There are two sides to hospitality that send very distinct messages.
The first side is the “Welcome”, and the message it sends a warm welcome to those we encounter. This message ranges from making sure information about our ministry is easily accessible, invitations to the women to our events, how we encounter women directly, etc. The welcome is warm and inviting, and it let’s the women know that we want them to be a part of our ministry and lives.
The second side of hospitality is the “Care”, and the message it sends is that we value and care about the women who are a part of our ministry and lives. It shows up in the little details of our events, as we follow up with the women afterwards, how we plan out our events for the year, etc. Care says that we see the women and their needs, that we value them, and that we want to ensure they enjoy our time together … so they will desire to return.
When we speak about the Hospitality Industry, we often think of hotels. Their “welcome” message is found on their website, commercials, and even how the building looks as you drive by. It makes you want to stay at their hotel over another. For parents, the hotel that has a kids playground, splash pad, or mini water park is going to win out over one that does not. Hotels know this, so their welcome actually focuses on the kids. For the couple looking for an anniversary getaway, the hotel is going to promote quiet days relaxing at the beach or poolside, spa services, and local nightlife in walking distance. They know WHO they are targeting and they make sure that the welcome message clearly speaks to those individuals.
Once you are at the hotel, hospitality moves into the care. They want to make sure that you have a good time at their location because they want you to come back, and they want you to recommend the hotel to others. Therefore, they do everything to ensure you have a great time. I remember once walking into a family hotel, on every bed was a towel that had been shaped into a zoo animal. My kids LOVED this. When I planned a women’s retreat at a hotel, several years ago, I found a gift basket with all sorts of goodies left for me as a token of appreciation. This hotel wanted to ensure they would keep our business for future events. Little details leave a lasting impression.
In fairness, when we serve so many different women (in various walks of life) it can seem like a monumental task to try to reach each person on an individual level. What I can tell you is that the women see the effort that you have gone to, and that speaks volumes. It’s not always about the actual, physical and tangible, things that you do but the heart behind it.
At a women’s retreat many years ago, we were staying on a campground in bunk beds. This was not a luxurious retreat, but more adventurous. Every night during the final activities, we went through the bunkhouse and placed a treat bag on their pillow. A hand made, decorated gift bag or box, that contained treats made by a volunteer, with a little gift tag with a verse. Did we have women who were probably on diets? Sure. Did we have women who avoided sugar for various reasons? Definitely. Did we have a few women who just didn’t like chocolate? Probably. Even when they didn’t particularly get to enjoy the item itself, they appreciated that the team was dedicated to caring for them so well. We wanted to make the event special, and the women to feel loved and cared for. That goal was met.
Take Away Point:
Hospitality doesn’t end at the welcome mat. Once you have extended the warm welcome, hospitality shifts focus on to caring for the women well.