Hospitality. What does it bring to mind? Hotels? Restaurants? Well, while it may relate to those things, it can relate to every business. Hospitality is more than an industry, it is an approach to how you serve your customers.
Think of a quintessential hospitality experience, the dinner party. A dinner party is all about service, and it is service with a hospitality approach. Think about what you do.
Before anyone even shows up, you prepare by cleaning up, you make dinner, you create a nice environment. When guests arrive, you welcome them and strive to make them comfortable. Then begins the focus on service. You pour drinks and bring out the appetizers. You constantly scan the room for anyone with an empty glass. You are on the prowl to keep everyone happy. At dinner, it’s much the same, you pour, offer food, and keep plates and glasses stocked. And then, when everyone is leaving, you let them know how much you appreciated them coming and how you want to see them return.
If we were to define what made that experience a hospitality event, three key elements come to mind: welcome, proactive helpfulness, and appreciation. And all of it is focused on how people are feeling.
Danny Meyer, the renowned restauranteur, says it this way, “Service is the technical delivery of a product. Hospitality is how the delivery of that product makes its recipient feel. Service is a monologue. Hospitality, on the other hand, is a dialogue.”
What about your business? Take a look around. Are you providing mere service or is it service with a hospitality approach? Are you welcoming customers? Do they feel like you want them there? Do your associates just deliver what’s requested or do they seek out the needs of customers and look for opportunities to “keep glasses full” and make people more comfortable? Hospitality requires, as Meyer puts it, “listening to [people] with every sense.” It requires curiosity and a desire to make the lives of others better. It requires making every transaction an interaction that generates good will. It takes work, yes, but the rewards are immense.
With hospitality comes community and with community comes loyalty and with loyalty comes not only long-term success but a knowledge that what you are doing is making a difference. And it is that knowledge that engages your workforce and keeps your business moving forward.
Take a look around. Are you a hospitality provider or just a provider?
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