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Hospitality Management – Dating Colleagues

As I thought about this subject, I called Maria Ruiz, Learning and Development Manager of the elegant Mandarin Oriental Hotel in Boston, Massachusetts. I originally met Maria when she was the Senior Learning Manager of the Four Seasons Hotel in Miami, Florida. After laughing hysterically she finally said, “That’s how I met my husband!” At that time, both she and her intended were working at the Ritz Carlton Hotel, San Juan, as front desk clerks. They fell in love and dutifully reported this development to management. Obviously, she was then carried off into the sunset by her white knight. I’m going to guess that this is not the usual ending to this story.

Some organizations have the involved parties sign a “Love Contract.” This document is between the involved parties and the company. It states that both parties recognize that workplace romances can have negative effects. The parties agree that the relationship is consensual and promise to do their best to avoid these problems.

Your brand’s dating policy may require that relationships between associates be reported both to Human Resources and to each participant’s supervisor. The organization does not want supervisors dating their direct reports, and who can blame them? If the romance goes sour, you have all of the ingredients for not only a serious conflict of interest; but, for much personal embarrassment and a sexual harassment lawsuit as well.

Have I mentioned that the entire department’s morale can also be affected by hints of preferential treatment between co-workers or between an associate and a supervisor?

Here are a few simple guidelines to follow should you find yourself dating a colleague:

  • Please don’t physically touch your love interest at work.
  • No long, meaningful glances or giggles during meetings.
  • Please do not telephone, text, e-mail, or use social media to contact your cherished-one during your time on property together.
  • While on property, only work-related contact will reflect well on you as a professional.
  • Check your brand’s dating policy. If it requires disclosing the relationship, then do so.

Think how much better it is for each of you to present yourselves professionally at all times. You are honorable people and frankly, it is just so much easier to do the right thing than to have to hide behind a potted palm tree, should you be spotted together at a bistro some evening.

Hospitality is an amazingly accepting and flexible industry. If you find yourself in this situation, you and your beloved need to think about speaking with your individual supervisors. Take the plunge. It really may not be anything more than a small splash! Good luck!


Excerpts of blog taken from the book: Hospitality Management – People Skills & Manners on and off the Job. Copyright © 2015 Lyn Pont, PhD

“Pont’s book is a must-read for anyone considering a career in hospitality.”

— Isadore Sharp, chairman and founder, Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts

See the book at:   www.HospitalityManners.com

Visit Lyn at:         www.MannersForBusiness.com


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