Unreasonable Hospitality: Why You Should Never Settle For Less Than Giving Your Best to Guests

Unreasonable Hospitality: Why You Should Never Settle For Less Than Giving Your Best to Guests

Unreasonable Hospitality is the title of the bestselling book by Will Guidara. It’s also the subject of this blog post. We’ll explore what that means and show how it applies to bed and breakfast innkeepers. 

Create a Hospitality First Culture

When you create a hospitality first culture, everything about your business improves. Mr. Guidara, the author, is the former co-owner of Eleven Madison Park, which ranked as the #1 restaurant in the world under his leadership. In his book, he describes the difficulties and lessons he and his team learned along the way. 

He is the founder of Thank You, a hospitality company that develops world-class destinations and helps leaders across industries transform their approach to customer service. Will Guidara has also coauthored four cookbooks, in addition to writing the book Unreasonable Hospitality.  Below is his TED Talk called, “The Secret Ingredients of Great Hospitality.”

Focus on Guest Experiences

Will Guidara states that we have the opportunity (and a responsibility) to make magic in a world that desperately needs more of it. He recommends that we seek out new ways to make our guests’ experiences a little more seamless, relaxing, and delightful. Look critically at every step of service from the perspective of the guest’s experience.

We can start with what we want to achieve. Eventually, we can “reverse engineer” our great idea to decide what is possible and cost effective. Unreasonable hospitality means going above and beyond, doing more, always giving guests more than they expected.

Live With Intentionality

Living with intentionality means knowing that everything you do is in service of your main goal. 

  • Know what you want to do
  • Work thoughtfully with a clear purpose
  • Keep an eye on your desired result
  • Run toward what you want (rather than away from what you don’t want)

Follow The Rule of 95/5

The author’s Rule of 95/5 is to manage 95% of your business down to the penny; and spend the last 5% foolishly. Why? Because that last 5% has an outsize impact on the guest experience. It’s some of the smartest money you’ll ever spend. 

What expense would make an incredible difference in your guest experience AND pay dividends in return? When you identify those difference makers, that’s where you spend money up front. 

Set Expectations

Eleven Madison Park’s goal was “to be the best four-start restaurant for the next generation.” Author Will Guidara recommends that every company, no matter its size, spend a few weeks hashing out every one of their core values and committing them to paper. 

Show Compassionate Guest Communication

Usually people want to be heard more than they want to be agreed with. At the very least, take the time to show guests respect by listening. It’s your job to read the guest and serve them how they want to be served. Be optimistic, enthusiastic, and show you care and appreciate your guests. What criticism offers you is the opportunity to have your perspective challenged–or at least to grow by truly considering it. 

Re-Evaluate Each Part of Your Hospitality Business

The author states that no aspect of your business should be off-limites to re-evaluation. Never change for the sake of change itself. However, you want to implement changes that will help you become the best at what you do. 

There’s nobility in pursuing service. Hospitality professionals can improve other people’s lives by creating a magical world they can escape to. Name for yourself why your work matters. Be part of something bigger than yourself. 

Study Your Competition

Study other, more established and successful competitors. 

  • What are your competitors doing better than what you’re doing?
  • What can you learn from your competitors?
  • What can you borrow from your competitors and make your own?

It may not be possible to do everything perfectly, but it is possible to do many things perfectly. The definition of excellence is getting as many details as possible right.

Use The One-Inch Rule

Eleven Madison Park’s “One-Inch Rule” was both a literal–to put the plates down gently–and a metaphorical rule, a reminder to stay present and follow through all the way to the last inch, no matter what you may be doing. By consistently doing things to the best of your ability and following them through to completion, your hospitality business can thrive. 

Provide Thoughtful Gestures For Each of Your Guests

If you watched the above video, you learned some of the specific gestures the staff at Eleven Madison Park made for their diners. Unreasonable hospitality means providing thoughtful, high-touch gestures for every one of their guests. The value of the gift isn’t about what went into giving it, but how the person feels after receiving it. Luxury means giving more; hospitality means being more thoughtful. 

Seeing that wonderful look of wonder and delight cross a guest’s face as they realized what they were seeing was a transformational moment for the staff at Eleven Madison Park. The word-of-mouth marketing this brought made it worth every penny. It’s not the lavishness of the gift that counts, but its pricelessness. 

Gifts are a way to tell your guests you saw, heard, and recognized them–that you cared enough to listen, and to do something with what you heard. The right gift can help you extend your hospitality all the way into someone’s life. It becomes a legend they will continue to tell others. 

Push The Whole Profession Forward

The best restaurants in the world were encouraging and inspiring one another to ever-greater heights (when they might have instead become complacent). The friendly competition and exchange of ideas pushed the whole profession forward. It was their pursuit of excellence that brought Eleven Madison Park to the table, but it was their pursuit of Unreasonable Hospitality that took them to the top. 

This push for excellence also happens in professional innkeeping associations. As members of Select Registry and Association of Lodging Professionals, we appreciate the exchange of best practices. 

B&B Consulting

If you’re looking for a plan, either to buy, sell, or grow your B&B inn business, Rob Sales offers a complimentary consultation. Contact Rob today if you are in the states of North Carolina, South Carolina, or Georgia.

Rob and his wife Jane owned & operated bed and breakfast inns. Rob’s real estate specialty is bed and breakfast inn properties. B&B Consulting clients appreciate Rob’s unique insights, given his experience in both the hospitality and real estate industries.