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Book Review: “Unreasonable Hospitality”

Recently I was given a book titled, “Unreasonable Hospitality: The Remarkable Power of Giving People More Than They Expect” by Will Guidara. It was a speaker gift for doing a presentation for the North San Antonio Chamber of Commerce. I always appreciate receiving a book, but I really wondered if this may end up being more ‘fluff’ than content given the title. I was definitely wrong. The title interested me just enough to move it up in the “to read” stack, and I’m glad it did. If you are in any type of industry where you serve the end customer, you need to read this book.

In this easy-to-read, story-structured book, Mr. Guidara gives the reader lessons on “unreasonable hospitality” and how to develop a team than can deliver such. It’s a book on both leadership and customer service, with even a few long-term life lessons thrown in as well. Mr. Guidara had taken over management of a fine dining restaurant that had been struggling to move up in the rankings and ended up building a team that achieved number one status among their peers. The value for the reader though is the lessons on customer service that he recounts as he tells you stories of their journey.

For this article, I simply wanted to condense down his message into three critical points:

  • First, pay attention. As you read the book, you will find that one critical component of delivering “unreasonable” hospitality is to make sure you pay attention, not only to your customers, but to your team as well. So often we treat business as a transaction. If instead we treat business as it should be (serving another human being), then we allow it to rise to a much higher purpose. We can only do this though if we pay attention.

  • Then care. Paying attention isn’t enough. We have to genuinely care about what the individual’s needs and wants are in order to provide true hospitality. Yes, many things can be standardized, but hospitality at its finest is not one-size-fits-all. We must care about what is important to the individual to be able to provide them with an experience that they will truly find “hospitable”.

  • Not unreasonably expensive! Providing “unreasonable” hospitality doesn’t have to be unreasonably expensive believe it or not. The natural inclination is to think that if all budgetary concerns were removed, then of course you could service everyone extremely well. That’s not the case though. If you pay attention so that you learn what is truly important to them, you often find that it’s the simple things that people want. Yes, sometimes customers may want something that is close to impossible, but often it’s something that’s fairly simple. You just have to care enough to listen and customize things a little for them.

There are many other lessons in this book, and I must say many practical examples of how customers can be serviced at such a high level that it could be called “unreasonable” to expect. However, should you invest the time to read this book, I’m sure you will come away with ideas that will take your own business to the next higher level of customer satisfaction.

(PS: I get absolutely nothing by recommending this book. It’s just that good.)

I wish you the best in your business. Please feel free to reach out if we can be of assistance.

Mark Goldman


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