How the Dalai Lama inspired my vision on hospitality marketing

13 December, 2018
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It all goes back to a Tuesday afternoon in October 2007, at the Mark Mandarin Oriental, New York City. The lobby area of the hotel was a bit slippery due to the nicely coloured brown, orange and green leaves from Central Park. Guests had walked them in and due to the light rain, they got stuck to the floor, which is usually a very shiny marble one. There was no time to clean the floors yet, as it was a busy afternoon. The lobby was packed when the glass doors opened once more… there he entered the lobby, the Dalai Lama himself. During this afternoon, he provided everyone present with a unique experience; an offer to be thankful for this day and any day that may follow.

Our inspiring lecturer Ms Yasemin Oruc had the privilege of personally meeting the Dalai Lama that day, which is already very inspiring in itself. However, years later, he made her realise that his approach also greatly links to hospitality marketing. Today, she is pleased to share with you how he has inspired her vision on this topic, as well as what it can mean to you personally. Please join her on her inspiring journey.

“Life is like riding a bicycle, to keep your balance you must keep moving” – Einstein. This quotation represents how I treat every day; securing some sort of balance to move forward. Additionally, remembering we have a rear-view mirror to peak backwards, but not to completely turn around to once again face what happened in the past. You must stay in the present to move forward.

I have a great interest in the present and therefore in mindfulness. Besides the fact that mindfulness has been part of my everyday life for the past 11 years, I have also identified an interesting link to hospitality marketing. I see you thinking, or actually reading…, a link between marketing, hospitality and mindfulness? Well, these are the three ingredients what I wish to call the writing journey you have just embarked on. We are currently moving more towards creating meaningful experiences for guests and consumers. I believe that we can truly deliver these in a hospitable way, by ensuring all stakeholders are in the present. In the coming period, I will take you on a journey, focusing on creating meaningful experiences in a hospitable way, while being in the present.

With this blog series, I hope to inspire you by showing you a different angle to this formula on a regular basis. Furthermore, I promise that every blog post will include a tool or activity I invite you to do, so that you can practice to be in the present yourself as well.

Although mindfulness is the start, hospitality and marketing lead the way
Even though mindfulness in itself is what inspires me every day, there is more to it. Understanding how to enjoy every moment, also allows us to be hospitable towards ourselves and each other. Marketing focuses on understanding the guests and customers we work with and how we can create a story for them. As hospitality is an important ingredient to the formula, I think it is time to properly introduce myself. Yasemin Oruc, which is how I came to this world in Amsterdam over 34 years ago. Coming from a hospitality family myself, I believe it ran through my veins from a very young age. Therefore, completing a Bachelor in Hospitality Management was expected. I lived abroad for over five years, from New York City to Istanbul and back to Amsterdam. These journeys shaped my hospitality experience in the true sense of the word. Understanding the concept of hospitality in different cultures has also truly shaped me as a person. From explaining the need for a hypo allergic pillow in Turkish, to guiding guests on a detailed route by bike from Upper West to Midtown. These are just a few of the interesting challenges I faced at the beginning. Next to my own experiences in and with hospitality, creating hospitable experiences for others is what drives me.

The second ingredient to the formula; marketing. This came to life when I was working at my father’s French restaurant during my bachelor studies. I was always looking for new ways to present and promote the menu. Furthermore, I also thought of potential new guest groups (yes, I know we call these target markets now). During my time at the restaurant, I engaged in many of these activities, next to taking orders and serving dishes. In the hospitality industry, I find many things fascinating; from serving dishes to understanding how consumers want to be served and from what jobs they are trying to get done, to how one consumer differs from the other. It also interests me what makes guests and customers decide to purchase, and even return a purchase? To give it some academic framing, I dedicated my MBA thesis to the field of consumer behaviour and branding. Here, I discovered that truly listening to consumers and placing oneself in their shoes is key. Once again, in order to listen, one has to be fully in the present, and how to do that I learned in 2007.

How the Dalai Lama connects us to the pyramid of Mindfulness, Hospitality and Marketing
Going back to that Tuesday afternoon in October 2007, where the Dalai Lama himself entered the lobby of the Mark Mandarin Oriental in New York City…He arrived, and I mean truly arrived, and stood still in the middle of the buzzing lobby. He walked up to the front desk, where I had just commenced my evening shift. I faced him, looked him in the eyes and he started to speak with a very calm tone of voice; “Miss, Can you please take all phones off the hooks?” Before I could answer, he bowed his head and said “thank you”. He then walked off to the centre of the lobby. In the meantime Richard Gere, one of his closest friends, arrived together with Sharon Stone and her daughter (as a marketer, I need to sell this story right?) However, their presence was not of importance, as  silence covered  the lobby area with the famous star in the middle.

I just took a breath and thought… wow, here I am witnessing the Dalai Lama himself, providing everyone present that afternoon a unique experience; an offer to be thankful for this day and any day that may follow. There it was, my introduction to mindfulness, understanding what it means to be in the present. That I know, as I totally forgot time and just paid attention, full focus on the seconds passing, appreciating the silence. This feeling of forgetting time and being in the present stayed with me for days. Every time my mind became busy,  I caught myself recalling this feeling. Besides this pleasant feeling, I left the topic aside for months. It crossed my path again when the time came to leave a great life in New York City. I began having thousands of thoughts and scenarios, thinking about what I was about to leave behind. This made my days pass quickly, without truly enjoying a single day. I recollected this great feeling I had during the autumn that year and gave it try to do this more often. I thought to myself “giving it a try will not hurt” and writing this 11 years later, it still does not. Just “checking in” with yourself once a day and taking some time to really be where you are at that moment in time, helps not just yourself, also your mind, body and your environment.

One line a day…
Now it is time for you to embark on this journey together with me. Here is how. As promised I will provide you with a practical ending to try out during the coming days before checking in again. Here it comes:

  • End every day with one thing that was great
  • Using one line to describe this experience
  • Log what made you list this specific experience

Remember that I will deliver you content on the three pillars of hospitality, marketing and mindfulness, together with an applied activity or tool and you secure me with your booked seat!

Safe journey for today,

Yasemin

 

 

About the author

Yasemin Oruc

Lecturer in Hospitality Marketing & Sales at Hotelschool The Hague and International Hospitality Marketing & Sales Consultant.

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