Great staff have supportive managers
14 December 2014

What’s the difference between service and hospitality?

It’s about adding soft skills to the equation!

Hospitality and service are broad topics, often used interchangeably. Either term may refer to the factors that create the “go-to neighborhood tavern,” or a “favorite New York dining experience.” To bring focus to each discipline, Invision Consulting defines hospitality as the art of creating feelings and memories, and service as the science of exacting execution. In successful organizations, one does not exist without the other. When organizations consistently choreograph service and hospitality, they deliver an experience that leaves your guests wanting more—and one that leads to return business, notoriety, and competitive edge.

The “art of hospitality” is best defined in very specific terms. It is the Bartender’s inclusive treatment of first-time guests amidst a crowd of regulars. It is the Maître d’s confident, warm welcome that instantly heightens expectations of what is to come. It is the even tone across important touch-points in the guest experience—making a reservation phone call, arriving for your reservation, being seated at your table, your dining experience, your departure.

The “science of service” is the efficiency of the reception desk, as guests wait in line to check in. It is invisible, careful and well-timed placement and removal of plates. It is the prompt check on satisfaction, soon after you have tasted your first few bites of your meal.  Great service is essential, but does not truly “sing” without hospitality.

These days, consistently great service, including great food, is essential to survival in the industry. Guests know they can go elsewhere if an establishment fails to deliver. Even with both great food and service, guests still crave the magic that hospitality adds to the equation. They want the “I never want this night to end” dinner, or the thrill of feeling like the sexiest person on the dance floor.

How do the top organizations do both? On top of honing service—best practices, service scripts, timing and execution—they have a staff that has also mastered the “soft skills.” The soft skills incarnate an organization’s unique brand of hospitality and are reflected in everything their staff does for their guests.  To apply soft skills, staff must also have a crystal clear understanding of how a restaurant or nightclub owner wants that experience to look, feel and sound at every key interaction in that experience.

For example, how does your staff make guests feel “special” during their meal? An important touch point is the first 5-10 minutes after guests are seated, greeted, review the menu and decide on their order.  Can the staff “read” the table and how guests want to be treated? Does staff invite discussion and questions, happily and openly? Do they request preferences and match those preferences with suggestions and preparation details? Do they offer intelligent suggestions, their own favorites, and guide guests in a way that builds confidence in their choices?  Do they return after guests have tasted their food, with genuine concern that the chosen items were indeed a success?

Strong soft skills enable staff to do their best in delivering the right guest experience, by embodying the energy, style and intended mannerisms of the establishment. Top organizations hire staff not only for their experience but also seek out individuals who demonstrate the personality traits, communication skills and social graces that will influence how they perform their duties and reflect their natural ability to deliver services with hospitality. Once hired, top organizations continue to invest in their employees by providing coaching, training and team building opportunities that allow staff to strengthen their awareness and appreciation of soft skills to support ongoing personal and team development.

Please contact us to learn more about building top performing, self-empowered and motivated teams that understand the importance of delivering both service and hospitality, and why the soft skills factor big in the equation. 

“Soft Skills” have become some of the most used buzz words of the last twenty years and is associated with the study of emotional intelligence and human behavior. We simply define it as the personality traits, attitudes, social graces and communication styles that characterize and individual’s interactions with other people.

Unlike hard skills which tend to be specific to a certain type of task or occupational requirement, soft skills are broadly applicable to all types of interpersonal relationships.