Let’s see what hospitality means and how it applies to different areas of our life – work, family, travelling, shopping, eating out, hosting, sports etc. So, you already have an idea that hospitality applies in different manners in different contexts. However, the idea of what it takes to be hospitable is quite common among various cultures, that is, being pleasant, kind, and welcoming. Hospitality renders basic human interactions sincere and genuine.
People who practise hospitality in their everyday lives tend to have better connections and stronger sense of belonging with the people around them. Practising hospitality also reduces stress in our daily life. Hospitality is both individual and collective. It is a blend of general cultural expectations and individual traits that define hospitality for a person.
The term hospitality stemmed from the Latin hospitalitis which denotes the relationship between guest and host. As a concept, hospitality suffuses almost all religions and cultures. In ancient Greece, for instance, humans were expected to exhibit their virtue by being hospitable to humble strangers. All Abrahamic religions extoll hospitality, whereas Hinduism contains a belief that says “Guest is God.”
Recorded history of hospitality dates, at least, from 15,000 B.C., the first documented event of one tribe hosting another at the Lascaux caves in France. For most of the human history, generosity was a key constituent of hospitality, and the place of hospitality was the household. Its basics were mainly food, drink, and accommodation, offered to both neighbour and stranger, rich and poor.
The keys to success comprised knowledge of what would invoke guest’s pleasure, and delivering it flawlessly and generously. The use of customs associated with hospitality served social and psychological needs of both guest and host. These customs were defined for each step in the hospitality process, especially the arrival and the departure steps. These norms not only dictated the host’s behaviour toward the guest, but also the guest’s behaviour toward the host. For example, the guest was obliged to respect and not harm the host, and to observe the expected etiquettes while under the host’s roof.
Hepple, Kipps and Thomson (1990) studied the idea of hospitality as applied to business. They identified four characteristics of hospitality in its modern sense.
- It is conferred by a host on a guest
- It is interactive, involving the coming together of a provider and receiver
- It includes a mix of both tangible and intangible factors
- The host provides for the guest’s wellbeing and comfort.
To be clear hospitality is not the same thing as service. We need to know the difference between service and hospitality — and deliver on both. Service is transactional – a technical delivery, while hospitality is sincere – how the delivery makes the recipient feel. Hospitality is human, it is not a checklist that can be pulled off with indifferent operational efficacy. Hospitality is your tool to guard against the commoditization of a guest, customer, or visitor.
Hospitality starts from a thorough understanding of what will please the guest. The social customs linked with the hospitality protocols are also expected in commercial hospitality. Guests expect a greeting and a welcome, as well as thanks and an acknowledgement upon departure. When these customs are not respected, hospitality is lacking, and guests may be dissatisfied.
Hospitality industry includes a number of businesses and services that provide leisure facilities, entertainment, and customer satisfaction – focused on luxury, pleasure, enjoyment, and experiences, as against providing for necessities and essentials. Contrary to popular concept, hospitality business doesn’t necessarily relate to travel. It may well mean providing services to travellers, but it also comprises offering services to people who are not travellers. Hospitality businesses can be broadly divided into the following five sectors.
This sector entails providing temporary accommodation to people. It services locals as well as people travelling for various reasons. This sector comprises hotels, motels, bed & breakfasts, hostels, resorts, apartments, shared time etc.
Most outlets serving food and beverages offer people a way of transforming their leisure time into an enjoyable experience as well as socializing. Businesses in this sector include restaurants, catering, cafes, bars, nightclubs etc.
Not all travel services fall under hospitality, but travel industry and hospitality industry remain intertwined as a large part of travel industry are also hospitality services and are connected to leisure, customer satisfaction, pleasure, experiences, and the use of disposable income. Travel industry includes travel agents, tour operators, cruises, car rentals etc.
This includes planning, enabling, and delivering various events that involve hosting guests. It mainly includes event planners and party rental businesses.
The goal of recreation is to refresh a person’s body and mind. Entertainment businesses which provide shows such as movie or theatre, attractions which are places of special interest of visits such as zoos and museums, casinos, spectator sports and participatory sports are all parts of this sector.
The first and foremost job of a hospitality business is to make sure that their customers are satisfied. Here are a few things which are highly important.
- Be quick, receptive, and precise with feedback. Being hospitable requires you to be prompt, courteous, and specific when responding to both positive and negative feedback from customers. When a customer complains, do not just apologize, find ways to win trust back. It applies to both your physical as well as online presence.
- View positive feedback as a sales opportunity. Thank the customer and then look for a possibility to upsell or get referrals. Someone taking the care to give you a positive feedback or review is more likely to do further business with you.
- Communicate with customers. The best way to manage customer expectations is to be clear in your communications with them. Make the customer feel heard. Keep customers informed every step of their experience with you. Keep them informed if you are doing anything new in your business. In order to keep your hospitality in your customers’ minds, you have to stay top of mind. Showing customers that they are a part of your business journey is a distinctive way to show hospitality.
- Add personal touch. As much as you can make it personal for the customer. Customers that are coming back like to be greeted with a dose of familiarity. Instead of sending generic emails to your customers, use their name to address them. Make sure that your employees greet customers by their names as much as possible.
- Empower your front line employees. The entire organization must be aligned to provide the support these employees require to deliver the desired level of service. This support for the front line employees must include both the resources needed to deliver the service, and the in depth knowledge of customer wants and expectations.
- Look after your employees. A hospitable organization must provide hospitality not only to its customers, but also to its host employees, taking care of their wants and needs in a safe environment, with dignity.