Hospitality: When Presented with a Gift, Accept it.

August 29th, 2015 | hereschicago
Jim Grillo, CMP

Jim Grillo, CMP

By Jim Grillo, CMP

Hospitality: When Presented with a Gift, Accept it.

Remember when you were a kid and you received the greatest gift in the world?  Maybe it was that train set, bike, Atari (showing my age), go kart or erector set that you’ve always wanted.  For me, the greatest gift I was presented with as a child happened to be a guitar which I have always wanted to learn how to play and to this day I still play that same guitar!  I will always remember how special that day was and how happy I was when I was presented with it.  So I ask you; what was that special gift that you were presented with that provided you with that truly enjoyable moment in YOUR life? Think about it now.  What was it?  Ok, do you remember how happy it made you feel and how you enjoyed that gift?  I’ll bet that gift was so special to you that you didn’t want to go to bed at night and you couldn’t wait to wake up in the morning to enjoy your gift again.

Ok, let’s fast forward to today. You are in the hospitality industry and the actual gift you receive today has changed; however, the meaning of the gift remains the same.  I am referring to your customer who has come to you interested in your services…be it word of mouth, a referral or found you through the heavy lifting that you spent tireless hours working on securing.  My question is, can you or do you accept and appreciate the fact that your customer is a special gift being presented to you?

Hear me out. My analogy that “a customer is a gift” stems from a vacation I took to Mexico many years ago. From the time I got off the plane to the time I left, the staff at the hotel treated me like I was “their” gift.  I felt like I was their 1st and only customer during every interaction throughout my stay.  They made me feel like they were genuinely interested in making my experience the best experience even though they had 500 other customers that day alone.

In turn, I will always remember everything associated with my vacation and their hospitality: the airline brand, the resort name, our bartender “Jorge”, the brand “Victoria” and our floor manager “Daniel”.  Why?  Because they truly were invested in me as a customer; they enjoyed, embraced, accepted and “un-wrapped their gift”.

They not only provided an exceptional experience for me, but, they elevated their organization’s brand, one that I will always remember and always refer. To this day, they set the benchmark in hospitality.  They taught me that the true meaning of hospitality stands for “providing genuine, friendly help to another” and enhancing the experience of an individual customer (not plural!); each customer is unique and different than the other and one shall provide the best possible experience for each customer individually at every moment and every interaction.  A hospitality professional is someone who genuinely wants to understand the customer’s goals and help the customer achieve their goals.  And in doing so, the customer gets to know you and remember you, long after they have left.  If a customer remembers your name, you have reached the pinnacle of what hospitality means.  You’ve made a “genuine” connection with the customer which not only provided them with a superb experience, you have done something even bigger; you’ve create a memory, built a loyalty that transcends just one experience; you’ve enhanced your organization’s brand as well.  THAT’S hospitality.

When a customer is presented to you, remember that Hospitality includes treating your customer as your gift – Accept it.   If you need a reminder that your customer is the most important person today, just remember back to the day you received that special gift as a child and how it made you feel.  

Chicago Hospitality Industry veteran, Jim Grillo, CMP is a certified meeting professional and hospitality industry motivational speaker for organizations that are seeking to elevate their customer service & sales.  Jim is the President of, a hospitality marketing organization making connections in the meetings & events industry.  Contact Jim Grillo, CMP

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