Celebrating the Heroes Among Us

By: Katie Devany, M.S. 

The hospitality industry is seemingly synonymous with grandeur and excitement. After all, what other industry provides the opportunity to work in gorgeous hotels, chic restaurants, plan extravagant weddings, and even travel the world? It sounds simply divine, doesn’t it? To those who adore this unique niche of work, it is divine. It offers a remarkable combination of pride, compassion, empathy, and humbleness known to only those who embark on the daily journey of serving strangers. However, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that feelings of defeat, frustration, exasperation, and disappointment are also common. The truth is the hospitality industry is hard. Long hours, odd shifts, holidays, nights, weekends and a business that never closes presents challenges that are infinite and tests the patience of the most composed individual. Guests of our establishments are not always cordial, maintenance issues arise at the most inconvenient moments, and yet our smile stays on.

It takes a special person to join the ranks of the hospitality industry, and an even more extraordinary individual to become a hospitality hero. I was recently asked to be a judge for the annual St. Louis Convention & Visitors Commission (CVC) Hospitality Heroes program. Managers of hospitality organizations in the metro area are encouraged to nominate an employee who went above and beyond to create a “WOW” moment for the guest. Nominations poured in, and I found myself sitting cross-legged on the floor nearly moved to tears reading over 100 inspiring stories. Those employees who truly made a difference are distinguished as super heroes and recognized during the CVC’s Annual Meeting in late September. The judging committee selects only 9 employees from over 100 nominations to receive the distinguished designation of Hospitality Super Hero. Each story is recounted through a short video describing the events leading up to the “WOW” moment. The experience leaves you feeling exhilarated, extraordinarily happy, and completely humbled.

I encourage all of us, regardless of industry, to take a moment and reflect on our team members’ accomplishments. Celebrate those moments that create a “WOW” factor; they are few and far between. Heroes are among us and deserved to be recognized. I am grateful to be part of such a positive and rewarding experience where our industry leaders, regardless of position, are treated just as they have treated countless others – like rock stars.

If you are interested in learning more about hospitality education please visit http://www.slu.edu/x11298.xml for more information or contact Katie Devany (devanyk@slu.edu).

For more information on nominating a deserving employee for the Hospitality Heroes program, or to view the 2013 Super Heroes visit:  http://explorestlouis.com/st-louis-cvc/membership/hospitality-heroes/

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