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Service is not hospitality

By: James C. Grillo, CMP | Dec 10, 2019

ServiceI have never wavered and try to be hospitable in daily life, personally and professionally. I believe that hospitality is an innate trait in people which some would call the “X factor.” I also believe it’s related to the unique experiences people have when and where they grew up.

So, let’s start with the definition of hospitality, according to Wikipedia: the friendly and generous reception and entertainment of guests, visitors, or strangers. The description of hospitality is: friendliness, hospitableness, welcome, warm, reception, helpfulness, neighborliness, warmth, warm-heartedness, kindness, kind-ability, generosity, liberality, bountifulness, open-handedness. Hospitality is the thing that buffers your customer or client’s stress.

Here’s a tip: Place yourself in the other person’s shoes. Feel their emotions whether they are happy, disappointed, sad, frustrated or mad. Feel like you were them at that moment and then respond. I’ll bet you will treat them like you would want to be treated. At that point you want not just service; you want hospitality. 

Service is not hospitality. Unforgettable service is hospitality. Service is the act of handling a task. It is the intangible good that certain industries provide, including the hotel industry. Guests are not only expecting better tangible accommodations, they are expecting the intangible experience to be unforgettable — service taken to the next level. This is hospitality.

What does hospitality mean to you? For me, let’s talk restaurants. I’ve had good food and great service taken to the next level. I’ve also had great food, but service was lacking and almost negligent. I grew up as a busboy, room service attendant, line cook and a GM of a popular dinner theater here in Chicago. I will always opt to provide good food and great service staff that take it to the next level. Hospitality like this can increase your sales and it can also increase tips for employees that rely on them. For the meeting and event planner, they want and expect great unforgettable service for their groups. It’s their butts on the line if it is not provided. If provided, you will have a planner for life!

Lastly, some of you are shaking your heads “yes” while reading this. It all comes natural to you. I really hope that we all have awesome unforgettable outstanding hospitality experience in the future. I truly hope you have a hospitable 2020!

About the author: Jim Grillo is a past president of MPI Chicago Area Chapter and the founder and president of, the leader in building hospitality suppliers corporate group business opportunities. Jim currently serves on the board of directors of ILEA Chicago and leads a team of talent wranglers for the BMO Harris Bank Magnificent Mile Lights Festival. 



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James C. Grillo, CMP

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