There’s no magic formula, granted, but why is it great experiences in bars and restaurants that really encompass the true essence of hospitality are so few and far between in reality?
So what really is hospitality and where do so many places slip up at the first, if not second hurdle through the door.
Danny Meyer perhaps sums it essence most clearly in just two sentences in his institutional book on service Setting The Table (if you haven’t read it and so much as flirt with service, beg, borrow or steal to make sure you do. Tomorrow at the latest)
Hospitality is present when something happens for you. It is absent when something happens to you
The two prepositions for and to say it all.
We’re none of us (I suspect..) strangers to throwing a great party at home, ensuring our mates are well fed and watered whilst making them feel awesome, surely we can apply the same level of care for our guests in our working environment?
You are putting on the ultimate party at your home, some of the guests you know, many of the ‘plus ones’ you haven’t met before.. your house is spotlessly clean, there’s plenty of food and drink in the house and the freezer is stocked with ice. The music playlist is sorted, the lights are slightly dimmed, the candles are ready to go out and, having spent an hour getting yourself ready, you look great!
The welcome drinks are prepared and the nibbles are out. You’re organised and totally in control. Showtime is about to commence..
Your first guest arrives. You don’t know them! But, nevertheless, you smile, you kick your body language and you welcome them into your home with open arms. You give them a warm, genuine greeting and make them feel special, relaxed and instantly welcome with a warm hit of empathy.
You guide them into your home, keeping eye contact and, with thoughtful small talk, they instinctively feel you’re interested in them and you actually give a damn. You care.
As the first in the room, you take them to a place where they’ll feel comfortable, not too exposed, and you go ahead and take their coat and get them a drink, even if it’s just water from the tap.
Refreshed and relaxed, you consider what will make your guest feel even more comfortable, some nibbles perhaps? And a stiff drink!
You’ve made a welcome punch. A lot of pride has been taken in how it looks, the cup is filled with ice and a beautiful aromatic garnish is positioned perfectly in the glass. You return to your guest with some olives and give the cocktail to your guest. The cocktail looks great, the fresh zest of the lemon garnish rides on the smell of fresh bread baking in the oven and the glass feels perfectly chilled to the touch. Your guest’s senses are, for a moment, evoked by sensuality…
As more guests arrive and the sun disappears, the atmosphere begins to buzz. You notch the music up, put the candles out and you effortlessly work the room. You have created the perfect vibe and atmosphere for your guests and you acknowledge that they have chosen to come to YOUR party tonight. You are the ultimate host…
Hospitality. There’s no magic formula but do party on.