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A Parisian Race Reminds Us To Celebrate the Hospitality Industry

The recent headlines surrounding France’s “Course des Cafés” felt like a long overdue shoutout to some of the hardest working employees in the labor force.

France takes pride in their service, despite the stereotypes of it being slow and unwelcoming – serving, in fact, is a serious profession that takes immense talent and competency. The country full-heartedly supports the industry, which was proven when thousands of spectators came out to watch enthusiastic waiters and waitresses power-walk through the streets precariously carrying trays of croissants, water, and coffee.

The café race is a Paris institution that started back in 1914 – the event took a hiatus after 2011 due to lack of funding. Now it’s back in full force to draw attention to the upcoming Summer Olympic and Paralympic Games, which France is proud to be hosting.

Other countries honor their hospitality workers in a variety of forms: Italy boasts a top-of-the-line international trade show that fosters relationships between businesses with all aspects of hotels, bars, restaurants and more. In different parts of England, there are activities honoring National Waiter’s Day, and London’s Hospitality Festival showcases live music and food especially prepared for hospitality staff.

The U.S. has two upcoming opportunities to celebrate the industry: National Waitstaff Day is on May 21 and National Hotel Employee Day is on September 1. Hospitality festivities can come in a variety of ways.

It’s time to start planning a celebration for the people who keep things running. Here are some ideas to get you started…

Italy: Coming together for business and pleasure

In Italy, hospitality takes center stage at the Hospitality – Il Salone dell’Accoglienza international trade show. But it’s not just a time to work, it’s a time to celebrate accomplishments in the industry, form new relationships, and honor the craft of service.

There are special programs dedicated to the development of craft beer, mixed drinks, and promoting mixology. Other events include workshops with suppliers, and a dedicated Winescape area teaches attendees about wine tourism and experiential hospitality. Potential growth is explored while also considering the implications of expansion and a concern for protecting natural resources.

This section of the fair also focuses on oil tourism. It only makes sense for Italy to shine a light on their premier product extra virgin olive oil and all of its appeal to tourists. Over 20,000 visitors attend this well-organized fair.

England: Another race gets the pints flowing

In addition to France’s main event, an additional race takes place recognizing England’s top tier servers. This time, it serves as part of the London Hospitality Festival. Similar to the French version, the National Waiters’ Day race also has servers carrying a tray – not being allowed to spill any water – across 400 meters.

The race is only one component of the entire festival. Organized sports run softball games and football (soccer) matches, and service industry businesses can even enter as organized teams. Rides and concerts keep everyone entertained. There’s also live music and a plethora of food and beverage options.

All of this planning and effort results in a noteworthy occasion, and it’s all about honoring England’s hospitality sector.

The national holiday was established in 2012 in association with the Springboard Charity, an organization that supports professionals on their Hospitality and Leisure career journeys. Springboard seeks to advance younger job seekers by providing them a path to secure jobs in the service industry. Their goal to call attention to this plight led to the festival that is dedicated to the holiday.

America: How to celebrate in the States

Unfortunately here in the U.S., it’s not as easy to report on large-scale celebrations for those that work in hospitality – because there aren’t many that exist. But there are ways to honor your staff, and you should.

The most impactful way to make a splash is to get the community involved. When you partner with neighboring businesses, you can create a bigger event that is likely to get participation (and possibly media coverage). It’s also easier to organize because there are helping hands contributing to different aspects.

Consider getting local musicians to perform, as they will likely do so for a low price. Restaurants can showcase their favorite dishes while bars provide some on-site bartending. Host a friendly competition amongst bartenders who would surely love to brag about a first-place award. The size and style of this type of event can range anywhere from an intimate company picnic to a city or state-wide festival.

Combine multiple elements from trade shows, festivals, and races to create an event where hospitality workers can actually have some fun. Because if anyone deserves it, they do.