Service is certainly more than filling up a wine glass.

There is no doubt that great service is one of the most important factors in the hospitality industry. However, this is a concept that has deeper roots than just ensuring someone's drink is filled up or their needs are taken care of. As such, it is appropriate to look at service from a philosophical and anthropological angle to make sense of why it is so vital for both students, educators and the industry.

Understanding the concept of 'service'

In an article written by Carmen Pavia, from Kenvale College, service is a person-centred encounter for both hosts and guests. "The person" is the starting point and the reason for service. Service has its origin and conclusion in the person. This notion of "person-centred service" is what needs to be at the core of hospitality education.

The act of service starts and finishes in the person. One party must be willing to undertake and complete an action and the other person's experience changes as a result of that process. Service is therefore much wider than the action itself, it is about the human condition to complete the entire delivery process and the experience that the receiver encounters as a result.

This theoretical understanding begs an interesting question: why should students or employees care about service from a philosophical perspective?

A change in service attitude

In the world of hospitality, attitude is a fundamental element. If students and employees understand the true nature of service, there is the prospect of enjoying their work, higher productivity, lower staff turnover and a better bottom line.

Pavia argues that personalism can help us understand the true nature of service. Personalism is a person-centred philosophy recognising the dignity of the person, the uniqueness of each person and each person is a subject who is capable of interiority, freedom and personal autonomy. Personalism is different from individualism as it recognises the social and relational nature of the human being.

If service starts and finishes with the person then simply delivering good food, and good coffee is not enough. If service encompasses the free will, the interior thoughts, feelings and autonomy of the one serving (which leads to an external attitude) then there needs to be more to hospitality education than just learning a set of skills.

Improving the service experience long-term

At the end of the day, service should be focused on the person. This is the best way to ensure a cafe, restaurant or bar is creating good and ever improving service. Appreciating the power of service will make the encounter more personal and memorable – key aspects of customer service.

Service will become a top priority for all hospitality professionals if the core values of dignity and respect are recognised and fostered as central to customer, client and personal relationships.

To learn more about this approach to service, feel free to get in touch with us today.

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Thank you for inviting us – we really did appreciate it. I must say I was really impressed by the Briar Ridge team – one of them (… Aiden) did a really great job explaining who they were, what they were about etc., and really took the time to give us the background on the person behind it all (Gwyn Olsen). He’d clearly immersed himself in the project, and I think she’d have been really pleased if she’d seen that. Happy to reach out and tell her so if you think it would help pave the way for future events.

- Anonymous, Winefest Guest 2015

I just wanted to express thanks and congratulations to all at Kenvale for the magnificent lunch provided on Thursday.

I have been to many hatted restaurants this year and can honestly say that they would have struggled to produce such fantastic dishes.

The lunch was a credit to your students and your staff.  It would be a privilege to enjoy another visit next year.

Best wishes to your graduating students for success in their career and to your staff to continue to guide students to reach such a high standard.

- Anonymous public guest at Kenvale Restaurant 2015

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