Do Your Customers
Know the Difference Between Service and Hospitality?
In his bestselling book, "Setting the Table", Danny Meyer
expresses the distinction between service and hospitality in this way: Service
is the technical delivery of a product. Hospitality is how the delivery of
that product makes its recipient feel.
Most restaurant operators likely understand this distinction. For instance,
the service aspect of the guest experience includes activities such as
giving them their order correctly, timing the service of orders within
guest expectations, acknowledging the guest, having foresight to accommodate
the guest's needs before they ask, or simply responding to a guest request
in a timely manner. These are simply the fundamentals of customer
On the other hand, expressions of hospitality go beyond customer
expectations. Providing hospitality means you must create an emotional
connection to your guest. Presenting an order on time to a guest is
service, but presenting that order with enthusiasm, a smile and a
sincere interest in the order being exactly how the customer wanted it
– that's an emotional connection letting them know you have their best
interest in mind.
Whether you are a drive-thru cashier, 5-star restaurant waiter, or simply a
food runner delivering food to the table, opportunities to express true
hospitality are endless – and they need not be over-the-top to make a
lasting impression. In fact, true hospitality can oftentimes overcome a
lack of service, but rarely can great service make up for poor
hospitality such as an attitude of indifference or looking like you don't
enjoy the job you are doing.
While we as restaurant operators may understand the difference between
service and hospitality, your guest simply rates their guest experience
by how they feel before, during and after they dine with you. To create
an extraordinary guest experience you must provide both service AND
hospitality – not service OR hospitality.
Some people are naturally hospitality minded – it's in their DNA so to
speak. For the rest of us, we may need to be more intentional if we
are to be more hospitable. Hospitality is a mindset. We must be of a mind
to engage emotionally with our guest in order to show hospitality.
For instance, guests often hear a server ask if everything is all right
with their order, but how many times does the server take the extra time
to show they really care? What if the server also said – with a smile
of course – "please let me know if it's not exactly to your liking and
I'll be happy to make it better," or, "I'll check back with you
in a minute or so to see if there is anything else you need to make your
meal more enjoyable."
Other forms of engagement include calling repeat guests by name, or asking
about their family, helping a disabled person or even accommodating a
mother with an unruly child. There are literally hundreds of ways to
show people you actually care about them.
How about your restaurant – are there ways you could intentionally up your
game by showing more hospitality?