Hospitality - A Universal Concept
Having just returned from Malaysia, where the Asia Pacific Federation held a fantastic conference, I note with growing satisfaction just how hospitable our members are—time and again, regardless of location. Some might say that since we’re hospitality and tourism educators and researchers, it’s only natural that we’re friendly and always taking a service-first perspective. But being friendly isn’t a condition of employment—it’s more of a fringe benefit.
What makes me proudest is hearing from new members and learning about their first impressions. Here’s just one example: On the last day of the conference several of us embarked on a day-long tour of local sites in Kuala Lumpur. It was on the bus that I met a delightful doctoral student from Temple University. Ms. Kim explained that this was her first academic conference and praised our members for their friendliness and willingness to help. Others on the bus then commented that it doesn’t matter where the conference is or which federation is sponsoring it—ICHRIE members are simply nice. But that’s not the case in every management-related field.
Many years ago I listened to a speech given by the administrator of a leading business school. Addressing incoming MBA students, he informed them that they were not in school to experience hospitality and should not expect pleasantries such as someone holding a door open or offering unsolicited morning salutations on the way to class. He emphasized this to underscore how rigorous the program was and how only top performers were accepted into the school.
I take the polar opposite approach—maybe that’s what drew me to hospitality research. We only get one shot at this life and if we can make someone’s time on earth just a little better through hospitality, then we’ve succeeded. From simply brushing a leaf off a stranger’s shoulder in line at the grocery store to spending hours mentoring doctoral students to opening a bottle of wine and sharing it with the couple at the table next to you at the local restaurant, we encounter opportunities to be hospitable every day.
Frankly, we are blessed to be in such a people-first academic field. Think about it—we teach hospitality. I can’t think of a better way to tie every member of ICHRIE together . . .