06.06.2019

How to deal with unwanted attention at events

You are working as a waiter or waitress at an event and are keen to make a good impression. After all you understand how important it is to keep your client happy.

There isn’t a client in hospitality that wants to book staff that look bored, angry or just fed up. You therefore decide that you will be full of energy, enthusiasm and smiles.

But what is the reality of what to do with unwanted attention at events? At an event you have a really small amount of time to make decisions on how to respond. How do you decide ifa guest is being too attentive to you? Maybe they were smiling too much, maybe laughing too loudly when you were close, maybe they were asking for too much of your time.
Maybe they touched your arm or possibly made an inappropriate remark. Any of these could be signs that a guest is interested in you. Or it could be that the guest is just acting the same as they would with anyone else and they are not interested in you at all.

Signs are hard to read. They are harder to read at events when you have people from all different ages, genders, backgrounds and cultures under the one roof.

As a server, it’s a challenging job you have. You have to be professional, be courteous with people and make them feel at ease without overstepping.  Your client will want all their guests to be well looked after but what happens if one guest shows too much interest in you. What should you do?
 
You could end up in a difficult situation and potentially you might lose your job. What can you do to maintain your professionalism and see off any unwanted attention? 
 
Identifying issues and how to deal with them

1.      
Decide if it is you
The first thing is to decide is whether you are being too familiar with a guest. It could be that you are attracted to them. You just didn’t realise it at the time. Be honest in your response to this question. If you suddenly realise that you are the main reason for the blurring of the customer boundary then take a step back and remind yourself that you are there to do a job as a server and not look for a date.

2.       Decide if it is the situation
Take a look at the event. What is happening? Let’s say you are serving at a Gala Dinner. Well that’s going to mean that the guests are there to relax and drink whereas you are there to work.
You might be invited by a table to join them. However, you can politely decline as you have a job to do and are not being paid to be a guest.

3.      
Decide if it is the guest
If you find that it is the guest that is the issue then don’t despair. There are simple things that can be done to alleviate the situation.  You can keep your interactions polite with them but do not join in more than you need to get the job done.  Do not encourage more attention even if it makes you feel good.

You can catch the eye of your team mates and ask for their help. Maybe one of them could serve the table that has the problem guest on it.  It’s important that you all work as a team of servers and look out for each other at events. It is amazing how a switch of server can diffuse a potential situation.
When alcohol is flowing, inhibitions break down a lot quicker so keep your professional head on.
Guests may be getting drunk but you are working and hence the gap of what is appropriate behaviour can more easily be seen.   

Do not be shocked if you get asked out on a date. Just remain calm and remind the guest that you are working and move yourself away from the situation.

If a guest persists despite your polite refusals then don’t hesitate to report any issues to your manager or supervisor.  They may decide to move you to  a different area to work or they may request that you take a break whilst they deal with the problem. Remember, being pestered or harassed is not acceptable so don’t keep quiet but do report anything that makes you feel uncomfortable or threatened.  
 
Supporting our staff  

At LTR we encourage all our staff to enjoy their work every single time they serve at a client event.
However, sometimes things can become tricky and that’s why it’s important that our staff set boundaries that are clear from the outset. They are encouraged to talk to us about any issues and we will do all we can to help. Please call on 020 7357 9869 or email info@learntrainrecruit.com

Alternatively, or in addition, our staff are encouraged to contact SupportLine. Basically, SupportLine are a charity organisation who provide confidential emotional support. SupportLine can be contacted on 01708 765200 or by e mail info@supportline.org.uk. Sometimes staff want to speak to people that are not their employer.

“We try to ensure our staff are never on their own in situations where they are likely to encounter unwanted attention” explains Tim Andrews Founder and Managing Director of LTR.

The world of hospitality is an exciting and creative one.  However, it’s worth being aware of the importance of customer boundaries to ensure that everyone benefits: staff, guests and clients. 

LTR offers Customer Service Training for all servers https://www.learntrainrecruit.com/courses/Customer-Service
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