Can you think of a time you were out and had a hospitality experience that was unique and memorable? I am not just talking about the time you had a really good meal at a nice restaurant. I am talking about the time someone went above and beyond and made you feel as if they wanted you to have the most amazing time. That experience is what hospitality is all about. No matter how big or small, those moments you will not forget or tell your friends and family about are what make hospitality an experience.
Hospitality does not only relate to hotels or restaurants; hospitality can be found in many places such as banks, hospitals, museums, and libraries.
The following blog will discuss what the essence of hospitality is, the difference between service and hospitality and lastly how to know if a memorable hospitality experience has been made.
The essence of hospitality
Hospitality is not just about providing a service; it is about creating a memorable and unique experience for your guests.
The definition of hospitality has been widely debated as it is not easy to single out one meaning, since it operates differently from setting to setting and for person to person. However, what remains consistent is the power human relationships holds within the hospitality experience. A relationship created between a host and the guest is extremely important as guests want to feel as though the experience is personal to them as an individual.
Although impressing a guest is important, it does not always have to come from extravagant gestures. Little things count just as much, like personalised welcomes or directly saying thank you to returning guests.
The Ritz Carlton Resorts of Naples in Florida utilises a very simple customer survey, in a way that is innovative and personal. Guests can complete a survey proposing the question, ‘how do you take your coffee?’ and upon arrival guests are greeted with their personalised cup of coffee. Something so simple, yet so effective and is certain to leave a lasting impression. (1)
The difference between service and hospitality
Although service is an aspect of hospitality, the concept of hospitality is very different. These differences can be explained simply by looking at different dimensions that are present in both service and hospitality.
Who is the experience for?
Service = customer
Hospitality = guests
What are the needs of the customer/guest?
Service = practical
Hospitality = experiential
What is the economic relationship?
Service = frugal
Hospitality = generosity
What separates service from hospitality from good service to a memorable experience is a change of mindset.
There is a tendency for service workers to be trained a particular way, to follow a ‘script’ and present themselves in a specific way. In comparison, hospitality work can be described as ‘pure’ services and although it is also a tangible exchange, the person to person connection is just as important.
A memorable hospitality host can connect with their guests. To be a good host it is essential to involve not only skill but show genuine effort. When you go out, do you remember the server who just brings you your meal or the front desk clerk who simply checks you in? Or do you remember the person who connects with you on a human to human level? I know that I always remember the person who shows noticeable effort and builds a memorable experience.
How to create a memorable experience
Guests experience is an important, if not the most important, aspect of hospitality. To create a meaningful experience, theorists Boswijk, Thijssen and Peelen (2) highlight the following nine characteristics that should be presented:
- There is a heightened concentration and focus, involving all the senses
- Sense of time is altered
- The individual is touched emotionally
- The process is unique for each individual and has intrinsic value
- There is contact to the ‘raw stuff’, not just a manufactured version
- There is an aspect of playfulness
- The induvial feels as though they have some control in the situation
- There is a good balance between the challenge and the individual’s personal capacity and capabilities
- There is a clear goal
An example from today
Today, with everything 2020 has thrown at us, there is a heightened appreciation and drive towards traveling local and visiting different parts of where you live. As an example, The South Australian Tourism Commission launched a campaign designed to encourage and reward South Australians to travel local and experience new destinations, called the Great State Voucher. The campaign offered travel vouchers of $100 for participating inner city accommodation and $50 for participating regional accommodation. (3) This allows individuals to feel a connection towards their home in a way that is affordable.
I recently travelled regionally in my home state of South Australia and it was very evident that those working and living in these country towns hold great amounts of appreciation towards those who are giving back to the economy and supporting local businesses. Upon return from my travels, I found myself telling those close to me about the amazing people who I encountered and the ways in which they treated and cared for their guests.
Hospitality is not for everyone, those who truly care about providing a hospitable experience do not just see it as a job. Generally, the desire to make people happy through entertaining is a strong enough motivator for many to get started in the hospitality world.
A quote by researcher Elizabeth Telfer (4) states, “if a commercial host looks after his or her guests well out of genuine concern for their happiness and charges them reasonably, rather than extortionately, for what he does, his activities can be called hospitable.” Taking into account the discussion within this blog, as long as a host is genuine and shows a passion for what you do, they have already moved one step ahead in the world of hospitality.
To summarise, to truly make a memorable experience for guests a hospitality host will generally possess the following attributes:
- They love to make people happy
- They treat the guests as if they are close friends or a family member
- Their motives are genuine and not driven by economic value
Robinsion, R, 2015, 5 examples of amazing hospitality, https://www.ecpi.edu/blog/5-examples-of-amazing-hospitality-management-inspire-your-career
Boswijk, A, Thijssen, T & Peelen, E, 2007, The experience economy: a new perspective, Pearson Prentice Hall, Amsterdam.
Government of South Australia, 2020, Great State Vouchers On Us, https://tourism.sa.gov.au/support/great-state-voucher
Lashley, C, & Morrison, A 2001, In Search of Hospitality, Taylor & Francis Group, Jordan Hill.