If there is one thing that all hotels have in common, it is that we all provide access to sleep. Often, we provide access to sleep to guests who are exhausted from long days of work or travel. By the time they make it to the lobby, they can barely wait to get the keys to their room. There is one thing standing in their way, however, and that is checking in. In the era of the digital key, why do we still have this process? Does it really add value, or is it purely a historical artifact?
Call me old fashioned, but I am a still a believer in the traditional check-in. Even though it seems like an unnecessary step, it does have the unique ability to emotionally reassure guests, time and time again.
Realizing the power of a check-in starts with viewing it less as a routine and more as a ritual, a ritual of care that grants us permission to release the worries of the day. Suddenly, presenting your identification and payment to the desk becomes less of an obligation and more of an opportunity to commit to this process of releasing. When we list the amenities of the property, perhaps you realize that they truly are there for you to help you relax and unwind. When it comes to learning of recommendations for dinner, you may regain a sense of adventure on your travel journey. Through these subtle acts of noticing, you shift your attention away from hospitality as a business and more towards your own, personal experience of relaxation and restoration. Instead of renting a room, you have purchased access to a window of time where the entire focus is on you and your journey to tomorrow.
To emulate the feeling of a hotel check-in at home, first we must realize that we are our own purveyors of emotional security and physical comfort. Although others can certainly help, the skills of releasing worry and focusing on relaxation are ones we must ultimately learn for ourselves. Perhaps, adopting the metaphor of hospitality as a journey will be useful for practicing these skills. Before bed, practice setting the stage for tomorrow at home. Giving your attention only to those things that bring you a sense of comfort and security, imagine what kind of stories you will tell about tomorrow before you have lived it.
The journey to tomorrow looks slightly different for everyone. At the end of the day, however, this journey celebrates personal confidence and the will to be hospitable. As an ethos, hospitality challenges us to care for the mystery of tomorrow on all levels of our being: physical, emotional, mental and spiritual. There is a reason why people say hospitality is the Swiss army knife of careers, because it prepares you for virtually anything. Before bed, claim your inner Swiss army knife and confidently sign up for tomorrow. By committing to the unknown, you have taken yet another step on your journey.