Posted on Nov 23, 2020 9:13:00 AM by Aaron
The hospitality industry is a storied one and people like myself have built iterations of what the service standard means for our guests and ourselves year after year. In an increasingly transactional world, the act of giving and receiving service has become mundane and common. When service is good, it’s just that. Good. Fine. Acceptable. When service is bad, that’s when people react. They spring into action, most often sharing their experiences with everyone—i.e. social media and other public forums without so much as a second thought.
The age-old phrase “there’s no such thing as bad publicity” doesn’t hold true in this hyper-shared world we live in. For those of us in hospitality, we know that to be all too real. Regardless of which industry segment we represent, we know today’s consumers are research-savvy; they usually ask for recommendations and pore over reviews no matter what they intend to buy. It’s an information overload—turned fire hydrant that shapes how people make purchase decisions. And, it’s usually the one-star or subpar ratings that get the most traction and validation creating a social proof that focuses on the bad.
That all sounds … depressing. I acknowledge that. But to me, it sounds like opportunity.
An opportunity to change how people not only view hospitality but give and receive service from each other. As humans at this point in 2020, we’ve had our fair share of the bleak, dismal, and frightening reality all around us. Again, there’s an opportunity there and it’s up to us to change the narrative. In my last post, I shared the KAJ purpose and rebrand which gives more context to this content.
Here’s how KAJ envisions and embodies the term hospitality and how it extends beyond the front desk and lobbies of our properties.
Serving and helping. Two covenants of the choices we make each day. We choose how we welcome people into our realms whether personal or professional. The energy we give off and warmth we exude are choices. The eminence and radiance of our personalities and characteristics. Smiling and making eye contact instead of looking away. Having loose, casual body language means relaxation, therefore, putting others at ease. It’s welcoming and you’ll know if it’s authentic or for show.
In practice, KAJ has an internal program we call KAJ Cares. It's a quarterly-based volunteer effort our team participates in together, affecting the communities we serve. This has become part of our culture and not only is an internal way to support cohesion, goodwill, and action, but it's important to us to be visible beyond our lobbies.
Our name—KAJ Hospitality—doesn't adorn our properties. Instead we honor our team and causes alike by connecting on missions outside our buildings and believe our name is less important than the collective impact we have on community.
It’s what we do. The values we have and the actions we take in the name of service and servitude. It’s how we’re vulnerable and non-judgmental. It’s how we seek first to understand and extend common courtesies to one another. It's how we serve our acquaintances, relatives, and loved ones. It’s feelings and empathy. Most importantly, these are actions we conduct without expecting anything in return.
There's also the notion of responding to needs and critical issues, springing into action where we can lend our support. In June, our Ralston, NE Holiday Inn Express provided temporary housing for families affected by pandemic-related issues keeping them from home. The decision to provide stability and comfort in a time where both seem to come at premium isn't even a decision; it's action we feel strongly about taking and I personally commend the organizations and agencies in the Omaha market, such as the Nebraska Children and Families Foundation, for collaborating on the cause.
Places transform people—think of your own sacred places. Your family cabin. The once-in-a-lifetime trip. Your grandparents’ dining room table. Your back porch. These places transform you, but it’s not the inanimate objects or proximity that facilitates the feelings; it’s the people associated with each of those places. The people are who humanize experiences and places. The feelings people get when they’re welcomed, safe, comfortable, and accepted come from people themselves.
Earlier this year, our Fargo-West Fargo property teams collaborated with Valley Senior Services to prepare and distribute Meals on Wheels for neighbors in assisted living and other care communities—those feeling the impact of the pandemic and social isolation perhaps more than the general population. Hospitality is a feeling, and one that can be felt through the actions of connecting even in someone's home.
Values are an individual’s true north. This is intent and purpose alike and living out the best of both in forward-facing hospitality. It’s the belief that how you serve and honor people helps establish the basis for your company and its culture. When inherently, hospitality is within your core belief system, it becomes what you’re known for and expectations will rise to create an ecosystem of good.
Internally, we have a program called KAJ Bucks. This employee recognition system highlights the efforts of our team and the choices they make that reflect our core values. Not everyday will there be grand-scale efforts being made to extend hospitality to those in need, but that doesn't diminish the culture of serving and treating each other like family. Often, it's the little things that go the furthest in terms of value. A small token of appreciation whether a giftcard or added payroll bonus plus words of gratitude mean all the difference for our team.
KAJ is here for people, and it starts with our own.