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Who Is Your Chief Hospitality Officer?

by Jonathan Jones

Think about the first impression your business makes. Who represents you?

Scandinavian Airlines’ CEO, Jan Carlzon, turned around the troubled airline in the 1980s by going from a top-down structure to a company that empowered employees, expecting them to treat customers hospitably.   

Problems were solved on the spot, as soon as they arose. No front-line employee had to wait for a supervisor’s permission. Carlzon said, “We have 50,000 moments of truth every day.” Each of those moments of truth is an interaction with a customer. He turned a “transportation” company with an atrocious on-time record to a “hospitality” company and one of the best-run airlines in the industry.

The image of your company is in the hands of your employees. They are the ones who face your customers. To whom do you delegate your first impression? Some companies have designated the receptionist as the “chief hospitality officer.” That person can be the most significant first impression for anyone walking into or calling your office. That same person can set the tone for all the employees entering into your office.

A happy person greeting others can start the process of creating a happy culture. Remember, anyone who talks with the customer represents your company and impacts your image.

Managers, however, have the greatest share of responsibility to support and spread a culture of positivity and hospitality. An employee will often model the behavior of his or her manager. In addition, if an employee is not treated well, he or she is more likely to treat customers similarly.

Have you assigned anyone the role of “chief hospitality officer”?  Who would you choose for such a role? How would it impact you employees … and your customers?

Jonathan Jones ( or 314-608-0783) is a CEO peer group chair/coach for Vistage International.

Submitted 6 years 207 days ago
Categories: categoryCulturecentric Leadership
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