5 TED talks all Hospitality Students should watch

EHL Editorial Team | 17 Oct, 2016

Hospitality students can learn a lot from watching some of the industry's thought leaders deliver TED talks on what motivates, inspires, and drives them to succeed.

By digesting the cutting-edge issues and insights, students can learn practical and elegant solutions to common on-the-job issues and gain a better understanding of how good hospitality service positively affects others. 

Hospitality students enter the profession with the best of intentions - wanting to offer high-quality services to guests no matter their role. Yet on the job, students will inevitably observe that some hotel coworkers go above and beyond for guests while others underperform their roles. Some staff seem engaged and excited at work; others seem to be merely punching a clock - actively disinterested at work. 

In her TED talk, Jan M. Smith, Founder and President of service industry HR firm Inland Management Group, focuses on the "culture of care" that good service organizations inevitably create, why care matters, and the positive benefits to service workers and guests alike from developing a "culture of care" in the workplace. If you want to have a career, life, and job you love with a hospitality employer, you'll find this talk motivating. 

Thomas Keller may be a celebrity chef who owns eight restaurants and two bakeries across the U.S., but his talk at TEDxEast is of interest to all service industry professionals. In this 25-minute talk, Keller breaks down the relationship between the restaurant experience and what it's about - connectivity and relationships. While Keller delves into his relationships with ethical food providers around the U.S., he also discusses skill building, training, and drive to succeed. 

Hospitality students will come away from Keller's talk with ideas on how to make the guest experience a memorable one through each interaction, and how they can be the agents of their own success in the service industry. 

Hospitality is a global industry that attracts students from all over the globe. What's often left out of the classroom is the cultural concept of hospitality and how it differs across the globe. David Bequette, who is the CFO of FruitsMax, delves into the ways that Western and Eastern countries view the concept of customer service differently, and how this impacts hospitality and service. 

No matter where you call home, this talk will provide insight into different cultures' concepts of customer service and hospitality. From a practical standpoint, this is eye-opening for hospitality students who work in foreign countries and who greet guests from other cultures. 

Swedish hospitality industry leader Jan Gunnarsson believes that hospitality is about giving. While this talk focuses on customer service in the healthcare field, Gunnarsson's definitions of what it means to provide hospitality is inspiring and refreshing. 

Gunnarsson believes that every customer is an extension of the hospitality staff who greet them. When a guest asks you a question, they have chosen you over any of your colleagues. In this moment, Gunnarsson believes you are an important figure in their life. You can help them with a problem or give them the answer they seek. This short talk makes a powerful point about the roles of front-facing hospitality staff and how the simplest interaction can make a difference for the guest. 

Public radio host Celeste Headlee has conversations for a living. She shares her 10 tips on how to have a better conversation in an insightful TED talk that can enrich hospitality students' lives at home and on the job. Celeste explains reasons why conversations break down and reminds the audience what it feels like to have a real, meaningful conversation. When you take Celeste's advice, you can not only help customers feel more welcome at your hotel, you can get much more satisfaction out of every interaction and be happier at your job. 

TED talks are great to watch or listen to on the go, and they're short enough that you can get an actionable tip from each talk. Do you have favorite TED talks on hospitality, culture, and customer service? Share them with us.

Ps. Did you know that EHL students organize their very own TEDx event each year? Watch some of the past years' inspiring speakers here.

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