On Tuesday, we addressed the word “hospitality”, what it means in the dictionary and in the Bible. Serving one another is a duty for all of us, no matter where we are. When it comes to off-site events, this is extremely pertinent. Whether you are the planner, volunteer, or church leadership, your level of hospitality is going to be one of the biggest deciding factors on event success. We call the practice of hospitality “guest service.” And if your team isn’t prepared to treat guests properly, there is a good chance those people won’t be returning. But don’t just try to meet the expectations, exceed them. Here’s how. Or rather, here’s how not to not do so.
1. Never let a guest struggle
Coming to a new place is confusing. Where do I go? Who do I ask? Do I have everything I need? As a team member, what you can do is give guidance and offer assistance. Better yet, take them where they need to go and show them what they need to do. While some people are good at hiding their confusion, many are not, yet they are also not quick to ask for help. Giving them the confidence that there is staff around that is willing to aid will go a long way.
“Don’t be interested only in your own life, but care about the lives of others too.” Philippians 2:4
2. Never make a guest wait
There will be lines. There will be crowds. But if a guest needs assistance, help them as soon as possible. For the planner, that means ensuring there is enough staff available to make things run smoothly. For the staff, it means being alert and attentive to the job at hand, staying off the phone and reducing chat time in order to be available.
“Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, when it is in your power to act.” Proverbs 3:27
3. Never complain or be defensive to a guest
We all have bad days. And on those days, it can be really easy to take out our frustrations on others. Speak positively to guests. Your job is to help them have a good experience in encountering and connecting with God. That can be hard for guests to do when the staff create a negative environment. One thing to remember is that guests don’t know the retreat details like you do, meaning they will have questions that may seem obvious to you. Put yourself in their shoes and imagine how you would feel if a staff member spoke to you the way you are doing to them.
“Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling.” 1 Peter 4:9
4. Never tell a guest “no”, “I don’t know”, or “we can’t”
Take the kinder approach with phrases (and actions) like “I’ll check” or “We will try”. If you are unsure of an answer, it is important to let them know you are looking into it. No one likes being blown off. Attempt to find a solution, and if none exist, an alternative. For example, if a guest asks to use the pool when it is evidently closed, do not simply tell him no and hope that he goes on his merry way. Give him a reason as to why the pool is not available for use at the present time and offer an alternative solution by suggesting that the gymnasium is open for him to play a variety of games with his group.
“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Philippians 4:13
5. Never be content with only meeting a guest’s expectations – EXCEED THEM!!!
If no one got hurt and everyone left happy, then you have successfully pulled off an event. Well done! But if God presents you with an opportunity, even if it shakes up your event/schedule, don’t be afraid to embrace it. Maybe you are hosting a youth camp and one of the guests is filled with the Holy Spirit and asks to be baptized. Anywhere that you can increase the experience of a guest, do it. After all, the point of most ministry events is to enhance Godly relationships.
“Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us,” Ephesians 3:20
Happy guests will return. They may forget the games they played or the songs sung during worship, but they will Never forget a person who changed their event experience for the better.