Spiritual Hospitality-Atithi Devo Bhava

“Most times you need more than 5 star service”

How do you choose a hotel to stay  ? Do you want a ‘home away from home’, a clean place, posh ambiance or crisp service, or all and some MORE ? Every hotel in today’s  competitive world worth its buck provides that. How can a hotel be different and how can it leave an impression on the guest – a real WOW experience  MUCH MORE experience !

Most of the large branded hotels have perfected the Science of Service. They have guest service programs like the ‘Spirit to Serve’ program in the Marriott, ‘Yes I Can’ guest service program in the Radisson Hotels, ‘Ladies & Gentlemen serving Ladies & Gentlemen’ service philosophy in the Ritz Carlton Hotels etc . These programs are SOP driven , step by step programs which advocate 5 steps of service or 7 techniques or 10 principles or some other way of making the whole guest satisfaction concept a ‘by the book’ driven exercise. This ‘by method’  influence most of the hospitality industry today. What will open the doors to levels of guest experience much higher than 5-star service ? What is that which is un-clonable, differentiated from competition and which will leave a lasting impression on a guest experience to take back lifetime memories? As a successful 5 star hotel we have high degree of efficiency in guest satisfaction but we want to go to the next level.

The answer is to provide guests a heart-warming, loving and caring spirit that makes the guests wish that time would stand still; not because of the material splendor, which anyone with money can create, but because of the love, care, warmth, and compassion that the staff exudes, particularly through their attitude , through their eyes and body language and through their verbal communication. Unfortunately, this cannot be created through an efficient, correct and friendly service formula.  We need to look at the hotel not as an extension of the outside world but as an “oasis of peace” the guests enter after a hard day’s  work . This can not only be created with the ambiance but with the people who are the heart of  the hotel with a heart-warming spirit of love, compassion, warmth, care, and empathy. To create this spirit you have to do things differently.

We must teach our teams to love themselves first. This is not as simple or as silly as it sounds. How many hotels who want their associates to show love to the guests teach them how to love themselves first? It is pointless simply telling the team, “You must love yourself first.” That achieves little or nothing. We have to teach them to look within . We should teach them easy 3-minute meditations that will touch their heart and develop the feeling of love for oneself. This will start to change the thought -energy and vibrations that they send out. There is nothing strange about this and happens to all but we dont know it if we are not aware. You would have gone into a room of strangers  and felt positive or negative about the certain people without knowing why immediately . We sometimes feel that the other person is not ‘vibing’ with us. This is because , thoughts are simply vibrating energy, in fact the whole body is made of energy and one can influence the body’s energy field to create a loving guest experience. But it has to start from the top management belief and that means we should have love, compassion and care as part of our mission statement and then use these concepts in the service design .

How do we do this?

  •  To take this forward we should employ the right kind of music, stories, incidents and combinations of these with certain 5-minute meditations to reach the hearts of the employees so that they want to show more love, care, warmth, empathy, and compassion to the guests. This is not new to Indian hospitality. The basic tenets of Athitho Devo Bhava originates from this.
  • We can also create in employees a feeling of being happy by the practice of  showing gratitude with emotion in a certain ways. It helps their positive emotional state and will increase the desire to make people happy. We can have them spend 3-5 minutes doing this in a daily departmental briefings before going out to serve the guests.
  • Employees often carry emotional baggage with them from home to work. We need to remove these negative energies in the briefing sessions as worries and stress will not help the employee create a wonderful guest experience. There are simple 2 -3 minute meditations to stop negative thoughts.
  • Another essential element is to change all the SOP manuals so that they are aligned with the guest experience at the level of Spiritual Hospitality. Every step in each skill should include at least one of the core values that underpin the new vision .
  •   Example: “Address the guest in a heart-warming and caring tone with a warm smile and warm eye-contact that say, “I’m so pleased to see you.” Soften your voice to make it sound warmer and let the person hear in the tone of your voice that you care from the heart. The guest will feel your warmth and respond to it. Your attitude and manner should be welcoming as this will make the guest feel happy.”
  • Teach and take sessions for employees on law of attraction from Rhonda Bryne’s “Secret”. “ask, believe, receive” — is the essence of the Law of Attraction.
  • Make the employees perform the SOP’s at100%  efficiency but add the spice of the ‘serve love’ program
  • Empathy is an important quality to develop in the employees because the guest’s experience will require employees to be able to read and understand the guests intuitively, and to show that they are in-tune with them
  • Developing the intuition of the employees supports the development of empathy, and is a very important part of service at the level of creating truly memorable experiences and beyond because it increases the employee’s feeling about the guests, and enables them to know what they should do to make each guest happy.
  • Another element to add to this service is ‘mystery’ or ‘magic’ where guest should feel that the employees are reading their minds and know what they like and want. This can be developed with the development of intuition.

To summarize, we can change the guest experience by the way we develop the spiritual values and elements of the guest experience in hotels. There is some work being done on this by Peter Macalpine in Thailand and in the Western World  but we are in a better position to embrace this as Indians as we are taught spirituality and values from young and understand the nuances of Dharma and Karma.

2 thoughts on “Spiritual Hospitality-Atithi Devo Bhava”

  1. YES.Guest is God.But all the points taken here are related to Material Life.It is very simple to understand that spiritual & materialistic life patterns are in exactly opposite direction to each other.I can clearly understand the two objective of this article.The first one is to get the best out of the work force,YES,-we can do it with the psychological training of working minds by the various techniques of meditation as well as individual preference of religious beliefs ! The second one is to get maximum output from visiting guests,YES,- We can get that too with special programs to get them engaged for a longer period and that we can do with adopting unique discipline !! If you find any interest in the subject,we can discuss at length any time at preferred place.Regards.


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