Webster’s definition of hospitality goes like this:"Hospitable reception, treatment, or inclination."  Ok – so let’s go now to hospitable:

"Treating guests with warmth and generosity; not narrow-minded; receptive"

Saratoga’s claim to fame is Health, History, Horses and HOSPITALITY!  So when you’re well known for always saying "yes" how do you deal with having to tell clients "no"?

First, we try very hard not to use the word no in our office.  Seem impossible?  Not really if you put your thinking caps on and get creative.

I’ve attended several workshops by ''The Telephone Doctor'' Nancy Friedman, who presents a phenomenal seminar and is a recognized expert in customer service.  She maintains you can tell someone’s mood from the moment the phone is answered.

She’s right!  At the SCTB we strive to answer the phone personally, in a timely manner, and always in a friendly, welcoming voice.  We’re polite and we make every effort to make you feel like your call is welcome every time.  If we don’t have an answer for our clients, we try to find one.  If ultimately the answer is “no” we strive not to say it quite that way.

Let’s face it – what is one of the first words we learn as children – ''mama, dada and NO''!  So we are going to try a little exercise that helps us block out that word and by doing that – we are striving for what we want all our customers to have – ''The Ultimate Saratoga Experience''

Let’s say that someone calls and asks for the impossible (nothing is impossible but sometimes unreachable).  Our answer could be:  “That’s a great question” or ''I wish I could'' or ''I’m really not quite sure about that one – let me get back to you.''  By doing this, we aren’t shutting the door, we aren’t giving false hope and most of all, we aren’t turning away potential business for our city.  AND, if we’re perky, nice and friendly on the phone (they say you should be able to feel someone’s smile through the phone) we haven’t made that person feel unwelcome.

As we welcome conventions and visitors to our beautiful city, let’s stop and think for a moment before we shut someone down with ''no''.  Instead, let’s look them in the eye – or speak into the phone -- with a smile on our face and a welcome tone in our voice.  We all benefit by using this positive approach.   A better attitude makes a better day.

Kathy Denkenberger, Convention Services Director