In Hawaii, they pride themselves on the Aloha Spiritso much so, it’s law. The main focus of the spirit is to be welcoming and caring to others. In this Quick Tips! video, Dr. Pam Cox-Otto shares insight on the Aloha Spirit and explains how to make the student experience more welcoming.


Hi everyone. I’m doing tough duty this week. I’m in, yes, Honolulu and for proof … Uh-huh (affirmative). We are lucky enough to be the agency of record of the Hawaiian Community Colleges. So Cheryl Brum and I come out here regularly to work with them. And one of the things that I’ve learned while I’m here and experienced while I’m here is a thing called the aloha spirit. It’s important enough that they actually passed a law that people should be welcoming. And the elements, there’s lots of pieces to it. But the bottom line is this, it’s about being welcoming, engaging with people, being helpful and showing that you care. Right? Now, the reason why I’m talking about that is because a lot of times we’re at colleges and people tell us they have a problem with customer service. And I’m here to tell you, I think it’s less customer service. You’re doing the things they ask for, you’re processing their papers, you’re doing all of those things. But what you aren’t doing is giving them that sense of aloha or welcome.

And one of the things that I’ve experienced here every single time is the fact that people are open and friendly and seem to want you here. And considering how crazy and crowded it is, I wouldn’t blame them if they kicked us to the curb. So what I’m saying is, ask yourself, when you look at your college, are you welcoming? Do you tell people you’re glad they’re there? Do you show them you care by giving them buttons, welcoming them, making eye contact, things that don’t cost a lot of money, but say, “We’re committed to you being here”? Do you engage? Do you see people who are wandering? Do you help them? And I don’t mean just during that critical first week when nobody can find a parking spot. I mean the rest of the year, do you help them? And are you willing to engage in an ongoing kind of way?

That’s the spirit of aloha. It’s the issue of hospitality rather than customer service. So ask yourself this. Is your college doing all of the things it can to offer hospitality to the students, or is it simply processing them like they joined the military? I’ve done a couple of trainings on this. If you want to find out more, send me a quick email. But in the meantime, I have to say it. Aloha.