Contagious Attitudes

One of the perils of traveling frequently is that you are constantly exposed to others who can make you sick. They won’t infect you in the typical way with their germs, but rather with their bad attitudes. If you spend much time at airports, hotels and restaurants you will be exposed to enough indifference, phony smiles, self-centered behavior and downright rudeness to put even the most positive attitude at risk.

Frankly, your expectations eventually become pretty low. When you find yourself beginning to have “sick attitude” symptoms, it’s great to find an elixir – attentive service with a genuine smile attached. And not just by one person, but rather an entire staff of them. Wow! You can feel yourself perking up like flowers after a gentle rain.

I had two such experiences this week in very different surroundings. The first was at the St. Louis Airport Marriott. It is a large property located across a busy interstate highway from a major airport. From the street it looked like a great place to catch a bad attitude. Wrong! During three days of conducting a training class there, the entire staff could not have been any more professional or responsive. What a nice surprise!

I was then off to the Raphael Hotel in Kansas City for a WFCA Board of Directors meeting. Located in an upscale midtown area, this hotel dates to 1922. From the street, it looks like a likely place to experience the dreaded “nose up in the air, overpriced-itis” attitude. Wrong again! The staff could not have been any more friendly or accommodating. When I checked out I was almost giddy having been exposed to two great travel experiences in the same week. Very rare indeed!

The lesson here is that great facilities don’t make a great experience – great people do. If you ask me next week what the color scheme in either guest room was, I likely won’t remember. Ask me five years from now about my experiences at either property and I will tell you how satisfying each was.

Attitudes are indeed contagious. What attitudes are your customers being exposed to?

Tom Jennings

Tuesday, September 20, 2011