About 10 years ago, I spent a lot of time in South Florida and developed a real appreciation for the culture, food and weather. They say humidity is good for the skin!
Today, I arrived in Miami and took the shuttle to my hotel, which was on the airport property. I was hungry for lunch when I arrived, and the front desk told me they served lunch until 3:30 p.m. I headed to the restaurant 20 minutes later and noticed a sign that said they were only serving lunch until 3 p.m. After all of the confusion, I finally found the hostess, who said they were closed. I pointed out it was only 2:55 p.m., but she told me again they were closed.
I proceeded to look for the manager, but with no one in the restaurant, I went into the kitchen. It took about three times of asking, "Anyone home?" before a gentleman walked out and offered to help me. I told him what happened and he said, “of course we can make you lunch.”
Ken (that’s his name) walked me to a table, found me a server who took my order: a portobello mushroom burger (vegan, of course!).
When I finished lunch, Ken came to check on me and I invited him to sit down. I told him I run a business myself and realized he had a training opportunity on his hands with his hostess. I was curious how he was going to handle it, and the most interesting conversation began.
It turns out that Ken isn't the manager, but the company “troubleshooter” that comes in from corporate to assist hotel properties having challenges.
We had a fabulous conversation about training and he told me how Hilton Hotels work. He talked about their systems and processes for sanitation (really important in the foodservice business), how they are creating healthier food options on their menu and how they plan to make the entire check-in process for the business traveler more friendly and seamless. We talked about the kinds of water he wants to serve in the hotels (he likes Voss) and importance of uniforms on wait staff. Ken has been in the food business for at least 30 years, but his current role is being an expert for “perfecting the guest experience.”
Ken totally gets the “360 experience” from the viewpoint of a guest. When I handed him my card, it was heartening when he recognized our company name. “Frieda’s?" he said. "I’ve been using Frieda’s products for years!” Little did I know that my one day trip to Miami would inspire me to be even more passionate about the importance of training and setting expectations.