KEY WEST – What’s in a name, or rather, a name tag?
Well, at the very least, a smile…but possibly much more, based on my own experience at a Hyatt hotel last week in this laid-back Florida town and a Facebook post about name tags that sparked 16 lively comments!
When I mentioned my thoughts to my Facebook friends, I was surprised by the conversation that ensued. This is a hard-core, opinionated group of travelers and industry insiders — so I didn’t think “name tags” would be all that interesting, to be honest – but, boy, was I wrong! (Now I wonder my more hotels don’t play up name tag information in this age where every chain wants to be “authentic.”)
So, here’s what prompted the conversation:
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My business partner and I were having dinner at the Hyatt Key West’s Shor restaurant last week. We had a primo outdoor table on the porch (who wants to sit indoors?) for the 8 pm-ish sunset. Our table overlooked the marina, a tiny beach area and the water.
Our server was super helpful when it came to menu and wine suggestions, and she didn’t seem to mind the extremely intense heat of the pre-sunset sun. (As a former waitress on Martha’s Vineyard, I could relate!) I don’t always look at staff name tags, but I liked her and so I looked. Her name: Anna. Where was she from? Poland, I learned.
The name tag information quickly led to a deeper conversation about life and living in different places. And, since our children’s fencing coach at Capital Fencing Academy and some of our friends are also from Poland, talk also turned to Poland – right there on the porch in Key West! Apparently, I’m not alone in loving this type of experience.
“Just chatted someone up today in San Antonio because her name tag said Easton, Md., on the Eastern Shore of Maryland, not terribly far from where I live,” wrote traveler and marketer Tania Hernandez-Andersen wrote. “(This) highlights the diversity of the travel industry and helps you make a personal connection with someone.”
Traveler Barbara D’Anna said she, too, has had discussions with servers who have their names and places of origin while at the Ko Olina Marriott in Kapolei, HI.
Traveler Jane Fowler said she’s had conversations with cruise ship staff – due to name tag information. “The stewards etc were all from Eastern Europe and fun to talk with,” she said.
Cruise agent Meg Ryan echoed Fowler’s cruise experience. The name tags with countries of origin let passengers “show an interest and appreciation (for) people who are often far away from home and missing their families.”
When up-and-coming hotel manager Mike Holovacs was working at Harrah’s resort and casino in Atlantic City, N.J., his name tag descriptor said “Crowd Pleaser” because he was then the group arrival coordinator.
“‘Crowd pleaser’ is a military term as well,” Holovacs told us on Facebook. ” When soldiers on the ground need air support, the bomb drop is a crowd pleaser. I was a munitions tech and the guy that built the bombs.”
It was common for people to ask him about the name tag. “Very few people knew that it was an inside joke,” he said. “The name tag was even talked about on a Philly talk radio station.”
Readers: Have you ever paid attention to a travel industry name tag? Hard Rock Hotels, for instance, show the favorite music genre of their staff.