Art is defined as “something that is created with imagination and skill and is beautiful or that expresses important ideas or feelings” (Merriam-Webster). Hospitality is an art as it relates to the people you seek to serve or connect with. What can be more powerful than investing in people and their needs?
Hospitality is the art of anticipating needs. Anticipating denotes prediction, preparation and foresight. Of course “needs” are relative and this is where imagination and intelligence are useful skills to deploy.
Here are three traits for developing the art of hospitality. Each of these aspects are easily transferable for application at home or at work.
1. Gather Intelligence
Intelligence is one of the first steps in the art of hospitality and is key to identifying information from your guests or customers. It is appropriate to determine the target audience or a basic profile of a guest. Environment, events, activities and available resources are all forms of intelligence that will help you craft a hospitable experience. Examples include identifying dietary restrictions, favorite beverages or interesting facts about your guests to propel good conversation.
2. Develop an Eye for Detail
Now that you have gained intelligence, it is time to apply with a heavy dose of detail. Your intelligence should inform your detailed plans and can create the wow in your guest experience. Disney Institute teaches that details communicate by sending a message to your guests. They refer to this as “Everything Speaks” (Kinni, Theodore, Be Our Guest: Perfecting the Art of Customer Service, (New York: Disney Editions, 2011), 22-23). If you are not naturally a detail-oriented person, try developing your situational awareness at an event or business. Start by scanning a room or environment and picture in your mind how it should look ideally. You may notice trash on the floor, poorly designed signage, employees out of uniform and so on. Practice this by walking through your own space regularly searching for improvements and upgrades but be careful, this can be addicting and could lead to chronic negative criticism. It is always good to filter comments as appropriate and season with grace and kindness. Your eye for detail is a means to an end which is to serve people. Don’t let your attention to detail hijack your main focus.
3. Focus on People
It is game time when your guest arrives. While you should always be gathering intelligence to make modifications or course corrections, the time for preparedness must stop and you should devote your attention toward your guests. Remain vigilant and remember that your detailed planning and preparedness should pay off – focus on your guests because they are the priority now that they are with you. When you are with your guests, be sure to greet them with a warm smile and remember all of those manners your mother taught you (a blog post for another day).
Hospitality is the art of anticipating the needs of your guests. These simple principles will apply to any situation regardless of your position or purpose. For home, church or business, hospitality is the key ingredient to creating a memorable experience which contributes to your brand or reputation.
What have you found successful in creating your art of hospitality?
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