In search of hospitality

Hire the absolutely best people you can – people with high HQ’s (hospitality quotient) with a love of the business. Look after them. Your people are your image and can be the difference between success and failure.

By Jeremy Ryland


We hear a lot about how good service is one of the keys to restaurant success.

Our restaurant reviewers have highlighted a noticeable drop-off in service quality, and the increased incidence of bad attitude, prevalent among waitstaff today. In a society where we are demanding more service and personal attention – we are getting less! And remember, 70% of consumers will avoid companies who have poor service.


But good service is not enough. Service is the technical ability to deliver a product; think of someone selling shoes, a mechanic or a therapist. They are all providing a service and in turn delivering you a result. This might be good service but it is not hospitality and the restaurant industry is about hospitality.


Hospitality is about generosity. Service is a monologue, something that one receives. Hospitality is a dialogue – a two-way relationship that provides an emotional experience. Hospitality is that elusive creature that we all desire but see differently.


Hospitality refers to the relationship between a guest and a host, and it also refers to the act or practice of being hospitable, that is, the reception and entertainment of guests, visitors, or strangers, with liberality and goodwill.

"Hospitality is making your guests feel at home,

even though you wish they were."


Hospitality is the ability to generate memories and experiences from someone. Elements such as the greeting, the farewell and the friendly smile all play a part in defining this form of generosity. In many ways, hospitality is the core of an experience, something that is warm, comforting and genuine.


Hospitality is the icing on the cake. Without the basics, hospitality is pointless, ineffective and unappreciated. Hospitality can be defined as making others feel comfortable no matter what the situation might be. It includes respect, sharing, generosity, kindness and tolerance. Hospitality is making someone welcome, comfortable, feeling special and inviting someone back.


Hospitality is real. It is not false or programmed. It is not a trained script. To be hospitable is to be predictive, responsive, sincere and genuine.


Danny Meyer, restaurateur and author of “Setting the Table” highlights that hospitality happens FOR you – not TO you.


And just as a recipe can never be better than it’s ingredients, hospitality can never be better than the quality of the staff.


Hospitality is almost impossible to teach. It’s about hiring the right people.”   

Danny Meyer


Danny describes good restaurant staff as having a high “HQ” – a high “hospitality quotient”. Just like IQ, not everyone has a high HQ. But only people with a high HQ can do hospitality well. They already have the high integrity, empathy, passion and energy necessary.


These are people with a genuine service passion; a quickness to smile and bring a smile to the faces of others. They have a desire to please and a talent for making others feel special. They are agreeable, friendly, proactive and accommodating. They impress customers and create memorable experiences.


It is important to try and attract staff with a high HQ. You can teach them how to hold a tray, how to pour drinks and how to clean tables. But you cannot teach HQ and service passion.


So, hire the absolutely best people you can – and look after them. Your people are your image and can be the difference between success and failure.


Great companies don’t hire skilled people and motivate them; they hire already motivated people and inspire them”  

Simon Sinek