To get an idea of what I mean, have a look at the following scenarios.
- While being served at a restaurant attached to a hotel, the server at the table was more than a little inexperienced in her role as a waitress. It seemed like the tables of customers were a bother to her and it showed in her attitude. She got orders wrong, spilled the food, and when serving wine actually created a storm in the wine glass with the sound effects of thunder. The glass was noisily placed on the table with the wine sloshing around inside the bowl of the glass. She didn't know who the party comprised of, neither did she care.
- Another restaurant and bar attached to a hotel, the male server on this occasion tried to communicate mentally, he came up to the inside of the bar where a large party was seated, put his hands in both pockets and hoped the beverage orders would in some way make their way to his head. He carried an attitude since he was witnessed being taken to task for the poorly concocted drinks he made and tried to serve. An opportunity to correct/improve his night and those of the patrons forever gone.
- The taxi driver who is anxious to bring you from the airport so he can get a fare and complete his daily work by midday. Reeked of perspiration, admittedly it was a hot day, and when asked about how to get from the hotel to a particular destination suggest it was in walking distance. When the trip took place later in the day, it was a 15-minute trek up and down steep winding roads. Really? Leaving a card would not mean that you would be called again, especially since you don't know your own country. Broken trust is not easily repaired.
Perhaps our myopic view of who is our customer, often emphasized by the tourism industry has come home to roost. The old definitions which so clearly depicted what a tourist looks like have created a callousness in our minds as a region, making us numb to the realities of the real hospitality. Dulling our senses where we miss opportunities to serve right before us, and in many cases losing earnings that those who require service would be more than willing to pay us for.
It's time that we move beyond the service for a reward, and rekindle our values of hospitality where we are really nice to our guests, where ever they are from. Remembering individuals and not looking at them as niches, targets, and all the other terms that marketing has allowed us to label them. People the world over want to be made to feel special and valued. Often they don't get it at home, which they work so hard to maintain year round.