Customer’s always right, right?

I’ve banged on endlessly about general laid-back hospitality; we love providing a framework for guests to be themselves. It’s the “second lead” subject of my last post. But we got into a spin on a booking last week. A special family event, a *milestone*. It was soon apparent that the organiser was projecting onto us all of her worries and emoting about the party. She “hoped not to be disappointed” and alarm bells rang. She had had all the pre-booking informations and menus, right? She knew what we offer, right? Where had we gone wrong?

Luckily, we’ve got our psych-system sorted here and we’re not averse to offering a listening ear. In the event, we connected with Mum and it was a lovely, if slightly off-beat, event. But we definitely had to take the upper hand and be direct about parameters, expectation, cost, timing……those important factors that both drive a good business and that keep guest anxiety corralled. A checklist and explicit timeline was called for! The disconnect between experience and anxiety is sometimes hard to bridge from the guest’s perspective. And sometimes the provider doesn’t draw the lines and mops up later.

 What I wanted to say is something I have learnt: hospitality is a two way street. No one succeeds in our line of business unless they want to provide a framework of care for our guests. But, equally, we all deserve consideration and respect from our guests for what we can actually do, and real boundaries. Maybe we should reinvent the term “service industry” as something more mutual?

I think where this is going is that no one can rely on a third person to secure their memories or emotions. It’s not too woke to say we’re all in charge of our own significant moments. Each member of that family took something different away from the evening, and we were pleased to frame it. But the anxiety was two sided; we care just as much as you about the experience.