Lessons from a Hotel #1: Calling People by Name

I have spent most of my post-pastoral career in the hospitality industry as a manager in hotels. This can be a challenging yet rewarding career. Each day seems to bring interesting encounters with guests from around the world. Some of these encounters involve sharing in the joys of guests on a traveling adventure. Other encounters are gut-wrenching when guests are going through difficult times.

I plan to write a series of posts that examine some of the lessons I have learned in the hotel biz. The first lesson involves the usage of a guest’s name. When a guest walks through the front door of a hotel to check in, we want them to be greeted and welcomed warmly. We train the people at the front desk to use the name of the guest at least three times during the check in process.

Like most things, this can slip into a wooden formality. When that happens, it really is a waste of time.  When done well, it adds a nice touch.  Here are some sample scripts that use the name of the guest (Mr. Jones).

Welcome, Mr. Jones.

Mr. Jones, we have you staying with us for 3 nights.  Is that correct?

Is there any other way I might be of assistance to you now, Mr. Jones?

I think you get my drift.  This name usage serves several functions.

1.  It adds a personal touch.  “Welcome confirmation #12345” doesn’t have the same ring to it, does it?

2.  It serves as a memory tool.  Yesterday I checked a couple into our hotel.  Several hours later, I encountered them in the lobby.  I was able to greet them by name.

3.  It enables a deeper connection.  When I greeted this couple again, they began a short conversation.  I remembered that they were preparing to travel up north to see their kids and grandchildren.  We spoke about our grandchildren for a few minutes.  What grandparent doesn’t enjoy talking about their grandkids?  Had I not remembered their names, my latter greeting would have been more routine and less personal.  They might never have been able to tell me about their grandchildren.

Perhaps you might want to use the names of people you speak with more often.  I love hearing my wife call my name — even if it means I am about to be killing a spider.  I love answering my phone and hearing “Hi, Dad” from the other end.  I especially love hearing “Hi, Papaw.”

For those of us who are followers of Jesus, speaking the name of Jesus reminds of us the splendor of our Lord.  We recall his words and his deeds.  We reflect on who he is.  As Paul wrote,

Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
(Philippians 2:9-11 ESV)

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