The difference between service and hospitality

Published on 
3 min, 511 words

Categories: podcast life

What is the difference between service and hospitality?

I have had a book on my Amazon wishlist for a while - Unreasonable Hospitality by Will Guidara. I've not read it yet but I came across a podcast where he was interviewed by Simon Sinek so it piqued my interest.

Will Guidara took over the restaurant Eleven Madison Park and turned it into the best restaurant in the world. He did this by focussing on the experience, not just on the food.

There were a number of things that stood out for me (saved for a later post) but one in particular I will highlight here:

What's the difference between service and hospitality? Service is black and white, hospitality is colour. Service is just doing the thing that you do with precision, accuracy, and efficiency. Hospitality is how you make the person who you're doing that for feel. In a restaurant, service is getting the right plate to the right person at the right time. Hospitality is the extent to which you've created the conditions for connection while you're serving them that plate.

Service is relatively easy to achieve. It is about doing things right and following processes. Hospitality takes effort - a combination of listening/observing and action - that goes beyond and focusses on the experience. It is about building memories and doing things different.

The church I attend have two teams of volunteers focussed purely on people. The welcome team are there, as the name suggests, to welcome people. This starts at the front door and goes all the way through the service and afterwards. People regularly comment on the welcome they get and how they are made to feel at home.

The second team is the hospitality team. They provide refreshments after the service and for the volunteers before the service (fresh croissants and sometimes bacon sandwiches). Each week they serve hundreds of teas and coffees. They are aided by a third team - the baking team - who provide home baked cakes and cookies each week.

This relatively small act of service, providing refreshments, provides an environment where people are encouraged to hang around afterwards and connect; a chance to discuss and chat rather than rush off.

The hospitality team also go the extra mile and live up to their name when there are special events. For mothers day they will decorate the area with fresh flowers, use white tablecloths, have a theme for all the cakes. For recent royal events they have displayed flags and use the colours as the basis for decoration.

It is also about the connection when they serve the drinks - looking people in the eye and engaging with them, not worrying about how quickly they need to serve people.

Service can be great but hospitality makes the difference.


Unreasonable Hospitality

Unreasonable Hospitality with Will Guidara podcast

Rock Church

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