Lessons in Unreasonable Hospitality with Will Guidara | E1966

Lessons in Unreasonable Hospitality with Will Guidara | E1966

Will Guidara of Unreasonable Hospitality joins Jason. (00:00:00)

  • Will Guidara believes that the only sustainable competitive advantage comes from investing in relationships through hospitality.
  • He emphasizes the importance of addiction to making others happy, in contrast to other forms of addiction.
  • Jason grew up in the restaurant business and shares his fond memories of Gramercy Tavern in the 90s.
  • He used to frequent the bar at Gramercy Tavern and ask for off-menu items, which the staff would often accommodate.
  • Jason was impressed by the exceptional hospitality at Gramercy Tavern and other restaurants in the Union Square Hospitality Group.
  • Jason recommends the book "Unreasonable Hospitality" by Will Guidara, calling it one of the great entrepreneurial books.
  • He encourages entrepreneurs to read the book and change their thinking about running their businesses.

Important premises from the book Unreasonable Hospitality and how it relates to all businesses including startups. (00:03:44)

  • The central premise of the book is that how you make people feel is as important as what you say to them.
  • Most businesses focus on creating the best product or the strongest brand, but these advantages are not sustainable in the long term.
  • The only sustainable competitive advantage comes through hospitality, which means consistently and generously investing in relationships.
  • This means investing in how we make people feel and the strength of connection they feel with us and our company.
  • Aligning this with how we make our teammates feel is also important.

Will explains how it felt to see parts from his book appear on the hit show The Bear. (00:06:26)

  • Will felt it was surreal to see his book's ideas reflected in the show "The Bear".
  • The show portrays the passion for unreasonable hospitality and the commitment to making team members feel valued.
  • Empowering front-line employees is crucial for offering unreasonable hospitality as they have the most knowledge about what customers need.
  • Giving employees agency and creating conditions they look forward to are ways to show unreasonable hospitality to team members.

Iconic examples of hospitality and how it can turn customers into advocates for your brand. (00:08:13)

  • Thoughtfulness, not money, is key to creating memorable hospitality experiences.
  • Examples of unreasonable hospitality:
    • Putting money in people's parking meters.
    • Creating personalized experiences based on customer preferences.
    • Empowering employees to come up with creative ideas to delight customers.

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Powerful examples of going above and beyond for your customer. (00:11:08)

  • Staff were dedicated to helping customers bring their ideas to life.
  • For a couple whose wedding was canceled, the staff organized a surprise wedding reception, complete with their wedding song and a party.
  • The staff turned a champagne cart into a Budweiser cart for a guest's father who preferred a more casual atmosphere.
  • Small gestures like placing quarters under napkins for customers discussing the tooth fairy were also appreciated.
  • Going above and beyond is not about spending money, but about making people feel seen and heard.
  • Active listening and creating space for customers to feel heard is crucial.
  • Acts of service and kindness benefit the giver as well as the recipient.
  • Will Guidara believes that making people feel good through exceptional service has given him a collection of positive memories.
  • Many people view working in service as demeaning, but it can be incredibly rewarding, similar to the feeling of giving a loved one a thoughtful gift.

Will’s annual “The Welcome Conference” in NY. (00:14:32)

  • Hospitality involves serving others and can have a significant impact on individuals and society.
  • Japan exemplifies exceptional hospitality, where people go above and beyond to assist others, creating memorable experiences.
  • Excellence in other cultures involves relentless discipline and making customers feel loved and appreciated.
  • Systemizing hospitality involves recognizing recurring moments and incorporating them into processes to consistently respond to customers' needs.
  • Hospitality inspires teams and can manifest in protecting customers from frustrations and anxieties, providing a sense of security and care.
  • Will Guidara experienced exceptional hospitality when his friend's wife, Mckenzie, printed and displayed 40 pictures of their family on the walls of their children's room during their stay in Seattle.
  • Small acts of hospitality, which require caring and effort, can have a profound impact on others and can be found in both personal life and work.

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Jason shares an anecdote of how he helps others. (00:22:13)

  • Jason believes in being present with others and having deep discussions.
  • He uses products and services he loves for unreasonable hospitality.
  • One example is a brand called Anker, which makes phone charging cables and battery packs.
  • Jason buys Anker battery packs in bulk and gives them to his friends when their phones are running low.
  • This small gesture creates joy and shows that he cares about their well-being.
  • Every time his friends use the battery pack, they think of him and appreciate his thoughtfulness.
  • Jason encourages businesses to think about how they can incorporate unreasonable hospitality into their products or services.

Will and Jason riff on interesting examples of unreasonable hospitality, including one that should exist for airplane passengers. (00:24:17)

  • Airlines should prioritize passenger comfort and provide amenities to enhance the flight experience, especially for those traveling with crying babies.
  • Leadership should foster a culture where exceptional customer service is the norm, allocating budgets to support this commitment.
  • Hospitality should be an integral part of any company's operations, just like tires are included when buying a car.
  • Unusual customer stories shared on social media can offer valuable insights and inspiration for improving customer service.
  • A pediatric dentist could have improved the patient's experience by allowing them to say goodbye and take a final picture before transitioning to an adult dentist.
  • Will Guidara shares examples of exceptional hospitality he experienced, including a dentist who gave him Polaroids from his childhood visits and JetBlue Mint's thoughtful breakfast bag with granola, green juice, and cold brew.
  • JetBlue Mint offers a great mint experience, especially in the cabins between the twos, with a sommelier selecting wines for the flights and providing passengers with a choice of three tapas-style breakfast items.
  • These examples emphasize the importance of going beyond routine procedures and personalizing experiences to make customers feel valued.

