Genuine hospitality from the heart is not hard to find in Vietnam. Consistency, however, is.
As a career hospitality nomad for the last 20 years, I have witnessed more than my fair share of people’s interpretations of what the word ‘hospitality’ actually means.
Books have been written on the subject, and courses are available around the globe. Some of the best servers have never read a single page of these resources, and will never need to. Others, no matter what, will never truly ‘get it’.
That is because hospitality is the most basic, and most complicated job at the same time. In my dining room or bar, I have the power to make people happy. That is a privilege; a fact that must be understood by all of my staff, because they wield the same power.
My rules and guidelines are simple, yet remain simultaneously difficult to make a reality:
Mind your manners. Opening doors, taking coats, pulling chairs, or offering water; beverages and food are the small but important pieces of the puzzle that paint the whole picture.
Turn up the empathy and self-awareness. Emotional intelligence, the mother of empathy, is understanding and selflessness. Self awareness, cousin of empathy, allows us to float through a dining room unnoticed without disturbing its rhythm.
Focus on the guests’ needs, not your own. Leave your baggage at the door. We come second to the guests, no matter what happens. Genuine smiles. Keep emotions in check. Don’t be a robot. Genuinely care.
Take pride in your work. Your job doesn’t define you – you define your job. Taking pride is the extra ingredient that motivates us to keep pushing. It’s the building block to a great guest experience.
Finish strong. Keep the heat on till the very end. Until the door closes behind the last guest. I, as a server, give 100 percent at 11pm, as I do at 11am. “Goodbyes” are as important as “hellos”. “Thank you for choosing us!” “Thank you for coming!” Last impressions are as important as the first.
All of this paints a recipe for great service, but mistakes will happen. It’s how we adapt to these that separate the good from the best. With each guest that trusts me with their evening, I find gratitude for the lessons I get to learn every day.
Shri Restaurant and Lounge manager Richie Fawcett is an artist who sits on Asia’s 50 best bars voting panel. He is hosting invitation only ‘private viewings’ of his latest works every Thursday in the Shri Whisky Library, along with offerings of bottled and signature cocktails. Those interested can call Shri on (08) 3827 9631 and he will invite you personally if numbers allow.