By Noah Parks
Recently the New York Times ran an article called, “What is Hospitality? That struck at the core of what we do at HMG+: we provide people the opportunity to be a part of our community to train in service, to elevate their skills and gain confidence. Our industry is a sum of all of it’s parts, however the most critical element is the person. The people in the seats, in the kitchen, taking your order, shaking a drink, they’re all connected. No one comes back to a restaurant just for the food. They come back for what the people can provide. They want to gather and connect. Which is why we believe that the answer to the NYTimes’ question is: People.
In a recent call with a client we were discussing the need for investment in people and that a valuation of a hospitality company is not simply their finances. It’s their people. The higher valuations of companies include their personnel. If the company doesn’t invest in the people they can’t expect a bigger return. According to vplegacies.com, “No matter what size the business is, success is the result of continuous hard and smart efforts put in by happy and valued employees.” This means continuously investing in their wellbeing and training. We see the opposite in our industry a lot: business isn’t going well so they stop investing in their employees. Am I supposed to expect exceptional service from someone on their fourth double, who is being squeezed by management, and hasn’t had a raise in five years?
We need to support the person that is working in hospitality with…drumroll…hospitality! You can’t demand individuals to provide endless generosity. Why do we do this? According to Forbes, “ By showing employees through your investment in them that you care about them — not just as workers, but as people — you’ll foster a work environment that inspires them”. HMG+ knows this too, which is why we train and prepare individuals to shine not only for their knowledge and skills but also their personality. Being confident about what you’re doing allows you to open up to people while providing a high level of service. People and their personalities shining because they’re cared for is the X factor that hospitality requires.
In my journey through hospitality I’ve discovered that people that do this work, do it out of love. They care about the strangers that come to their restaurants, bars, and hotels. This isn’t just work, it’s a labor of love. How many times have you heard someone complain about all that’s wrong with a table or a manager, and go on to spend another decade doing it before becoming the manager or the owner of their own establishment? It’s like the kid on the playground that picks on someone because they actually care. We may not always have a sunshiny day at work but our industry is about the people, not the work.
We define hospitality in terms of the people. They provide the service and receive it. They fill our events, restaurants, and bars. They make Nonna’s recipe that’s off the boat, open a place in their hometown, and provide for their families while taking care of yours. This industry can’t survive on apps, technical knowledge, and trends. It requires genuine human interaction. When we connect with people our lives open up and we create memories. Oftentimes in hospitality we will forget where we were, or when, or maybe other technical details are off (was it fish or chicken we had? White wine or sparkling?). We rarely forget who we were with. That’s because hospitality is people.