It is odd to read a book about the very business you run.
But Stephen Fried wrote Appetite for America – How Visionary Businessman Fred Harvey Built a Railroad Hospitality Empire That Civilized the Wild West.
I spent time with the charming Stephen Fried in Santa Fe a year or so ago before this book was published and then again recently when he came to La Fonda for a lecture and book-signing. I recently had a chance to finish it and what a page-turner it was. Fried draws on the Harvey history but puts it in the context of events. It is an excellent overview of American history of that era (late 1800s through the mid 1900s) with an intriguing focus on branding and marketing, which Fred Harvey practiced before the concepts were even conceived. While reading, I highlighted several statements Harvey made. Over a century old, they still apply today in terms of providing top-notch service in the hospitality industry. I share a few of the Harvey gems with our senior staff at our weekly meetings.
For instance, Fred Harvey’s list of “Fundamentals” is still inspiring. We, at La Fonda, presently aspire to:
- Have a sincere interest in people.
- Like all your daily contacts with guests.
- Radiate cheer and make guest feel at ease and at home.
- Remember “Travel follows good food routes”.
- Keep well-informed and updated on the condition, origin, and season of different supplies, and the serving of same (a forerunner of the locavore mantra?)
- Be human and be yourself.
- Courtesy and a smile pay dividends.
- Real service is without discrimination.
- Preserve or create – Never destroy (precursor of the recycle/environmental movement?)
- Tact is an asset and honesty is still a virtue.
This book is available for purchase at La Fonda’s gift shop. Call 505-988-1404. I highly recommend it. It is very entertaining and I learned a lot while reading it.