I was sent an advance copy of The Heart of Hospitality: Great Hotel and Restaurant Leaders Share Their Secrets by Micah Solomon, and once I actually got started on the read, I couldn’t put it down.
I knew about some of the industry tidbits from my days as a Hotel Administration major at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Some brands have “secrets” that are actually pretty legendary, like the $2000 budget (without needing approval from a superior) given to each Ritz-Carlton employee, from the General Manager down to rooms attendants and bell staff, to ensure guest satisfaction. There are other ruminative observations on lesser-known items, like the understanding of Four Seasons Hotels & Resorts that the security provided by a firm but not obtrusive sound of a guest room door clicking shut behind a guest is a oft-forgotten but still vital part of the experience of feeling secure and well-looked after in a hotel.
After reading the book, I found myself already retelling several of the stories because they had resonated so much with me. My favorite was the story about the little girl who found her parents waiting for her on a red bench every day after she got done with kindergarten. It took her several weeks to realize that her parents had not been waiting on that red bench for her the entire day while she was at school – but that’s the illusion that employees working in hospitality should labor to create for their guests – that the guest interaction at hand is their sole purpose until it’s completed, and when it is, they return to the “red bench” to wait until the guest needs them again.
The audience for the book is certainly meant to be owners and managers of hospitality organizations (with a focus on hotels and restaurants, although there are honorable mentions to a handful of other groups) but anybody who has an interest in the mechanics and psychology of hospitality and customer service will be captivated with rapt attention from cover to cover.
The Heart of Hospitality is out October 11 from Select Books.