In the first half of 2017, we will periodically run short series looking at BAM companies in different industries. We start with business as mission in the hospitality industry, sharing insights and stories from experienced company owners.
We asked BAM owners in the hospitality industry:
What are the advantages of being in the hospitality industry when it comes to doing BAM?
The hospitality industry is a great option when it comes to doing BAM, especially when food is involved. Having a meal is an essential human need, and so is shelter. As a service provider, you meet those basic needs and provide a common space for people to gather in a very non-threatening way – especially helpful in gospel-sensitive countries. Jesus’ first miracle was performed at a wedding when he turned water to wine, he also fed thousands with five loaves and two fish, he ate at Zacchaeus’ and Matthew’s houses, and the Bible gives us an account of his last supper with his disciples, as well as many other examples of having meals together. There is a saying that “the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach” and it is so true! – VL, Restaurant in East Asia
Hospitality is about people; relating to them and serving them. Sharing the good news well is also all about people. I found that being BAM-oriented gave our customer service an entirely different depth. It was about authentically, wishing our customers the best in every way not just creating an attractive environment so they will spend their money. I am a strong believer in authenticity. I believe most people sense the difference. I believe that difference made our customers curious and we let them ask questions. We made it a principle, just as we did with our products, to be open and to provide answers, when asked. At the end of the day, we had relationships with our customers and staff to steward and nourish toward wholeness. – Julia, Cafe in Mongolia
The business has the opportunity to purposefully intersect many, many layers of society. Relationships are created from a natural interaction between: client and patron (we as owners are both client and patron depending on who we are dialoguing with), employer and employee, neighbour and friend, government officer and business entity seeking to contribute to the betterment of society, etc.. There are numerous relationships that are created naturally in the course of doing business and it is our responsibility to foster them in such a way that others see Christ in us. – David, Café in Thailand
An advantage of a hospitality business like ours is that we can employ many people. We have many departments and within each one we have different teams. This team environment is ideal to build relationships with people, it’s great for discipleship. We work together, we’re real with each other and we work through issues together. The different teams and departments also need to work smoothly together, so there is a lot of potential for personal and leadership growth as the teams cooperate together to ensure we give a high quality experience to our customers. We also have the opportunity to connect with all parts of our community, at all levels of society. We meet all kinds of people, from government officials, to the poor in our community. We are advocates for our suppliers, we have good relationships with officials that come and eat in our cafe, we can get to know our customers and we are able to create community. We run a weekly kids club and we get kids of wealthy clients coming, together with kids of local farmers. We get to be a bridge between different people. This is a business environment that’s engaging with our community in a real way, yet it’s a safe place for our staff to come, to learn about business and learn about Jesus too. – K, Guest House and Cafe in East Asia
Compiled by Jo Plummer, with thanks to the BAM practitioners who shared their experiences.
Jo Plummer is the Co-Chair of the BAM Global Think Tank and co-editor the Lausanne Occasional Paper on Business as Mission. She has been developing resources for BAM since 2001 and currently serves as Editor of the Business as Mission website.