, here are some sample words that will no longer exist in language: 

  • Customer satisfaction (Yes, that’s right!): Getting your team focused on customer satisfaction as the end game is a strategy to forfeit potential loyal guests and raving fans.
  • Employee (Not bad in and of itself, but it doesn’t call forth anything spectacular.) 
  • Don’t 
  • Not 
  • No (Even as in “no worries” or “no problem.”)
  • Problem
  • Unfortunately
  • Policy
  • Can’t
  • Have a nice day
For example, “no problem” brings a negative context where none existed and is a passionless way of speaking (it’s not even possible to smile when you say it). “Policy” is completely hotel-centric and puts people on the defensive. Imagine what words you might coach your team to use instead of those above. 

You could say, “Hey, Nanci, this is just semantics.” “Nay,” I reply. I assert that the language that comes forth from the culture you create will sculpt the results in your business. A culture without a true guest-centric and passionate focus has the above words show up throughout the day. They will be evident when you speak to your guests and team and actually will influence how big you can dream. 

If you hail from Brazil, you might speak Portuguese. If you were born in Mexico, perhaps you speak Spanish. And, yes, this language has a name too. When you come from the State of Great Hospitality you speak the language of “Upliftment.” 

I write standards that have this as the end game of every conversation. Outside of skill-based training — be it computer-based, painting or creating the perfect demi-glace — consider, based upon your newly identified culture, throwing out a challenge to your team to interact based on one premise: “Your responsibility here is to uplift people.” This is the beginning of creating a truly inspiring culture. How might this shift your guest experience, your turnover, the people you bring on board, the “vibe” in your place? This is the ultimate lifestyle kicker in your guest experience and will have a tremendous impact on turnover, productivity, participation and so on.

So, let’s start raising the bar for what we want our guests to experience through our language. “We want satisfied customers” has a far different ring from “We will do whatever it takes so we are number one in our guests’ hearts.” I hope you can distinguish the intention behind each and picture the results that must follow.