What is hospitality? The dictionary defines it as “the friendly and generous reception and entertainment of guests, visitors, or strangers.” The Bible points to hospitality as a spiritual gift, with instructions such as, “Treat the stranger who sojourns with you as the native among you”; “Show hospitality to one another without grumbling”; and “Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.” Buddhists hold a similar view of hospitality, a.k.a. sakkàra, which is described as the act of being welcoming and helpful to guests, strangers, and travelers.
In the travel industry, service and hospitality are often interchangeable, but, according to hotel marketing consultant Brenda Fields, the two are different concepts. “Service can be defined as the ‘act’ of providing a service, whereas ‘hospitality’ is the ‘cordial attitude’ of the person providing the service.”
Being hospitable is easier for some people than it is for others.
In the vacation rental industry, property management companies that have one or more hospitality-minded executives among their top leadership have a higher chance of success as the industry continues to shift.
With a hospitality-minded leader, the company is laser-focused on its core mission of providing great accommodations and experiences for guests. These leaders operate with a clear vision of why they are in business, what service they provide, and how they want to provide this service. With this clarity of vision, the team can eliminate much of the industry noise and focus on making guests comfortable and providing them with clean and safe vacation accommodations. This also allows the team to focus on maintaining the properties in the program.
Hospitality is a gift and—for many—a passion. If a company lacks hospitality-minded leadership, its mission tends to focus on getting guests in and out the door. The properties are not matched to guests, and the guests’ experience suffers.
For RBOs and hosts, hospitality is a key differentiator. Hospitality-minded RBOs and hosts who genuinely enjoy sharing their homes generally have different goals and motivations from RBOs and hosts who are only renting for the income. Income-driven homeowners who would not rent otherwise are sensitive to who is staying in their homes and tend to be more critical of cleaning and management. Any business that is working with or trying to attract RBOs or hosts will benefit from segmenting its prospects by their primary motivation.
The more closely a company can align its hospitality-oriented goals with its owner base, the more successful the company will be in the face of marketplace shifts like the ones expected to emerge in the vacation rental industry.