Welcome Home! A little ‘welcome’ goes a long way
Meet my new friends at The Brown Hotel, in Louisville, KY.
For the past several weeks, I’ve worked side by side with teams in various departments of this historic, 95-year old slice of hotel heaven. (Happy Birthday to The Brown, who celebrated 95 years last week, having opened her doors on October 25th, 1923!)
As an independent consultant working in a hotel operations task force capacity for the Fall season, I’ve been at once impressed and inspired by the staff, guests, and the city of Louisville, KY. Pardon my pride, born and raised in Eastern Kentucky, I can’t help but be proud of the genuine and authentic hospitality at The Brown and all throughout the Louisville Metro area.
Every day, and every night, guests arrive via the front drive of The Brown, on the “magic corner” of Fourth and Broadway for wide variety of reasons – dinner at the English Grill, a night’s stay in one of the most historical and sought after hotels in the south, a meeting or convention, a Kentucky Hot Brown (invented and made famous in the very kitchen J. Graham’s Cafe prepares them to this day), or a Kentucky Straight Bourbon cocktail in the elegant Lobby Bar before a night at the theater just blocks away on the vibrant and always happening Fourth Street.
Expectations are high and nervous anticipation can sometimes creep in for guests. For good reason. They want their evening, their night, and their experience to be just right. We all do, when we’ve planned for and set aside our hard earned money to enjoy time with our friends, family, or colleagues.
In the throes of the (organized) chaos that we all know tends to ensue on busy check in nights or check out mornings, it a hotel, a little welcome goes a long way, to calm nerves, relax minds, and spark fun, joy, and the very inspiration guests are hoping they find. I’m always amazed at how hospitality professionals like my new friends at The Brown Hotel pull this off effortlessly. They make it look so easy, but in reality it’s anything but.
It may be simple, but not always easy to make each and every guest feel welcome, when lines upon lines of cars, people, taxi’s, Uber’s, Lyft’s, and busses file in from every direction. With a genuine smile, a heart for hospitality, and a little old fashioned Kentucky charm, the Bell Services team pulls it off consistently and authentically. It’s been my great pleasure to not only witness their work, but to also be right there in the mix with them, delivering our services and creating an experience about which many leave with a story to tell. It’s that experience, feeling, and emotional connection which inspires guests to stay longer, spend more money, and most importantly, return to the property over and over again…in this case, for 95 years running!
Leaders Can Do The Same Thing With Their Teams
This is the first transferable truth of the spirit and essence of hospitality, in the context of leadership. As leaders, we have many deliverables, To Do’s, and responsibilities on our plate. We’re expected to drive results on various fronts – financial, culture-changing, team building, process improvement, customer service scores, and whatever else comes up in the board meeting or C-suite. Getting into the manager, director, or vice president role is only half the battle. Inspiring appropriate levels of action and productivity is among the first of many tall tasks awaiting any leader on any level.
This may sound glaringly obvious, but it’s worth stating to introduce the importance of the principle of leading with hospitality. The extent to which any leader is successful in leading a team depends largely on whether or not members of said team are compelled to follow them, as their fearless leader. The first step in compelling anyone to follow you as a leader is to first and foremost, make them feel welcome.
If they feel welcome, they will stay on your team, in your corner, on your side, and most importantly, with your organization. Perhaps even more important than them staying with your organization is what they do and how they perform while they’re in it.
They’ll begin to enjoy not only your presence, but also delivering results for you and on your behalf. If and when they feel welcome and actually enjoy their experience, working on your team and in your presence, your Guests, customers, and clients will see it and feel it. If and when your Guests, customers, and clients see it and feel it, well then, you’re well on your way to developing sustainable and profitable business. They will return again and again, while telling stories about their experience to anyone who will listen on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and SnapChat, not to mention in the grocery store, at the coffee shop, at the gym, and on the plane.
This all will have started because you first made the members of your team feel welcome.
When They Feel Welcome
Here’s what happens when people genuinely feel welcome:
- They relax and begin to feel safe, which allows them to be themselves. (and that’s why you hired them. So, you may want them to be “them”, as much as possible.)
- They begin to have an open mind, which sparks their creativity for new, fresh ideas.
- They have less anxiety and fear, fewer doubts, and more energy, passion, and commitment.
- They begin to enjoy their experience, which makes them more loyal.
Thanks to my new friends at The Brown, and thanks for allowing me to share this quick story of my own experience, spending several weeks in my old Kentucky home.
There really is no place like home, mostly because at home, we always feel welcome.
Make the individuals on your teams feel welcome, every chance you get. You won’t be disappointed with the effort, passion, devotion, and productivity you’ll see as a result. Perhaps even more meaningful will be the culture you continue to see changing and the relationships your organization will continue to foster with all who work, play, and do business with your company.
Have a great day.