Hospitality is an important component of any customer experience. New York restaurateur Danny Meyer said that "hospitality is everything," according to Oprah.com. Part of being hospitable is to help people become comfortable in their surroundings and meet others. Icebreakers are games that encourage groups to interact with one another. Prepare for both hospitality and icebreakers at the beginning of each important meeting, retreat or training session.
Food and drink are basic components of hospitality. Set a tone for your event through the refreshments you serve. If participants travelled to a new city for your meeting, serve food and drinks unique to the region. For example, if your event is in Philadelphia, serve Philly cheesesteaks; if you're in Buffalo, New York, serve Buffalo wings. Work with a local meeting planner or restaurant to determine area-specific foods. If participants are local, coordinate the food and drink to the theme of the event. For example, at a winter meeting to announce summer sales goals, serve ice cream or watermelons. Consider the time of day and dietary needs of participants when choosing hospitality items.
This activity works with any size group. Ask everyone to find someone in the group they do not know. Allow two minutes to talk about one topic you choose. The Pecos River management consulting group uses discussion questions such as "Find three things you and your partner have in common," "Describe for your partner the first job you ever held," "What would you do if you won the lottery?" "What are your most favourite and least favourite things about working for this organisation?" After the first pair has talked for two minutes, ask people to find a new partner and give them a new topic.
Vote With Your Feet
This icebreaker works for small- or medium-size groups. Have participants stand in an area without major obstacles so they can move around the room freely. Designate one wall of the meeting space as "true" and the opposite wall as "false." As participants hear each statement, they must go to one side of the room or the other depending on whether the statement is true or false for them. Say one statement at a time and allow people to move. Use phrases that are true or false for each person, such as "I have been working at my company more than five years." Once people are in two groups on opposite sides of the room, ask them to introduce themselves to one new person in the group and tell that person more detail about why the statement is true or false for them. Then say another statement so people create new groups. After a few statements, continue the game with statements that introduce the topic of the event. For example, at a leadership training seminar say, "I lead a team of five or more people."