Hospitality…but only to the extent required by law

Micah Solomon Keynote speech (video)

It’s well-known that hospitality is one of my favorite industries.  Of all the industries I consult for and speak to, hospitality is the one, hands down, that I recommend most often to others as a benchmark.

Having said that, I want to discuss a foible, a blind spot, that I think is indicative of where great companies can go wrong when they forget what their motivation should be.  When they limit their commitment to only what is required by law.

Take a look at hospitality brand X, one of the great, service-obsessed hotel chains of North America. (I could have picked any one of several here, all with the same blind spot.) The most gorgeous of Brand X’s U.S. properties has no lifeguard on duty. Ever. In lieu of a lifeguard, there’s an elegant ceramic-tiled sign by the pool that reads:

No lifeguard on duty.

Call 911 if there is an emergency

or someone stops breathing.

How can this be?  Well, there’s no local ordinance requiring a lifeguard in the west-coast city where the property (a $400+ per night property) is located. No ordinance, so no lifeguard.

The same company, however, has lifeguards at every hotel in the area where I grew up.  Why?  Because those municipalities require them.

Again, this is a company that prides itself on great service.  And yet, in my view, great service means more than being well-staffed for check-in, and having a knowledgeable concierge.  An unmanned pool is, per some statisticians, more dangerous than an unlocked firearms cabinet (not that either one is a good idea). Dangerous to whom? To the very guests you’ve committed to care for.

. . . . . . . .

It’s unfortunate that so many companies, in every industry, do only what’s required by law.  Company leaders need to remember to do what’s right–in every area of their operations.  Worker safety isn’t just about “keeping OSHA off our asses.” It’s about keeping our workers safe.  And caring for our customers isn’t just about appearances, it’s about addressing realities.


“Micah Solomon conveys an up-to-the minute and deeply practical take on customer service, business success, and the twin importance of people and technology.” –Steve Wozniak, Apple co-founder

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Micah Solomon • Author-Speaker-Strategist • Customer Service – Marketing – Loyalty – Leadership

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