For the past eight years I have been honored with the best view in the house. Doing my usual thing - promoting the area via photo and video - I have received the opportunity to see some amazing stuff. But the best view isn't for a sporting event or a concert or some unique knickknack being crafted in front of me. No, the best view in the house is being on hand when we surprise a "R.O.S.E." Award finalist and tell them about their nomination.

The "R.O.S.E." (Recognition of Service Excellence) Awards are an annual event we have. Our organization honors the very best in front-line service in the hospitality industry. Each year, I accompany our special events manager (the very talented Bethany Randolph) as she hand delivers one red rose and an invitation to the annual dinner where we honor the finalists and award the winners. I capture the moment with video and photos. I get to witness the surprise, excitement and emotion of these recipients.

The finalists are chosen by a panel of industry leaders. We get nominations-year round and then the panel narrows down the list of nominations to a short, but VERY impressive, list of the best. From there, we find out from the finalists' supervisors when the finalists will be working. We pick up roses from our long standing partner, Williams Florist, prepare an invitation to our dinner and head out to surprise the finalists.

The whole process does not seem very complicated, but it takes a lot of coordination and travel. With finalists stretching from Fair Oaks to Michigan City to Hammond, we cover a lot of area and travel a great amount in a three week span to surprise all of the finalists. I ride along with my camera in hand and follow Bethany as she walks through the front doors, asks for the supervisor and is then led to wherever the employee is working. Sometimes it's as easy as finding them at the front desk. Sometimes it isn't as convenient, and we find ourselves being escorted through a maze of hallways in the back of the house to find the finalist. No matter what the journey is to find them, the end result is always the payoff and provides the best view.

Finalists generally have no idea we are coming. In years past, they hadn't even heard of the R.O.S.E. Awards, but that has slowly changed and awareness has grown. We find them working and serving customers and we have to wait a moment to approach them. Accompanied by their supervisor and often times a few more executives who are brimming with pride, Bethany introduces us, gives a brief description of what our organization does and tells them what the R.O.S.E. Awards are. Then comes the good part - we tell them that they are a finalist. This is where the emotion begins. Sometimes it's shock or amazement. Sometimes they are at a loss for words. Sometimes they get choked up and cannot contain the emotion, and the tears flow. And I'm there, getting video clips of all of this. I have to say, though, sometimes the video clips do not do it justice. You just have to be there in person to get the full effect.

This year, we handed out a rose to a finalist who was so excited and shocked that I found myself smiling and sharing in her joy. You want to talk about a mood booster? It was at the Comfort Inn that my mood was raised, and then some. We went to the Comfort Inn located in Hobart and surprised Ethelynn Collins (what a cool last name, by the way). When we first walked in, Ethelynn greeted us at the front desk. She got a smile on her face as she welcomed us. We told her our business there and then told her that she had been nominated. That smile, which was already big and cheerful, somehow got bigger and her eyes began to get moist as tears filled them. She was shocked. She had been doing a great job, worked hard and took pride in her job. And all of that had just paid off. Her reaction was priceless, and I got to witness all of it. It was a moment like this that reminded me that I work in the hospitality industry, and these R.O.S.E. finalists who excel at their job, make our job easier.

We are here to tell stories and create awareness. We are here to promote and sell. With the service people such as Ethelynn Collins provide to guests, our job as storytellers and promoters becomes a bit easier. When this happens, I get the best view in the house.

To learn more about the R.O.S.E. Awards or to nominate someone for outstanding customer service, click here


Contributing Editor: Andy Collins
Former Video Production Manager with the South Shore CVA.