Taking a Hospitality Approach to Helping Students

Erika Prosper Nirenberg is not only the First Lady of San Antonio, she’s also director of customer insights for H-E-B. She recently visited Northwest Vista College’s Student Success to have a conversation about how H-E-B switched from a customer service mentality to instead focus on hospitality.

Nirenberg also spoke at the recent National Council for Marketing & Public Relations conference in San Antonio about the hospitality approach. Ellen Davis, director of marketing and media relations at Temple College in Temple, Texas, wrote a blog article for NCMPR about Nirenberg’s hospitality approach to community colleges.

Nirenberg said that in her industry, what they ask employees to do is 49% “service” and 51% “hospitality.” “Service” is an employee’s ability to do their job from a technical standpoint, such as ringing up the groceries. “Hospitality” is the things employees do for customers that make them feel welcome at the store. This is the friendly greeting and asking if you found everything you wanted or if you need help getting your groceries to the car.

Nirenberg suggested that those of us who work at community colleges – just like those who work for H-E-B – should look at things through a “hospitality” lens instead of a “service” lens. Just like grocery shoppers, students need to feel like they belong at the college and treated like they are VIPs.”

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