Have you found your pineapple? Anyone that truly embraces hospitality has one. You may have one and not even know it. To understand what I am attempting to convey, one must look back into history. The first account of the pineapple was given by Christopher Columbus and his men, who landed on the island now known as Guadeloupe on their second voyage of discovery. To the “Caribs”, the pineapple symbolized hospitality, and the Spaniards soon learned they were welcome if a pineapple was placed by the entrance to a village. This symbolism spread to Europe, then to Colonial North America, where it became the custom to carve the shape of a pineapple into the columns at the entrance of a plantation.* This of course, was the inspiration for the Indigo Solutions logo. So, back to my original question, have you found your pineapple?
For me, the pineapple was my pineapple. When I was the GM at the Whaler on Maui, we placed a fresh Maui pineapple in the refrigerator of each suite on the day of arrival. Going one step further, the luscious fruit was precut, but then reassembled, so that the guest didn’t have to struggle to prepare to enjoy it. This gesture was wildly popular with our guests, and became a standard which remained long after I had moved on.
Think about all of the “pineapples” you have experienced in the course of your travels. They might have been in the form of a chocolate chip cookie, presented upon arrival at a Doubletree hotel or something as simple as a cool wet washcloth upon returning to a cruise ship after a long hot day of touring. If you truly understand hospitality, you know that it takes many forms, some of which you cannot hold in your hand. It might be as simple as a sincere handshake or the hug that everyone gets when arriving at a relative’s home. The most memorable and cherished are the ones that you didn’t expect, the gesture that came out of nowhere, that was above and beyond, the one that you didn’t see coming, but it made an impression.
When my son Zachary was young, he often traveled with me on business. This generally meant staying in corporate hotels, often not so exciting for a young boy. However, one experience was a genuine exception, one that neither of us will ever forget. On one such trip, we were staying at the Westin-SFO. On the way out the front door on an outing we had a chance encounter with the Sales Manager for the hotel. She met Zachary, wished us well on our outing, and we were off. Upon our return, several hours later, Zachary found a plate of fresh, warm cookies and a cold glass of milk, on the table in our room. This was the most unforgettable, above and beyond “pineapple” ever for that six year old.
So, back to the original question, which matters not if you are in the Hospitality business. What is your pineapple?
*L. Patrick Coyle, The World Encyclopedia of Food, Facts On File, Inc., New York, NY, 1982, p. 517.