Passion

Passion; strong and barely controllable emotion

  • a state or outburst of strong emotion
  • an intense desire or enthusiasm for something
  • a thing arousing enthusiasm

As a someone born in Hawaii and now living in New York City for the past 15 years, I often get quizzical looks and questions of validity whenever I sport anything to do with my favorite sports team, The Seattle Seahawks.  As we are about to begin another Super Bowl with the Seahawks as the NFC representatives I have been called out by some as a bandwagon fan or questioning my loyalty.  

Let me set the all of you doubters straight; I have always been a Seahawks fan.  When I say always, I am talking about the early 80’s when NFL football came into my consciousness.  At this point I was living in Alaska and with limited television offerings, we did get Seahawks games telecast.  I remember the royal blue jerseys, the cool silver helmets and pants.  I remember Zorn to Largent, then Krieg to Largent, the grandfather of the Legion of Boom, Kenny Easley and the real Curt Warner.  I remember playing football with my best friend Gary and he wanted to be Jim McMahon from the Bears while I wanted to be Steve Largent and make every catch possible.  I didn’t care they weren’t the best.  In fact, because they weren’t so good they felt more approachable, they were the underdog, they were my team.  They became my passion and I tried to know everything about them.  I could recite stats and bios from the backs of their football cards.

I was a fan.  And fans don’t waver.  I remember shaking my head in disgust as Bo Jackson ran over The Boz for a touchdown.  I remember having to cheer Kelly Stouffer and Rick Mirer.  I remember the 2-14 season.  I remember that like The Sonics, we almost lost the Seahawks.  I remember a resurgence in the 90s with Warren Moon, Cortez Kennedy and Ricky Watters.  I remember the arrival of Mike Holmgren and the emergence of Matt Hasselback and Shaun Alexander.  I remember the refs in the Detroit Super Bowl.  I remember falling down again and then slowly rising up with Pete Carroll and then reaching the promised land.

As I sit here writing this I am getting a little choked up.  And yes, after the unbelievable comeback win in this years NFC title game I teared up.  That is passion.  Everyone should be able to feel this in some area of their life.  Whether it is a football team, a baseball team, favorite band, a restaurant, a love of horticulture, whatever.  I have found what moves me to the point of tears and it started long before any Super Bowl wins.  My loyalty to this team is something has developed over time.  And although some years have been rough, my faith in this team has never faltered.  I look forward to celebrating more years of highs and riding out the lows with them.  Go Hawks!

What's Your Guest Experience Story?

Working in the service industry I am constantly looking for ways to elevate the bar on service for my guests.  I love hearing stories of outstanding guest experiences and I draw inspiration and ideas from these shared stories.  

One such experience happened to me when I was quite young.  I have never forgotten the time when I was travelling with my father, brother and sister.  This instance of amazing service has stayed with me till this day.  I don't recall all the exact details (my father could probably elaborate more), but we had been driving all night and us three kids were starving.  We drove into a city and the first place we came across was a doughnut shop.  As my father pulled the car in we came to find out they had just closed for the evening.  The proprietor, seeing that my single father had three young kids that were hungry re-opened the shop, fired up the fryer and made us a fresh batch of doughnuts.  This gentleman had been working all day and was ready to go home, yet when he saw an opportunity to help a family, he grabbed it and filled our bellies.  I am sure he knew he would never see us again as we were just passing through, yet he still made the right decision to assist the guest as best he could.

Share some of your best guest service experiences.  I would love to hear them and I'm certain others would as well.

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Where do we go eat?

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When you are looking for a place to eat what do you do?  Do you Google "best restaurants", grab a red book guide, use Urbanspoon, Yelp!, or some other social media?  Because of what I do, another option for my friends and those that might be travelling is to "ask a concierge."  Living in New York City affords me so many options for dining that I can't even imagine how overwhelmed someone from outside NYC may be when it comes to making a decision.  My best advice is to trust your concierge and if you ask them the right questions, you will be happy with the results and may experience something that you may have never considered otherwise.  

When faced with the aforementioned decision the options usually fall to the following:

The famous Red book(s) - While both of these publications (the New York based one and the International French Company owned one) are great resources for addresses and prices, I personally do not put a lot of stock into the reviews.   These reviews may or may not be corrupted; there has been reports and allegations of inflated scores and scripted remarks for both books.

Multiple online search options - I'm talking Google, Yelp!, Urbanspoon and every other guide that offers to give suggestions based on a number of factors such as neighborhood, cuisine preference and party size.  While these can provide some great suggestions and insight, it is your personal time that you will be spending poring over the numerous results that are spit out.  These often include reviews from diners that can be very helpful or unhelpful.  Sometimes there is no way to recognize if one of these reviews is a shill or someone on a verbal take down with a vendetta against a restaurant employee.

The better option in my opinion is to speak to a concierge.  What defines a good concierge apart from these other options is personal interaction.  In my opinion, when it comes to stellar service the importance of this interaction can not be duplicated by a book or search engine.  The ability to speak with a guest, probe and find out just what they are looking for, whether they know it or not is an integral skill for any concierge.  And the best way for a guest to get the best results is to give the concierge as much information while at the same time being specific on their wants and desires.  I will try to glean as much knowledge about the guest that I can and then share my suggestions on what they may enjoy while at the same time sharing personal experiences with them that they may also get to experience.  It is a great feeling and a basic social interaction when two people can reminisce about a memorable dish or a specific bottle of wine.  A concierge will also be on up to date on the latest openings and closings and will sometimes have a relationship already established with the restaurant.  Many restaurants will take extra special care of my guests by sending a complimentary drink, appetizer or dessert.  This is all the more reason to have your concierge make a reservation for you.  

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So the next time you get hungry and are faced with the task of deciding where or what to eat, have a chat with your concierge.   The benefit may not only be that you fulfill your hunger for food but also for knowledge.  

Notes:

  1. John Mariani, Why it's so hard to trust the Michelin standards Esquire October 2012
  2. A. A. Gill, What's Wrong with the Michelin Guide Vanity Fair November 2012
  3. Josh Ozersky, Is Yelp really for morons?  Time December 2012

Foursquare, I'm done with you

As I am sure you have heard Foursquare has changed to a new model.  Once the darling of the digital check in, Foursquare has decided to create a completely new app for check ins and keep Foursquare only for reference.  The new check in app, Swarm, has been less than well received.  The question is why change everything when you have created a industry standard app?  It is still a bit confusing to me why they have decided to do this.  I suppose smarter people than me have their reasons.  However, I have decided I am not going to move to Swarm and I am going to transfer my Lists to Evernote.  The Lists feature on Foursquare was my favorite thing about the app.  Basically a book marker for places I wanted to go too. 

I would be interested in others feedback regarding this and what, if anything you will do.  I find this article by Peter Shankman here interesting.  It gives more insight to dropping Foursquare.