Last Saturday, following an exchange of emails Danny Meyer came up especially to Galvin at Windows with his young son in tow to meet me and say hello.
Unfortunately my own son Lucien was recovering at home from a small operation. I was therefore not up there to greet him. The visit was not planned and so I felt touched by his thoughtfulness and kindness.
On Monday I was at the Masters Innholders General Managers Conference at the London Hilton on Park Lane to hear him speak about “The transforming powers of hospitality”.
I did manage to meet him before the conference outside the hotel. I waited for him patiently which made me feel like a groupie for the first time in my life.
Danny’s message is so simple and straight forward. He talked about following our passion, enjoying life and what we do. Like many of us he thinks that people don’t want to join our industry because they confuse service with servitude and don’t want to be anyone’s slave.
I particularly like the bit where he talked about creativity and innovation. Before the internet, “in the old days” he said one could be great simply by having great ideas and executing them.
Not anymore. Ideas get copied and everyone copies everyone. The shelf life of creativity is
just five seconds.
Therefore he continued, “What I am looking for, what I want for my restaurants is a guest to say- This is my favourite restaurant”.
But how do you become someone’s favourite restaurant?
- Through performance ie the technical and mechanical aspect of service (the 49%)
- Through service ie hospitality (the 51%)
People do not come to restaurants anymore because they are hungry or thirsty but because of the need to share a human and social experience.
Danny’s view is that he can train and teach people what the 49% is about. However the 51% is much more difficult (if not impossible) to teach.
Danny calls it the HQ (Hospitality Quotient). Because HQ can’t be taught so easily, it is important to hire people who have it already.
Basically people with a high HQ are people who like people. People who like to do things for others, people who like to make other people feel good.
Danny listed six emotional skills which form part of the Hospitality DNA:
- High work ethics
- Self awareness
Then he briefly mentioned reputation and the inevitable legacy we all leave behind. We are all responsible for what we do and it is today that tomorrow is made. Think!
He carried on gently getting his message across by comparing service (one size fits all) and hospitality (one size fits one).
His talk finished where it all started: our birth and the four hospitality gifts we all got when we were born:
- Eye contact
- Hug (the best and most beautiful metaphor for hospitality)
These four gifts are what we are seeking all our life.
There is one more thing that Danny talked about. Although it was not overtly obvious, I felt it was so important. He talked about his family, his parents, his uncle and therefore also about the obvious guidance, high values and great life foundations he got from the word go.
I too had that. That’s our luck and our real heritage. That is also our responsibility.
For we have it and need to share it with those less fortunate who don’t have it.