My wife and I attended the recent Michael Bublé concert in Chicago at the Allstate Arena. The artist made you feel welcome; the Allstate Arena did not.
I don’t attend many concerts or sporting events anymore. The pressing of crowds and the costs involved are my main deterrents. For example, arriving at the arena, we whip out $25 for parking. Next, Rhonda wanted bottled water. Six bucks—the same as my soft drink. Then $12 for a burger and chips. We’re out $47 and the concert hasn’t started! And, yes, the tickets were pricey as well.
But my event frustration did not end there. Women were heavily shortchanged on bathrooms—much needed after the concert. And those stadium seats?? Absolutely the most uncomfortable as could be for a big guy. No room for knees. And the parking egress was miserable, too. Give me my big screen TV!
Aside from that inhospitable assortment, it was a mostly pleasurable experience. Bublé touched hands galore and interacted with the audience on a physical level more than any artist I’ve seen. He embraced his enthusiastic crowd in his words and his music. And they loved it.
There was one point where he expressed his desire to be open and transparent. It seemed like he wanted to share on a more personal level. Certain patrons started screaming “I love you, Michael” and it appeared to veer him off course. Too bad. He had the audience waiting. He was a most hospitable entertainer.
The art of hospitality is an interesting concept. Years ago, a pastor friend was describing to a group of church leaders about how it felt to visit a certain family’s home. He detailed how all the preparations to welcome you in had been carefully considered. The walkway with red ribbons and mini-lights. The fire in the fireplace, the choice of music in the background, the smell of warm cider as you entered. It all fit. And it felt good.
The word hospitality has Latin origins. Hospitalitem means "friendliness to guests.” There is an emphasis on the host in the relationship, one who obviously focuses on the well being of those welcomed in.
Corporations use the concept for their own purposes. At meetings and conventions, they will often reserve “hospitality suites”—to meet or entertain clients or potential customers. Wisely used, this environment is more relationship friendly than on the convention floor or in a sales meeting.
There is, of course, an entire “hospitality industry.” Usually this implies hotels and the like. The Glion Institute of Higher Education provides some excellent thinking on hospitality that applies not only to the hospitality industry, but to all of the marketplace. Suggested reading is their article, “Why is hospitality important in businesses?” (Link below.)
The “customer comes first” perspective should always be core to hospitality. As the article states, “a satisfied customer will tell three of their friends, while an angry one will tell 3,000.” In the age of social media, unhappy customers have a number of ways to share their disappointments.
Perhaps the most significant means of keeping tabs on hospitality is customer feedback. There are restaurant surveys and even follow up questions after doctor visits. They only pay off if someone is listening.
The Bible is a clear advocate of hospitality. From Old Testament guidelines on welcoming the stranger to New Testament meals and the intriguing idea that when welcoming unknowns into our home we could be entertaining angels! This one needs some careful thinking. (Hebrews 13:2)
Bottom line? Hospitality pays. There are dividends to reap in caring for others. The Beverly Hillbillies invited all to “have a heapin’ helpin’ of their hospitality.” I’m with them.
Y’all come back now…ya hear?
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