The Spirituality of Hospitality

las-vegas-welcome-signA recent article on PRWeb [1] explores the way spirituality and hospitality are connected, particularly in Las Vegas. The “Sin City” is not what is normally thought of as a model for spirituality, but reviewing this exploration will help others think about spiritual dimensions within their work that are often not explored.

Dr. Anthony Gatling of the University of Nevada Las Vegas highlighted the fact a study profiling visitors to Las Vegas [2] showed that almost half (47%) of first-time visitors and almost as high of a percentage (43%) of repeat visitors come to Las Vegas for pleasure. These visitors are seeking a change from where they normally reside and work, at least for a time. They are seeking to be comforted. They are seeking to feel again the joy that is missing in their life. They are seeking needed respite to allow their minds and bodies to rest and recover. Gatling uses this to focus on those who provide these guests with hospitality.

From one perspective, those serving guests in Las Vegas are there to make money for their employers. The gambling, entertainment, hotel, and dining industries, as well as less savory industries and other supporting industries, exist with a purpose of making money for their owners and investors. However, these industries cannot focus simply on short-term profits; they desire to have visitors come back as often as possible. As a result, they are in the business of providing a good experience—of meeting that need for rest and respite.

As workers engage with the guests, they are there to meet the needs and wants of the guests. As hospitality is shown, the worker engages with the deeper dimensions of the guests. The worker meets the needs of the guest to be cared for, to be valued and appreciated, and to be respected. Thus, as the worker provides hospitality, he or she engages with the guest at a level closer to the core of the guest’s being. It provides a deeper sense of meaning and fulfillment for the worker—which can be spiritually engaging for the worker and ultimately, possibly, even for the company.

This raises the question as to how hospitality, and the spirituality associated with it, impacts people in other settings. There are several questions that could be asked to help someone identify the spiritual dimensions of hospitality in their work:

  1. In what ways do you make a positive impact in the lives of others? How does this make the world a better place?
  2. In your relationships with other people, how do you view them? Are they merely what you have to work with in order to get to the end of the day? Do you consider them as whole people who have spiritual needs and a desire to have space for fulfillment of their wants?
  3. What shapes your vision for the way you interact with other people? Do you see yourself as spiritually connected with others?
  4. What influences the philosophy and approach you have to your work? What has motivated you to do this work?
  5. When you face challenges or see someone you are working with facing a challenge, what gives you courage to proceed?
  6. When have you experienced hospitality? Where within you did that hospitality touch you? How do you try to convey that same spirit to those with whom you work?

These questions are as applicable to the person serving in a direct-line position as to the person whose work is more remote. Within therapy, exploring these dimensions has the possibility of helping to guide a person to understand both the value of his or her vocation and some of its spiritual significance. As these dimensions are explored, a new perspective may be discovered around the person’s work and thus affect other dimensions of his or her self, including the psychological.



[1] Anthony Gatling, UNLV Professor Announces, “Las Vegas is Ground Zero for Spirituality in the Workplace Research?” PRWeb. As retrieved from http://www.prweb.com/releases/2013/7/prweb10584702.htm

[2] GLS Research, Las Vegas Visitor Profile Study 2012. Las Vegas: Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority, 2012.

© Copyright 2013 GoodTherapy.org. All rights reserved. Permission to publish granted by The Rev. Christopher L. Smith, LCAC, LMHC, LMFT, therapist in New York City, New York

The preceding article was solely written by the author named above. Any views and opinions expressed are not necessarily shared by GoodTherapy.org. Questions or concerns about the preceding article can be directed to the author or posted as a comment below.

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  • Dede

    Dede

    July 24th, 2013 at 11:56 AM

    Most people in the hospitality industry, the everday man and woman that you encounter in the field, sure don’t do the work that they do for the pay! They do it because they enjoy helping people, giving back to others in a way that they can that makes them and the guests feel good. It is a reciprocal kind of relationship too, because I think that the guest and the employee get different things form the experience but for the most part they are both getting something out of it. It feels good to be able to make sure that someone has a great experience and when you can’t do that with money they feel like there are other ways to make their vacations enjoyable. Now these are workers who never get the respect that they deserve because they are the ones doing all the little things behind the scenes to make your stay more enjoyable and the best that it can be.

  • Sarah

    Sarah

    July 25th, 2013 at 4:16 AM

    Glad that you brought up las Vegas because one of my best vacations ever was in Sin City but it felt anything but sinful. We had great service everywhere we went and actually had a pretty wonderful family time all there together. Yeah there were a few questionable things that we saw, but hey, that goes with the territory. It was more than what we thought it would be or could be, and the workers that we encountered there were a big part of the reason why we will definitely go back again.

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