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Hospitality - The Language of Hospitality

Wednesday, May 04, 2016

There are many indicators that a community is transitioning to a hospitality-centered philosophy. We talked about the physical plant and service delivery culture already. Today, we’re going to focus on language used by staff. In order to move toward the hospitality model, not only should a community eradicate the language of the medical model, even the phrasing of answers to frequently asked questions should morph into customer-centered jargon.

Thumbs Up - Thumbs DownThe Turn of a Phrase Can Turn Them Away

First, let’s tackle transitioning away from the language of the medical model, a transition which many communities have already embraced in order to welcome and engage residents.

Use This

Not That

Leisure Programs or Life Enrichment Activities
Lifestyle Coordinator Activities Director
Lifelong Learning Educational Program
Residency, Application Patients are admitted to a hospital when they are sick. We welcome people into our community.
Memory Support or Special Care; better yet, give it a name Alzheimer's or Dementia unit
Creative Arts Studio, Art Studio, Creative Arts Arts & Crafts
Enhanced Living/Catered Living; give it a name, not just Assisted Living Assisted Living
Residence Apartment, cottage, villa, etc.
Visit, pop by, get together Tour or appointment
Accommodation, residence Bed, room
Professional Fee Commission
Agreement Contract
Investment, total investment Cost, price, total costs
Initial investment, deposit/deposit to hold the home you really want Down payment
Community, village, campus, development Facility
Dining Services, Culinary Services Food Services
Sales Counselor Sales Person
Connect or reach out "Get up with"
Area of concern Objection, obstacle
Resident Patient
Challenge or concern Problem
Life Plan Community Continuing Care Community
Health Care/Health Center Skilled Nursing Center

Improvement GearsMinding Our Ps & Qs

Now that we’ve discussed how the terminology should change, let’s focus on adjusting the phrasing used when speaking to guests or answering questions. Once again, I ask you to recall your best experience in a hotel, resort, or spa. Instead of asking, “Can I help you?” at the front desk, the receptionist might say, “Welcome to Lakefront Village, how might I be of assistance to you?” When a guests thanks you for assistance, rather than saying, “No problem,” substitute the phrase with, “It was my pleasure” or “You are most welcome.”When asked for something that your community offers, but you are unable to provide, say, “Let me find someone who can be of assistance with ____“ or “Let me find someone to assist you.”Whenever possible, answer the request yourself or directly convey the request to the appropriate person.

We are a service-intensive industry and, inevitably, there will be foul-ups. However, customer service recovery is central to preserving a customer-centered perception. Be sure to listen to the complaint without interrupting. Resist the temptation to become defensive. Also refrain from “airing dirty laundry” by placing blame on a specific department. Instead, calmly say, “I am sorry for the inconvenience, let me see what we can do to work things out now.”A few words of empathy and a listening ear can go a long way toward calming spirits.

Wrapping up our Series, Let’s Recap

In moving toward a hospitality model, the following factors should be considered:

  • physical plant
  • service delivery culture 
  • language that pervades the community

Learning from hotels, resorts, cruise ships, and other service industries, our buildings, room configurations, programming and the way we speak should exude the spirit of experience and engagement.

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