In working with several hospitality clients throughout the years, dress policy is inevitably an issue that rears its head time and time again. Many clients struggle with putting a policy in place, and even more face backlash when it comes to enforcing it.
The most recent issue of United Airlines refusing to allow a Pass Rider from entering the plane due to her apparel choice – in this case leggings (we’ll call it Legging Gate) – brings up the question of why we put dress policies in place and why enforcement is important.
From our experience, here are a few considerations:
1. What are you trying to convey to your guest/consumer?
Pass Riders are either employees of an airline or their friends and family who are typically extended the privilege to fly for free on-board the airline, given they adhere to a strict set of rules. Setting a standard within your category sends a message to your guests of what you stand for as a brand.
In the case of a luxury setting, for example, there is an expectation of level of service that directly correlates to the overall aesthetic of an environment, inclusive of its employees. Excellence of experience = expectation of excellence in the environment.
2. Consistency is key.
The uproar surrounding Legging Gate has many begging the question as to why it seems that a dress policy has appeared out of thin air. It’s for this very reason that consistency of enforcement is crucial. A system-wide rollout of a policy is necessary to ensure that parameters put in place are visible to all employees. Regular check-ins are also important, and a refresh of the policy is always a good idea to keep all parties informed.
3. Public Notice, Yes or No?
Depending on the type of business you operate, your policy should be made public. For service industry businesses, this is especially critical. Framing the policy with language about the mission is a good place to start. The case with United Airlines is unique in that the rules only applied to a small internal group – employees, friends and family. In this case, internal communication pertaining to company policy is a better approach.
What are your thoughts on the great debate of #unitedleggings Legging Gate? Do you think United was justified in turning away this Pass Rider? Tweet us @DEVENEYMKTG and let us know.