John Pritzker is in the hospitality business. So he knows how to be polite, he knows how to recognize authenticity, and he knows that thanking one’s host makes everyone feel better.
Pritzker lives in San Francisco, and he created a genuine stir after he publicly acknowledged the really nice people he found in Kansas City during the World Series.
A letter he wrote to The Kansas City Star supposedly “went viral,” though “widely noticed” or “much appreciated” are probably more appropriate than that overblown phrase. Still, many Kansas Citians, including Mayor Sly James, went bonkers over Pritzker’s message and spread it around on social media.
“It’s the craziest thing that ever happened,” Pritzker told me this week, when I tracked him down while he was traveling. “I told my kids, I’m trending. I don’t know what it means, but my kids assured me I wasn’t trending, so just relax.”
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Pritzker came to town to take in Game 6 of the World Series between the Royals and the San Francisco Giants.
“Let me just say that never in my life have I enjoyed being so terribly outnumbered and, by evening’s end, absolutely clubbed into submission,” Pritzker wrote to The Star.
“From the moment I hit the parking lot at Kauffman Stadium in my Giants gear, folks made a point to walk over, introduce themselves, welcome us to Kansas City and wish us good luck. People offered to buy us beer and brats.
“Most mind-bending was the woman who apologized for the lopsided score.”
Pritzker, a scion of the Hyatt Hotels family, has run his own hotel operation for many years, now called Commune Hotels and Resorts.
He might have been overstating the case in his letter when he said he’d told his wife “that I was prepared to move to Kansas City as soon as possible,” but he was sincere when he suggested that Kansas City possesses “a heaping helping of an America most people only dream about.”
Pritzker couldn’t stay for the Giants victory in Game 7 of the series, but he acknowledged it was the best post-season contest he could remember.
“I’m just a guy who went to a Royals game,” he said. “It’s not that people aren’t nice everywhere. But it was so uniform over a 4- or 5-hour period. It was so noticeable.”
Even the jaded sports folk are noticing. One writer for Sports Illustrated, Steve Rushin, has nominated Kansas City Royals fans as the magazine’s Sportsman of the Year.
Well done, people.
Like everyone’s mother says, see what happens when you’re nice — and you write a thank you letter.