What is the key to great hospitality?

The hospitality industry - it is a term which encompasses many things and is interpreted in many ways, but what exactly is hospitality?

One definition of hospitality is: “friendly and liberal reception of strangers or guests” and I think that almost sums it up – but not quite. Hospitality is about people, that is true. It’s about the warmth of a welcome when you first set foot in a hotel, but it goes far beyond the reception of strangers and guests.

Graham Steven

In short, hospitality is the part the industry doesn’t charge for – yet it is one of the most important elements of everything that we in the sector do every day of our working lives. It is also, I believe, one of the things which our guests value most in any hospitality experience, and the key to great hospitality is to tailor what we do to each individual guest and make all of them feel truly valued.

Good hospitality can and should be everywhere in the hotel experience, from the discretion of a good waiter who fills your water glass before you realise its empty, to the person who sees fit to check you in to a quiet room because you’ve said you’re travelling with a baby, and a million other things in between.

Ultimately, the greatest compliment we can receive is a return visit and, for me, this subtle yet intrinsic part of what we do is one of the most important and satisfying parts of my job.

The greatest joy in providing good hospitality lies in the immediate reward to be found in the interaction between guest and provider, and the capacity to have a positive impact on someone’s life.

That doesn’t happen due to a desire for monetary gain or a large tip, but is borne out of a genuine interest in the people we are fortunate enough to meet every day.

From the small bed and breakfast to the giant multinational hotel chain, the basics of the industry are the same, even if the scale might be different. The industry will charge for things like rooms, food, drinks and a host of other products and services from spa treatments to leisure experiences.

Everything will have its price – except for the hospitality itself and, for me, it is the one thing which every single employee in the industry should have at the top of their professional agenda.

Time should always be made to sit down, reflect and learn lessons in every area of the business and this one is no exception.

From the bedroom furnishings to the menus, glasses and cutlery everything must add positively to the overall hotel equation and it’s important to get it right first time, every time.

In my opinion, how we interpret and deliver the “priceless” hospitality element of our business knits everything else together to create a vibrant and sustainable business – even if you can’t put a price on some of it.

Graham Steven, Macdonald Pittodrie House Hotel's new general manager

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