Adam Gartenberg's Blog

Business Analytics and Optimization, IBM and Social Marketing

What the hospitality business can teach all of us

"There will always be someone else who can do it or make it as well as you.  It's how you make your customers feel while using your products that distinguishes you."

What I found fascinating about the quote above was that it doesn't come from someone who works with "products" the way I usually do, but rather from the restaurant industry.  Last week's Time has a very interesting article about the new book (Setting the Table) by Danny Meyer, owner of the Union Square Cafe and what has now grown into "a culinary empire."  (And, like any respectable blogger, I've just read the article, not the book itself, although I guess I'm off the hook because apparently it won't be out for a few more days.)

His basic premise is that we're moving into a new business era - from a service era to the hospitality economy.  What struck me, though, is how much of what he said is true in any industry, even for those like us who make and sell software for a living.  

Meyer also writes about the importance of dialogue - that this can't be a one way discussion.  Here's what he says about companies like the Container Store, Timberland and Jet Blue:

"Yes, they have an excellent product; yes, the know how to deliver, but that's not what bonds customers to them. It's the experience.  Service is a monologue: we decide on standards for service.  Hospitality is a dialogue:  to listen to a customer's needs and meet them.  It takes both great service and hospitality to be at the top."

I guess the question comes down to, how can I (and all of us) create that dialogue with our customers.  How do we transfer that idea of "hospitality" so that we deliver products that meet and exceed the wants, needs, and wishes of the people using our products.

Link:: The Business of Hospitality