Cracking the Language Barrier: When is Hospitality Not Hospitality

Cracking the Language Barrier

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WHEN IS HOSPITALITY NOT HOSPITALITY? When it’s in the United States. 

Now before you think we are taking a shot at our American friends, I assure you we are not. We talk a lot about Hospitality here at Future Food, so it is interesting to note that what we think it means is not a universal definition.

As I was reading through the informative Summer 2019 (northern hemisphere) issue of the Urban Land publication from the ULI, I saw that there was a special section on Hospitality. Of the four articles, spanning over 20 pages of the magazine, none of them were about F&B. In the US, Hospitality means Hotels. 

A perusal of the shortlist of the 2019 Hospitality Design Awards – Projects shows the following categories: Luxury Hotels, Luxury Public Spaces, Upscale Hotel, Upscale Public Spaces, Lifestyle Hotels, . . . well, I think you get the idea. There are two categories for restaurants, but these make up only a very small percentage of the shortlisted candidates.

In Australia, Hospitality emphasises Food and Beverage operations. In the Australian government’s overview of the Hospitality sector, the first key occupation listed is Food and Beverage Manager. Hotel Managers are well down the list. 

In the UK, it is not surprising that their definition of Hospitality is very close to ours. In South Africa, there is about equal emphasis on both F&B and Hotels, though it probably leans more towards hotels. However, in Canada the balance tips towards F&B. On the European continent, they view Hospitality very much as the Americans – Hotels and Tourism – with both the French and the Germans in agreement about this.

Here at Future Food our view on Hospitality is very much focused on F&B and the Japanese concept of Omotenashi, which is defined by the Michelin Guide as, “Taking pride in anticipating and fulfilling people’s needs in advance. Every service is from the bottom of the heart – honest, no hiding, no pretending. Omotenashi, therefore, does not ask for flawless skills, but a pure heart – which leads back to these keywords: serve wholeheartedly.”

Omotenashi is something that can be learned, but it is difficult to be taught as it is a spirit of treating and thinking about your customers holistically rather than just following a set of rules.

It is important to remember that Hospitality starts before the customer even leaves the house: Is the booking system easy to use and is the level of service provided there equal to the level of service that the venue itself will deliver. It then progresses to the welcome statement when approaching the venue. It is only then at this third stage that the customer is actually inside and the venue gets to warmly welcome them. But before the menu is shown, the customer should be engaged by the design of the space and the comfort of the furnishings that are appropriate to the levels of service and price. By the time that the first food or beverage is brought to the table, the customer has been affected by a wide variety of touchpoints – all of which enhance the experience.

Future Food has been advising clients on how to get the most out of their operations for over three decades.  While we do not claim to be Omotenashi masters, we are constantly thinking about customers and what they want from their Food and Beverage. 

Cover image: Ole & Steen