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Positivity is Contagious

I believe in the power of positivity and optimism. Not naïve, hope that everything turns out okay and close my eyes, positivity. But understanding that you have a choice each day as a leader to make things easy or hard for your team and your customers.

Perhaps it is the Ghost of Christmas in July lingering, but I’m reminded of Scrooge’s quote in Dicken’s “A Christmas Carol” when he was talking about his old boss Fezziwig:

“He has the power to render us happy or unhappy; to make our service light or burdensome; a pleasure or a toil. Say that his power lies in words and looks; in things so slight and insignificant that it is impossible to add and count ’em up: what then? The happiness he gives, is quite as great as if it cost a fortune.”

As I travel around the country and coach leaders to optimize their personal development and team performance, mindset always plays a role.

Certainly, we talk about executive presence, creating relationships, and driving accountability, but it all begins with understanding what success looks like. And that begins with a positive approach and mindset.

The Ripple Effect of Positivity

Positivity is infectious. When you encounter a genuinely positive and warm moment, it creates a ripple effect that extends far beyond that specific moment. In the hospitality, this translates into guests who not only enjoy their stay but also become ambassadors for your brand. They share their positive experiences with friends, family, and on social media, scaling that goodwill.

Think about it: have you ever had an experience where the kindness of a hotel staff member or the cheerful demeanor of a restaurant server made your day? As someone who travels extensively, those small moments at 3 a.m. after along day of travel truly mean the most.

Setting the Tone: Positivity Starts with Leadership

In the hospitality industry, fostering a culture of positivity starts with leadership. Leaders must model the behaviors and attitudes they want to see in their teams. This is particularly true at the 2 levels: the floor supervisor and the district manager.

These are two underappreciated roles within most organizations, but where the rubber meets the road. The front-line supervisor is often undertrained and underequipped to lead their team. Think about it. Yesterday this person could have been a high performing cashier, and today they are in charge of closing a retail store, restaurant, or other big box outlet. It is difficult for them to be positive if they aren’t confident in their role.

The District Manager has one of the toughest middle-management jobs around. They are responsible for communicating executive and organizational programs to the front line teams. They are the conduit to translate company vision into customer-facing action. If they don’t bring a can-do attitude to the party, then execution will likely flounder.

The Power of Personalization

In the hospitality industry, every guest is unique and looking for a “just for me” experience. Positivity plays a crucial role in customizing experiences. When team members approach service moments with an open and positive mindset, they can better understand and cater to the individual needs of guests.

Think about the coffee shop that offers many ways for guests to personalize their drinks and takes the time to select baristas and cashiers who remember their regulars and their orders.

This level of personalization not only delights customers but also strengthens their emotional connection to the brand. Positivity is the key ingredient in creating these memorable, relationship-building moments.

Turning Challenges into Opportunities

In the world of hospitality and customer experience, service hiccups are inevitable. It's how these challenges are handled that can make or break an experience. Positivity equips staff with the resilience to turn challenges into opportunities for a bit of WOW.

Think about the restaurant where a guest orders something that is out of stock. A server who has been empowered to find the best in situations thinks about what the guest has ordered and suggests an alternative instead of just declaring that the item is unavailable. They talk the guest through the alternative and help them make a decision that leaves them feeling cared for rather than disappointed.

Positivity enables staff to navigate difficult situations with poise and creativity, turning potentially negative experiences into a chance for memorable service.

Measuring the Impact of Positivity

Often measuring the impact of hospitality on business results can be tricky, but here are some great metrics to review over time to gauge success.

  1. Guest Satisfaction Scores: Monitor guest satisfaction scores and feedback. Positive interactions often correlate with higher scores and glowing reviews.

  2. Repeat Business: Measure the rate of repeat business and customer retention. Positive experiences lead to loyal customers who return again and again. Word of Mouth: Track the number of referrals and recommendations from satisfied guests. Positive experiences prompt guests to become advocates for your brand.

  3. Employee Engagement and Retention: A positive workplace culture often leads to higher employee engagement and retention, which, in turn, translates to better customer interactions.

  4. Complaint Resolution (or First Call Resolution): Assess how effectively challenges and complaints are resolved. Positivity can lead to quicker resolution and greater guest satisfaction.

  5. Verbatim Comments: Take the time to review you open ended customer comments and feed them into a sentiment calculator or word cloud. Keep your eyes open for key words and employee names and recognize accordingly.

Positivity and optimism aren’t just “nice to haves,” but rather the quality of exceptional leadership.

The trick is to remain pragmatic and keep an eye on performance while maintaining this mindset – and you will have to shift your style as the market and situations dictate.

You can transform your customer and employee experiences by embracing optimism. It's not a one-size-fits-all solution, but rather a mindset that permeates every aspect of your organization, from leadership to frontline staff.

This is more than just a smile and kind words – it’s a true strategic advantage.

It's the compass that guides you toward customer-centric thinking in this ever-evolving marketplace of hospitality and customer experience.

Until next time,


*Hand crafted by a real person, not AI

Meet Tony Johnson!

Tony is the Chief Experience Officer (CXO) for 4xi Global Consulting and leader of the Evolving Experience practice. Tony is an internationally recognized thought leader and influencer in Customer and Employee Experience. He hosts the wildly successful Customer Service Academy podcast and is the author of two books on leadership and CX.

Tony has worked with some of the top organizations across the globe, including 3M, Baylor Scott and White Health, University of Virginia, Siemens, SHRM, and more.

Tony is available to help your organization with:

  • Executive and leadership coaching

  • CX and EX strategy creation

  • Inspirational keynote talks

  • Fractional Chief Experience Officer

Evolving Experiences, a 4xi brand, focuses on Customer Experience (CX) and Employee Experience (EX) as growth engines. By creating fierce loyalty with both employees and customers, organization can differentiate themselves in an ever-changing and competitive marketplace.

Let’s talk about your employee experience, guest experience, fan experience, student experience, patient experience, or traveler experience to craft compelling moments that build lifelong loyalty.


Tony Johnson is 4xi’s Chief Experience Officer and leader of the Evolving Experiences© practice. Before joining 4xi, he was the Customer Service Officer for Aramark, a global food and facilities organization. Tony is a Certified Customer Experience Professional (CCXP), award-winning speaker, and globally recognized employee and customer experience expert.

Tony is the author of 3 books on leadership, employee engagement, and customer experience and hosts an industry-leading weekly podcast, Customer Service Academy.

For more information about 4xi's Evolving Experiences©, you can contact Tony directly at


4xi: Inspiring a brighter future, together.

4xi Global Consulting & Solutions is a team of talented leaders from both the client-side and service provider side, creating an impact on the Human Experience (HX) for people at work, in education, rest, and at leisure.

We believe in a people-first, experience-led philosophy; whether client, employee, or guest – their experience is the fundamental foundation of success.

We work with corporations, service providers, and innovators:

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