Smart move? Danny Meyer and Union Square Hospitality Group are now requiring vaccinations for both working and dining. Starting on September 7th, both staff and guests will need to be vaccinated.

The founder of Shake Shack has taken a stand that is sure to antagonize. Antagonizing is the A in the Pink Goldfish FLAWSOME framework. Want to stand out and differentiate? One of the easiest ways is to repel some customers. Intentionally exasperate, irritate, provoke, aggravate, and instigate hostility. Go out of your way to rub some people the wrong way. 

To be clear, the new policy only applies to the full-service, sit-down restaurants in New York and DC like the famed Grammercy Tavern. It doesn’t apply to Shake Shack which is now a separate publicly traded company.

Meyer broke the news on CNBC, citing the need to keep staff and guests safe. He believes the move will help to improve business, not hurt it.

In his words, “The vast majority of people who dine out, especially indoors, don’t want to see us go back to how things were…We know right now that the vaccine works, and it’s time to make sure that this economy continues to move forward. There’s no going back.”

This is surely a bold move by Meyer. Less than half of all Americans are fully vaccinated. Imagine a decision that can potentially alienate half of your potential customers. Or limit your pool of workers in a tight labor market.

Meyer is a leader in the hospitality industry. His book “Setting the Table” shares the lessons he’s learned from being in the business for decades. In the book, Meyer talks about the concept of agents or gatekeepers:

“In every business, there are employees who are the first point of contact with the customers (attendants at airport gates, receptionists at doctors’ offices, bank tellers, executive assistants). Those people can come across either as agents or as gatekeepers. An agent makes things happen for others. A gatekeeper sets up barriers to keep people out. In that transaction, did I present myself as an agent or a gatekeeper? In the world of hospitality, there’s rarely anything in between.”

So, here is the question. Is this policy a smart move? Is Meyer being an agent of safety or a gatekeeper for the unvaccinated?

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Stan Phelps walks the walk. He stands out in the sea of sameness by modeling his own Differentiated Experience (DX) message: Differentiation isn’t just about what you say, it’s about what you do and, more importantly, how and why you do it. Stan leverages his unique collection of 5,000+ case studies on customer, employee, and brand experience to engage audiences with informative learning-based experiences. He believes purposeful DX wins the hearts of employees and customers, and differentiation ultimately boosts loyalty, retention, referrals, and results.

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