Connecting the Dots Between Service and Hospitality
While this post will use the creation of our business and our experience as the example, the
video and understanding of the difference between service and hospitality can be beneficial to
anyone looking to raise the bar of their own business, team or personal performance.
Before we launched our remote executive assistant company, we had many discussions and
asked many questions about how to leverage our unique experience to make us a different and
worthy competitor against the other virtual assistant companies in our competitive corner of
Those discussions and questions revolved around:
Our business model: How did our business model, which focuses on a 3-to-1 executive to
assistant ratio, differentiate our service from the others?
Our pricing: How would we charge and by extension compensate our executive assistants
appropriately and commensurate with their experience?
Our executive assistants: How would we determine the right fit for the service we were striving
to provide? Were they just gatekeepers on their boss’ office and calendar with the title
executive assistant or, as we strive to do, did they provide holistic support that touched all
aspects of their principal’s life and become a trusted member of their inner circle?
All important questions to ask but we always found ourselves circling back again and again to
talk about the difference between service and hospitality and how high-touch hospitality would
be a cornerstone of our remote executive assistant service.
Difference between Service and Hospitality
Have you even known something deep down in your heart as well as your head but haven’t
articulated it yet?
In our previous professional roles leading teams of assistants in offices supporting high-energy,
smart, successful and demanding people, we spent years coaching and training assistants under
our charge to “think three steps ahead”, “anticipate unforeseen circumstances”, “have a plan
B” and ask questions such as “What if your hard drive crashes?”, “What if the weather shifts
and pushes departure back?”, “What’s the cancellation policy?” and many others.
When we think back to those days now, we realize we were instinctually teaching high-level
We then pushed further with next level questions such as, “What seat on the plane will make
them cranky?”, “What time do they like to take coffee and where?”, “Who should I interrupt them in a meeting for?”, “When is their anniversary, what did they give last year, and has a gift
been purchased yet?” and many others.
These questions stretch into the realm of high-touch hospitality. See the difference?
Service is something done to someone while hospitality is how someone makes you feel.
Be a Hospitalian
While our instincts served us well when training those assistants, it wasn’t until we were
introduced to Bobby Stuckey and his TEDx talk, “Be a hospitalian”, that it all clicked.
Bobby Stuckey is a restaurateur who came up through the restaurant ranks in Arizona,
became a Master Sommelier and then opened acclaimed Italian restaurant Frasca Food and
Wine in Boulder, CO.
Bobby’s 8-minute TEDx talk (embedded below) articulated the difference between service and
hospitality for us as executive assistants in a way that reinforced everything we knew in both
our head and heart about the position of a top-level executive assistant.
By connecting the dots between service and hospitality and showing us that service is the start
with hospitality being the goal, our training sessions with assistants from that point forward
delivered the added punch to really push these new assistants to recognize and strive for new
Service is the start, Hospitality is the goal.
Service providers can do a great job, be on time, have attention to detail and be experts in their
specialty but if they’re jerks while they do it, would you still want to work with them
consistently or have them represent you and your business to other people?
A bellhop who hails you a cab, brings your bags up to your room and parks your car upon arrival is providing a service. A bellhop who does all of that but also remembers your name the following morning, asks what’s in store for you today and informs you that the museum you’re thinking of checking out is under repair and suggests another? That’s hospitality.
When training assistants, we remind them that a person who interacts with them in their boss’ office should walk away from that experience saying, “I don’t know what it was, but I really like that assistant.” They can’t put their finger on it but instinctively know they were treated with high-touch hospitality.
How will you work hospitality into your life and business? The below video “Be a hospitalian” is a great place to start.
When you are ready to consider having an ProAssisting Remote Executive Assistant join your team - one who consistently strives to deliver hospitality - we would love to talk.