“The Stranger within our gates”

Hotel Common Sense
“The Stranger within our gates”


by John Hogan    from an earlier article

Small cheer and great welcome makes a merry feast.
William Shakespeare (1564–1616), British dramatist, poet.

Attributed to Balthazar, in The Comedy of Errors,
act 3, sc. 1, l. 26.

When one travels a great deal on business, the danger is there to overlook the small, personal touches that are often present in many hotels. Regardless of the room rate, the size of the hotel or its location, many hotels around the world provide many personalized welcoming messages.  At a time when we in the industry are concerned about the danger of our hotels becoming a commodity that is only rated or selected by price, those personal touches become even more vital to keeping our individual distinctions.

The following message was placed on a pillow on a recent trip. This laminated message really made its’ point and I hope you enjoy the message.

To Our Guests“The Stranger within our gates”

Because this hotel is a human institution to serve people, and not solely a for profit organization. We strive to ensure you will experience peace and rest while you are here.

May this room and this hotel be your “second” home. May those you love be near you in thoughts and dreams. Even though we may not get to know you, we hope that you will be conformable and happy as if you were In your own house.

May the business that brought you our way prosper. May every call you make and every message you receive add to your joy. When you leave, may your journey be safe.

We are all travelers. From “birth till death” we travel between the eternities. May these days be pleasant for you, profitable for society, helpful for those you meet, and a joy to those who know and love you best.

Think Tank

Questions of the day

These questions are offered to stimulate discussion about the way we do business.  There is not necessarily only one “correct” answer – the reason for this section of the column is to promote an awareness of how we might all improve our operations.  Consider using these or similar questions at staff meetings encourage your team to THINK!


  1. What would your guests think of this kind of message expressed at your hotel?
  2. What do you do at your hotel to make each guest feel welcome?
  3. Are there any additional suggestions you could share at your hotel or with readers of this column on how to reduce the potential of our hotels becoming commodities?

The Most Important Words for the Workplace or “A short course in human relations”

From a 2009 Column

A famous athlete was being inducted to his sports’ hall of fame earlier this year and in his remarks, he commented on the need and value for team work. He quoted the often used phrase “there is no I in team” but he added there is an I in “win”.

An online search for the author of the following short piece does not bring a definite answer – there are slight variations but the message is fundamentally the same:

The six most important words:
“I admit I make a mistake”

The 5 most important words:
“You did a good job”

The 4 most important words:
“What is your opinion?”

The 3 most important words:
“If you please”

The 2 most important words:
“Thank you!”

The 1 most important word:

The least most important word:

Tom Peters in many of his writings states “Leaders don’t create followers, they create more leaders. “

What are you doing at your hotel today?

An Unlikely Salute to Collin Raye

An Unlikely Salute to Collin Raye

Collin Raye is an American country music singer, who made his debut on the country music scene in 1991 with the release of his debut album, which included his first Number One hit in “Love, Me“. This was the first of four consecutive albums released by Raye to achieve platinum certification the United States for sales of one million copies each. He maintained several Top 10 hits throughout the rest of the decade and into 2000. Between 1991 and 2007, Raye charted thirty singles on the U.S. country charts and he also had success on the Adult Contemporary format as a duet partner. Four of Raye’s singles reached Number One on the Billboard country music charts and he has recorded eleven studio albums, a Christmas album, a compilation of lullabies, a Greatest Hits compilation, a live album, and a live CD/DVD package.

I lived in Nashville for more than 15 years and while I was aware of some of his work, I had not seen him perform. Raye was touring the US in the 2009 holiday season and was scheduled to perform at a unique venue in Phoenix, AZ, the Celebrity Theatre. Two weeks before the show, we were contacted by a ticket service announcing this show offering special pricing for mid-section seating. My bride and I have been to a number of excellent shows at this 2,000 seat, theatre in the round and we booked two seats.

When we arrived, we were pleasantly upgraded to prime seating in the first six rows, as the theatre overall was significantly less than fully booked. The performers and theatre management made the decision to upgrade almost everyone to maximize their enjoyment.

What struck me about this was the fact that we had tickets to other shows, where performers in similar situations had either cancelled their performance or verbally complained during much of the show about the poor attendance. Rather than thanking the people who did support them, they chose to deliver a less than stellar performance and left a very poor impression on those attending.

On this same tour, Collin Raye and his band performed at several concert halls and arenas that had significantly larger numbers in attendance. What we noticed that night was a different 4 Ps that can have meaning to our industry.

  1. Professionalism
    Many contracts give performers an option to cancel or reschedule a show if a certain number of tickets are not sold. Raye and the Celebrity Theatre management and ownership made the decision to show their professionalism and appreciation for those who had booked by performing, even with low numbers.
  2. Passion
    This performer has been singing some of the same songs for almost 20 years, yet he and his band shared their passion for the work as if this were their first tour.
  3. Pride
    When an entertainer takes the time to speak with and interact with the audience, their sense of connection and pride shows.
  4. Performance
    This was likely the smallest crowd on the four-week tour, but no one in the audience would ever have known. For more than two hours complete with two encore numbers, this band and entertainer gave the audience 100% of their efforts and their showmanship as if they were performing for a crowd of 15,000.

The 4 Ps of Marketing remain an important part of strategies in successful hospitality businesses today.

The 4Ps of Personal Attention, as illustrated by Collin Raye also can provide us in hospitality a lesson in “high touch.”