As you look back on some of the most memorable moments you have experienced while working in the hospitality industry, many different events may come to mind. Most of your memorable moments may have taken place at your property, but mine took place in a more unconventional location- in a hospital’s delivery room with a housekeeper named Marie.

While working as a Manager at a resort in Orlando, the morning started the same as it normally would. I drank my morning cup of coffee and prepared my assignments for the staff. When Marie walked in, I could tell she didn’t seem herself. By this point, Marie was well into her pregnancy and her husband was working out of town. I decided to personally escort her to see a doctor.

Upon arrival, the hospital staff thought I was Marie’s Creole translator. They began asking questions as I helped Marie fill out necessary paperwork. Once the hospital staff understood we worked together, they asked me to find a seat in the family waiting area. Shortly after Marie made her way to the delivery room, a nurse handed me a gown and booties and I was escorted to a seat next to Marie. At first, I was surprised I ended up in the delivery room, but I quickly reached out to hold her hand and supported her along the way. Marie then welcomed her baby girl into the world.

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I have always believed that bonds between associates extend far beyond the walls of a property. In our industry, many associates like myself have lived and worked a distance from friends and family. Having the support and sense of extended family at work was very important to me. Employee challenges became my challenges and their accomplishments were our accomplishments; we kept our eye on goals together.

I always kept an open door and scheduled one-on-one time with the associates. Although our meetings always started with a bit about work, we were excited to later catch up on family and discuss our personal lives. I was grateful to be a go-to for employees needing advice about outside challenges. Although not knowledgeable in every area, I tried my best to listen and share advice.

Through close engagement with my team, many began to look forward to swapping new recipes at our covered dish events throughout the year. I couldn’t walk in the door without bringing a double batch of corn casserole. I could still taste Van Kim’s sticky rice and Melanie’s Lumpia. Terry always sent me home with an extra plate of her amazing peanut butter cookies.

Written holiday cards always started early to get them all in with a personalized note. I still look forward to receiving cards today from former coworkers. That valuable time spent at work was as much mine, as theirs.

As we approach the Thanksgiving season, I recognize how grateful I am for many unforgettable moments and traditions and look forward to creating future memories with my teams. Now that I have shared my story, The Service Companies would love to hear yours. What memory from the hospitality industry are you most thankful for? Let us know in the comments section!

Laurie Katinos is one of the leading hospitality operations directors. Her expertise in housekeeping operations spans over 20 years, with the majority of her time spent with Hyatt Hotels Corporation and The Service Companies. Her knowledge and operations savvy has contributed to The Service Companies becoming the unrivaled provider of cleaning, staffing and managed services in the hospitality industry.