Last week was great and as always I’m grateful for all the opportunities that have come my way. I’m in the middle of a job in Colorado and after last week’s workshop, the CEO of the company, at my request, gave me some feedback about a little something I could add to the program that would make him happy.
And so of course I did. One of his requests was that I speak to the idea of “Hospitality”. He likes that word and it what it represents. What I love about it is that he is in a highly technical business where almost all customer visits have to do with fixing and tinkering in some technical manner. How interesting that “Hospitality” is the feeling he would like his customer facing team to display. His own warmth, friendliness and openness really set the stage for the kind experience he wants his company to deliver.
So there I was, in the airport – reading my evaluation forms when I saw his note. “Hmmm”, I’m thinking, “How will I expand on the concept of hospitality and where? What might help my audience “get” the emotional piece of that.
I was flying home on SouthWest Airlines and when my number was called I walked down the jetway headed home.
I noticed something different. Usually the jetway is used as a billboard. The airline usually displays its clever advertising and attempts to make an emotional connection to you by reinforcing the value you are experiencing, like, in the case of SouthWest, “Bags fly free.”
Something was different this time. There was no advertising or selling message. There was no clever play on words. In fact there were no words. Only friendly smiling faces. The entire jetway was lined with full size pictures of SouthWest Airlines employees smiling, cheering and giving “thumbs up” signs.There must have been more than two dozen of them.
Frankly it was impossible for me NOT to smile. The clear and life-like pictures make it feel like I was surrounded by happy people. And guess what? It made me happy.
A few moments after I sat down I realized I had missed an opportunity and so before the forward boarding door closed I asked for permission to go back down the jetway (real quick) and snap a few shots with my still new phone. (Hence the less than perfect pic.) The flight attendant grinned when I told her I just had to dash down the jetway for a moment and take some pictures of the people on the wall.
I felt welcome. I felt like hospitality (not indifference, not rudeness, not efficiency) had actually been extended even before the cheerful flight attendant said hello.
I’m heading back to CO on a different airline tomorrow. I’ll be calibrating my feelings and thinking about what I will be telling this new group of technical people about the affect the of this “welcoming” experience.
I think I will tell it when I am teaching about “moments of magic”. I surely hope the people at Delta are all as friendly tomorrow ~ a little Southern Hospitality please.
Smile! You never know who is watching.