The leisure guest

Being at this property (the Hyatt Regency Mission Bay in San Diego, where I recently transferred) I can’t help but think back to my family vacations — the vacations that made me fall in love with this industry. We stayed in resort-style, family-oriented hotels much like the one where I currently work. Seeing all the families walking through the property and hanging out by the pool makes me think of the trips my mother planned for us. I think of the time and effort she put in to make everything perfect for her family.

Then I think about when things went wrong. Now, my mother is the best person I know. She is kind, charismatic, intelligent and everything right with the world, but do not get on Sandy’s bad side. I vividly remember things not going according to plan and the aftermath — whether it be at a hotel, restaurant, amusement park, mini-golf course — wherever! Do not think you can put one over on her.

I was a kid, so I didn’t really understand or care what the drama was all about, but I get it now. She worked hard for these vacations with her family, and things should go as planned. The last thing she ever wanted to feel was that she — or, more importantly, her family — was being taken advantage of. I respect that and understand it more and more each day.

These are the types of guests I deal with — very different from the business clientele I had the pleasure of serving in New York. They have high expectations (rightfully so) and do not want to hear excuses. It makes it more challenging, because they are not the well-traveled market, either.

My guests, for the most part, are paying for their own rooms. They have saved a lot of money for these trips, and in many cases this might be the only vacation they will take all year or for a number of years. I don’t want to say that I sympathize with them more than the traditional business guest, but I guess I can relate to them more. If something goes wrong I try to think of my mother and how she would feel. This helps me help them.  

Applying difficult work situations to my personal life helps me get through them. I can connect to the guests on a human level rather than a professional level. My family is still like this for the most part. Next time you’re in a difficult situation, think about how you or someone close to you would react and step into their world for a moment.