Stress Management, Well-being and Self-Care

Why would a restaurant in a 5-star hotel put a reserved sign on a table when it doesn’t take reservations? Attending the Art and Science of Health Promotion Conference in Colorado.

Why would a restaurant in a 5-star hotel put a reserved sign on a table when it doesn’t take reservations? Attending the Art and Science of Health Promotion Conference in Colorado.

by James Porter April 07, 2023

This was the question I put to the maître d' right after arriving at the cozy restaurant and bar at The Broadmoor Hotel in Colorado Springs Colorado. We were there for the Art and Science of Health Promotion Conference. Normally when I attend conferences, I stay at a nearby hotel, where I can usually find a much better rate than the so-called “discount conference rate” at the hotel where the conference is actually being held.

But when the conference is at the Broadmoor, I stay here because the over-the-top service, makes this place seem like it’s worth every penny. When you first pull into the entrance of the Broadmoor, a person steps out of a little gate house to welcome you. She pulls out a card with your name embossed prominently at the top and places it on the dashboard of your car. She then gives you a quick preview of what’s going to happen next.  

Studies have shown that animals experience less stress, even when getting a mild shock, if they get a warning light before it happens. In other words, animals like to know what’s going to happen next even when it’s stressful: Predictability lowers stress.

Apparently, the Broadmoor understands that it’s always a bit stressful when you first arrive at a hotel, so they address this issue right out of the gate: Typically, you don’t know where to park, where to register, or how you are going to get all your bags to the room. But when I pulled up to the covered entrance to the hotel and surrounded by a team of bellmen, I WAS ALREADY A REGISTERED GUEST AT THE HOTEL and already knew the answer to many of these questions. When a bellman opened my car door and said: “Welcome to the Broadmoor, Mr. Porter,” obviously, he had read the card on the dashboard of my car, but I was still surprised and pleased by it.

Normally I just want to carry my own bags, but I couldn’t resist the genuine charm of this team of neatly uniformed people who seemed dedicated to making my arrival as smooth as possible. When I commented on how great the service made me feel the man replied: “This is a 5-star hotel with three 5-star restaurants. Get used to it!”

Later that day, when I popped the question that headlines this blog to the maître d’, she didn’t really address it. She simply said: “It will only be a few minutes sir, and you can have that table. Just give me your cell phone number and I will text you as soon as it is ready.”

When we sat down at the table, at first, I was surprised by how long the waitress was willing to spend talking with us. She answered questions about the facilities at the hotel, things to do in the area, and where to find everything that we knew we wanted to do and even a few things that we didn’t know we wanted to do. As the evening progressed, she was in no hurry to end conversations that we initiated and she was amply helped by other wait-staff who brought us our food, piping hot, as soon as it was ready.

So, eventually, I asked her the same question I had asked the maître d’.  

“The answer is simple,” she explained, “They don’t want us to have more tables than we can comfortably handle. You can’t give five-star service to people when you are running around from table to table, rushing to get the food out.”

“The hotel knows that WE create this five-star experience, so they watch out for us. They help make it possible by making things easy for us to focus on providing it. We can’t provide that level of service when we have too many tables to cover, so that’s why they put the reserved sign on the table.”  

Every company no matter how big or how small knows the importance of delivering great customer service, but do they realize that this can sometimes means limiting the amount of work that is piled on the backs of employees?

All you have to do is look at the ever increasing levels of burnout here in the US to know that the answer to that question is usually no. Remember burnout may lead to an employee not caring about the level of service they provide but it STARTS with them caring too much! Fortunately, as I study the conference brochure I got this morning I see that there are many breakout sessions that look like they will address these very same questions. So that’s what I will write about next week.

James Porter
James Porter