Greetings from the American Culinary Federation National Convention in Orlando! I've been here the past 2 days enjoying some sun and some rain and a multitude of great chefs. Again, it makes me grateful to be associated with the hospitality industry and the great people who continue to make things happen both front and back of house.
I was prepping today, assisting Chef Dewey LoSasso of Miami's North One 10 restaurant, in getting ready for a food demonstration tomorrow. Sometimes, it's easy to feel jaded, events such as this require an inordinate amount of on-the-ground logistics, and that was my frame of mind as I made my way to the host hotel. It is hard work for all of us. But, what started as a standard "event management" day ended with an appreciation of what we can accomplish when we put ourselves into the mindset of service. Seems like a no brainer. We are in the hospitality industry, right? But sometimes I forget and it becomes a burden, rather than a joy.
I think what turned the tide for me was witnessing the passion and attention to detail everyone at the host hotel exhibited. The World Center Marriott is huge by anyone's standards. You'd think it easy to get lost in the shuffle. But that wasn't the case. Everyone I dealt with, from the Valet to the Concierge to the Bellman to the phenomenal kitchen staff and Banquet Chef made me feel so taken care of that, by day's end, I was simply in awe.
My normal course of writing on FOHBOH deals with social media and how it can help operators connect with patrons. And I had a great moment of clarity today, that it all boils down to serving our customers. And if social media is part of that, and we approach it with an attitude of better serving them, it works like a charm.
I know I've said you have to approach social media in context of your overall objectives. And a huge part of that is elevating the standards of service. Providing information and connections that are useful to customers, and to us. So, please do think about how social media fits into your overall communications mix - but add this element of thought. How does it help me better serve my customers? Does it help? If it's a hindrance, don't do it. But how can we know without engaging those customers and finding out how they want to be connected to your operation and how they want to receive information.
We have the ability to bring people together, facilitate time with friends and family over a great meal, and the ability to make them feel that - when they're in "my house" they'll be taken care of, in my thoughts, my actions, my communications and networking, and the overall service I provide.
Social media, in all its forms, can help facilitate those customer relationships. What it provides is engagement and two-way conversation, which ultimately helps cement loyalty.
To the chefs, operators, waitstaff, marketing people, finance managers, bartenders and dishwashers who make it happen every day, I thank you. It is an honor to be part of the foodservice industry with you.