Service vs Hospitality

I love to read books about cooking, cooking schools and restaurants.  Comparing the training and best practices for service in libraries and restaurants can be enlightening.

Recently, I read, “Beaten, seared and sauced: on becoming a chef at the Culinary Institute of America” by Jonathan Dixon.  He says, “Service is a transaction, hospitality is an experience.”

I find that an interesting distinction.

Libraries conduct many transactions every day: checking out materials, looking up phone numbers, finding something in the catalog, etc.  If done with our typical methods of customer service, these transactions will be done efficiently and with a smile.  Does that smile elevate this to an experience?  Is a smile hospitality?  I’m inclined to say, “no.”  Certainly, that is what typically happens in most libraries and would be considered OK.

Those routine tasks can be rote transactions for the staff and public.  Think about everyday things that happen in your life.  Consider what you thought or felt at the time.  Think about situations that you enjoyed.  What actions could we take from those memories that would transform a regular action into an experience? How would thinking about hospitality help make that shift from transaction to experience?

This is what I’m thinking about.  I want to hear from you.

  • Dawn

    I work a second part-time job and one of the other servers greets me by name every time I come in and he is working. I appreciate it and it makes me feel more welcome than just a hello. When the staff of a place I frequent often recognize me, call me by name, and take a minute to talk I really appreciate it.