Hospitality: providing more than just a smile |

Hospitality: providing more than just a smile

Tony Herrera Hospitality
Dominique Taylor | Special to the Daily

Recently I was asked during an interview, “What is the greatest impact you can create on your business?”

For me, it is simple — truly being hospitable. Although it sounds elementary, I firmly believe that operating according to this simple concept can transform business as usual, and can result in not only happy customers, but happy employees as well. You just need to ask, what does that look like to you?

Basic hospitality is defined as the friendly and generous reception and entertainment of guests, visitors or strangers. When I read this, I would dare to think that this is how all businesses, restaurants, hotels and more would and should operate on a rudimentary level. But then I wonder, “Are we in this industry really receiving our guests in a friendly and generous manner to create an amazing experience, or are we just providing standard customer service?”

Often when you walk into a restaurant, hotel or just about any place of business, we are stuck with the task-oriented service provider, order takers and paycheck collectors. I’m not here writing that the service that we are providing is poor, but rather that each of us can engage with our guests on an elevated level to provide more then basic customer service. For example, basic customer service can be completed efficiently and consistently, and can meet customer expectations, such as your food arriving from the kitchen within 12 minutes and your Amazon order arriving within two days. What can make a difference, however, is providing hospitality — an emotional connection. Let’s start taking the time to identify needs by listening to our customers and asking questions in order to build a relationship. We should be asking guests where they are from and what brings them in, rather than when they can check in and when you must leave. We should be offering suggestions and house favorites, rather than, “Have you had a chance to look at the menu?” or “Can I offer you a drink?”

One of my first employers taught me the phrase, “The answer is yes, what is the question.” I wanted to argue that the answer is not always yes, but over time, he taught me that while it may not be a simple “yes,” it is also not a simple “no.” By listening to what our guests need, we can often times provide a solution or a “yes.” We must be able to meet guest needs and requirements. “Yes” is powerful. Unless its illegal, unethical or amoral, we should be going out of our way to make our guests feel at home. This is where true hospitality is. Think of the last time you attended a great party or event. What are some of the things you remember?

Our community lives, breathes and requires guests to come to our town and experience our many great offerings. Form the mountain, retail stores, restaurants, hotels or wherever you work; we have a responsibility to be hospitable. These days, guests have a vast range of options to choose from. Whether it’s geographical location or price and even the community and hospitality that is provided within the destination of choice.

Lets all work together and provide a more memorable and hospitable environment for all to enjoy and more to come visit.

Tony Herrera is the general manager of bol, located at the Solaris in Vail Village. Herrera is a Vail Chamber & Business Association board member. The Vail Chamber & Business Association is a business advocacy group in Vail and a communications outlet for businesses that want to have a voice in community affairs. For more information, call 970-477-0075 or email

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