Dear people in the hospitality industry who are *not* hospitable,
This letter is from all the travelers who counted down the days until their vacation… and then they met YOU.
If you work in hospitality, but wouldn’t know what hospitality meant even if you stepped in a big steamy pile of it, read on.
I’m not talking about Italy, by the way. I’m talking about the low bar travelers find at times no matter where we go in the world.
If you’re in the accommodation rental business (either as a seasoned vet who remembers the days of telephone bookings, or as a newbie, freshly feeding off the teet of the Airbnb/VRBO cow) you may want to brush up on a few key concepts:
- Remember that before they check into your apartment, some of your customers have flown 17 hours, have taken 3 taxis and 3 Tylenols, and haven’t closed their eyes since the plane lifted off the tarmac (except if you include that second where they squeezed them shut against the operatic shriek coming from the toddler in seat 36D). You should make damn sure you have emailed them clear instructions about how to arrive at your ridiculously-difficult-even-for-a-local-to-find apartment. Or better yet — send a driver for them and eat the bill. That’s service and compassion they’ll adore you for.
- Don’t advertise you have a kitchen if you can’t be bothered to leave the basics for your guests who will be using it. The bare minimum is salt, pepper, oil, vinegar, a clean sponge (you heard me — brand spanking new), dish soap, a stack of tea towels and napkins. (A few cold beers in the fridge never killed anyone, either.) If you have advertised you can do laundry in your listing, you should provide laundry soap (yup, I’m THAT demanding).
- You should sharpen your knives more than once a decade and try and supply some that were purchased post-Second World War. If your kitchen knives can’t cut melting pistachio gelato (or the awkward silence following the kitchen tour), make the bold claim in your apartment listing that your kitchen is not equipped for actual cooking. PS: Butter knives are not chef knives.
- You can’t leave a family of four with four measly rough-to-the-skin towels for a 3-week stay. You’ll need to triple that. And if you want to be WILD, throw in some beach or pool towels. I like the thin cotton Moroccan ones, and they cost a whole 10 bucks a pop.
- You can’t offer as the only respite from humidity a single dusty, creaky fan that’s probably circulating mothy closet air from being stuck in the back of one behind tons of random boxes. You can’t. It’s not illegal, but it should be.
May we suggest: You stick your hands in your pockets. I know your pockets are tight but dig down just a little deeper. Yes, now you’ve found it! That magical space where a few hundred bucks are tightly rolled (albeit slightly crinkled because your talons have been gripping those bills hard). Now head to Ikea and drop them on some things called Solleron, Krossa and Mastholmen, and get to sprucing up your rooms. Voilà — with the money you collect from a single-night stay, you’ve successfully brought your business into 2019.
If you run a shop (food, artisan, clothing etc.) in a tourist area and…
- you have “No Photos” posted in the window, and spend most of your day trying to enforce this rule.
- you have “Do Not Touch” signs posted on your shelves, and spend most of your day telling offenders off.
- you have no patience for offering directions to poor lost souls who wander in.
- you have a grumpy-ass I-hate-you-all face on.
May we suggest: You take a vacation to Timbuktu, and upon return, take up employment behind a desk where you don’t have access to tourists.
If you work inside restaurants and bars and…
- you start rolling your eyes, huffing or shaking your head when your customer is taking .000001 of a second longer to decide between the lasagna or the fish than you have bandwidth for.
- you take offense should a customer want to add another chair to the table to accommodate an arriving friend.
- you take it personally should a customer not want to order in the sequence you expect, or wants a cappuccino after their dinner (you’re not drinking it, what do you care?).
May we suggest: A reminder that at times, working in the service of customers means you need to channel the patience of a surgeon, the compassion of Mother Teresa and the joy of a lottery winner. If you don’t have these qualities (and can’t fake it when needed), then release your job to someone else who loves it more than you.
In a world where we’re increasingly disconnected from real humans, do your part and show your customers that you give a damn.
Hospitality means going that extra mile, and doing whatever you can to create an incredible experience.
To me, hospitality means a generosity of heart and spirit.
If you don’t have it, get out of this industry.
We, as tourists and travelers on our precious vacation, don’t want to waste one millisecond of our time in front of your grumpy mug, or lame apartment or shop.
Go spend your time and energy on another project — like working for the Department of Motor Vehicles.
We’ll thank you for it. You might thank yourself for it.
Alternatively, may we suggest you start acting hospitable. Next time a booking rolls through, I dare you to surprise and delight your guests.
Lovers of stress-free vacations