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A perspective shift that changes the value of call centers. (00:32:12)

  • Changed the metric from how quickly you got people off the phone to how much time they spent on the phone.
  • Viewed the call center as an investment in the brand rather than a cost center to be reduced.
  • Compared it to a restaurant where servers are not seen as a cost center but as an essential part of the dining experience.
  • Chewy is an online pet food and toy retailer.
  • When a customer's dog passes away, Chewy's system recognizes the recurring order and automatically cancels the subscription.
  • Chewy also offers a full refund for the last bag of food and sends flowers to the customer's house within a day or two with a condolence message.
  • This exceptional customer service creates a strong emotional connection with customers, ensuring their loyalty to Chewy.

How the show The Bear lifted Will’s ‘NY street hotdog’ story and made it their own - leading to his involvement for future seasons. (00:36:03)

  • "The Bear" adapted a story from Will Guidara's book "Unreasonable Hospitality" without his permission but later made him a co-producer for future seasons.
  • Will Guidara stresses the significance of fairness and ethical behavior when using others' content, extending beyond legal considerations.
  • "The Bear" hired a Dream Weaver to care for guest stars on set, creating a welcoming environment that made people want to stay.
  • Mike Ovitz, co-founder of Creative Artists Agency, practiced unreasonable hospitality by giving thoughtful gifts, such as renovating a director's driveway, which led to the director agreeing to do a film.
  • Guidara emphasizes the importance of going above and beyond for guests and creating memorable experiences, sharing an example of surprising his wife with a trip to Miss Outfire.

Will feels that The Bear was able to craft and articulate his message spot on in one of their best episodes. (00:40:21)

  • The Bear helped spread the message of Will's book in a unique way.
  • Will appreciates how the show beautifully portrayed the power of compelling someone to deliver a heartfelt gesture.
  • The scene where Richie delivers a deep dish pizza and then excitedly reads Will's book showcases a profound light bulb moment.
  • Will praises the writers for their long-term storytelling, transforming a cynical character into someone who takes pride in his work.
  • Will visited Noma twice and was amazed by the level of attention given to each dish.
  • He questions the need for so many people to prepare a single dish.

How to gain from the addictive personality traits in the restaurant business. (00:42:22)

  • Restaurant workers are often misfits who find their calling in the hospitality industry.
  • Addiction to fine dining can be about the pursuit of excellence, hospitality, or both.
  • Life is about creating meaningful memories with others through profound experiences that become part of their lives.
  • Attention to detail and caring for guests are more important than the amount of money spent on hospitality.
  • The definition of presence is caring so much about the person you're with that you stop caring about everything else.
  • Distractions like devices and constant stimulation are making it harder for people to maintain eye contact and engage in meaningful conversations.
  • Barry Wine, associated with The Nomad Hotel, has a son who curates the hotel's library.

The “Chicken for Two” at the NoMad hotel. (00:51:15)

  • The speaker had a memorable experience with the "chicken for two" dish at the NoMad hotel.
  • The dish was prepared in multiple ways and left a lasting impression on the speaker.
  • The NoMad hotel is now closed.
  • The speaker is torn between the preference for great servers and the convenience of QR code ordering.
  • They value servers who can provide recommendations and insights into the menu.
  • The speaker suggests asking servers about the most popular and highly recommended dishes.
  • QR code ordering can be beneficial for restaurants struggling to make a profit.
  • It allows for a reduction in staff and an increase in pay for the remaining employees.

Breaking down the state of tipping culture and how its removal from Eleven Madison Park was highly successful. (00:53:31)

  • The tipping culture in the US should be re-evaluated as it can make it difficult for servers to earn a living wage.
  • Removing tipping can be successful, as demonstrated by the Madison restaurant, but it requires careful management and a high demand for the restaurant.
  • Selling reservations in the aftermarket can devalue the dining experience and compromise the restaurateur's ability to provide maximum value.
  • Building relationships with restaurant staff can increase your chances of getting a table, especially at frequently booked restaurants.
  • Engaging with the staff, learning about their interests, and showing genuine care can make a positive impact.
  • Will Guidara recommends reading his book, watching the show "The Bear," and following him on social media to learn more about unreasonable hospitality.
  • Guidara created a practice of writing a newsletter called "premal" every two weeks, where he shares inspiring things he encounters in the world.
  • He highlights the concept of a "minute of Grace," which he learned from the New York Metro trains that intentionally leave a minute later than scheduled to allow people to slide in before the doors close.
  • Guidara encourages people to find opportunities for "minutes of Grace" in their own lives and work, emphasizing the importance of not wasting time.

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