What My Mother Taught Me About Hospitality

Mother’s Day and Hospitality - Remember What It’s all About

No one brings hospitality to life like my mother, so I thought today would be a good time to think about what it feels like to be in the presence of true hospitality. 

Mom teaches so much about about graciousness, welcoming others and making sure that guests feel at home, cared for and delighted. 


She creates parties with purpose and sets a beautiful table. But it's so much more than that.

My mother sincerely cares about how others feel, and she lives this with an authenticity that is beautiful to watch.

Now, I grew up in the South, so being welcoming is what we do. But a few years ago, I lived in Manhattan and Mom and Dad would visit quite often. It was fascinating.

Granted, the three of us didn’t do the subway much (that’s one of the greatest things about having guests in New York - you take cabs with your visitors); but one day they wanted to “experience the subway.” So, we are on the 6, which goes up and down Lexington. And, my mother is actually having a conversation with someone. On the subway.

At Top of the Rock she is on a bench with her new best friend.

In one of New York’s most exclusive Upper East Side hotels, she completely charmed the maitre d’ and had him bringing out all sorts of surprises for her. Hmmmmmm. How did this happen?

Mothers Day Lessons

Well, not only does she have a high EQ (emotional intelligence), but she simply respects others and their time.  If someone is giving her their time, she treasures it like a gift. If someone is going to spend time in her home, she feels honored that they would choose to spend that time with her, and treats that gift with respect and gratitude. 

When others give us their time, or their money, what is our responsibility?

When someone gives us their time or their money, when they book a room at our hotel, when they buy the perfect dress in our shop, it probably means they have a level of trust.

They trust that the the hotel will keep them safe, that the party will be fun, that the workshop will teach them something they can use. They believe that we will provide what they need.

How do we make sure we do that?


Oh, there are so, so many ways, most of which take a bit of human compassion. No time for that in your business? Hmmmmmm. If that is the case, I wonder what type of business it is. Here’s another post about the importance of thoughtfulness in your business. Let's just hope that if you are reading this, that is not the case and perhaps start with these three things:

  1. Care about your guest. Truly care about your guests. If you do not really care about them and instead just care about what they spend, then you will never really embody this heart of hospitality. And if this is the case, you are conducting a transaction, not creating an experience.

  2. Be interested in your customer. What does your customer value? Is that what you are giving? If what you sell or do doesn't match up with what he cares about and values, is this really your customer? Figure out what they value.

  3. Ask yourself how you want them to feel. Safe? Pampered? Relaxed? In control? Think through all the touchpoints. How would you feel if you were the customer? The ability to become your customer is often the simplest and easiest way to shift.

If you are a business or simply live your life where hospitality is a core value, then you are fortunate. This is an industry and a lifestyle with a two-way street of both serving and receiving. Each day is filled with opportunities to affect the way others feel, change their day, help them feel noticed and cared for.

Aren’t we lucky?

Happy Mother's Day, Mom. Thank you for all of the special gifts that you have given me, your family, your students and the world. Here's to all of us passing them on.