The importance of hospitality vs. customer service

What do T3 Expo, Starbucks and the Union Square Hospitality Group have in common?

All three were formed on the idea that the customer comes first and a personalized and customized experience matters!

Let’s start with the Union Square Hospitality Group, founded by Danny Meyer. In 2006, Meyer wrote a book called Setting the Table. The book is about more than just his restaurants and focuses on the importance of customer-care, and helping to inspire a new generation of companies to overhaul how they think about interacting with customers.

Danny has said, “You may think, as I once did, that I’m primarily in the business of serving good food. Actually, though, food is secondary to something that matters even more. In the end, what’s most meaningful is creating positive, uplifting outcomes for human experiences and human relationships. Business, like life, is all about how you make people feel. It’s that simple, and it’s that hard.”

We understand where you are coming from Danny. Some may think that T3 Expo is only in the business of being a general contractor and creating experiences, events and tradeshows. And, yes, that is what we do. But our focus is creating shareable and memorable moments at tradeshows and events that become must attend experiences for our attendees, associations and corporate customers.

Danny also speaks about the experience of flying on an airplane—something most of us can relate to. “I arrive alive and on time. I get the drink I asked for. The transaction is perfect: I get exactly what I paid for. But the problem is that I don’t get anything more. When they are wheeling the cart down the aisle, not one person looks at me in the eye or smiles or makes me feel that I am anything more than somebody occupying a seat.”

Danny argues that service and hospitality are not the same thing, and their differences aren’t even subtle. “Service is the technical delivery of a product,” he says, “Hospitality is how the delivery of that product makes its recipient feel. Service is a monologue. Hospitality is a dialogue.”

This is the same philosophy that Howard Schultz had when he started Starbucks coffee shops in 1983. He says he was “enamored” by the coffee experience people had in the Italians bars when he traveled to ItalyHe would see places where the Barista knew the name of each person entering and the coffee experience was about more than just a cup of coffee, it was about creating this sense of community and personalized service.

That is what Schultz has called in his annual reports the Starbucks Experience. At T3 Expo, we keep both Danny and Howard top of mind when we are working with our clients and creating memorable, shareable experiences for them and their customers. The philosophy of making personal connections, and having a dialogue versus just a series of transactions is not lost on us and we consider it a differentiator to the overall customer experience. Recalling the smallest details about a client, their family, or the kinds of coffee or wine they drink can make a huge difference.

Everyone knows it is important to deliver a great customer experience, but T3 Expo knows too that it is important to put in that “something extra special.”

To do this and do it well and consistently, we have created the T3 Customer Service Model that includes three unique phases: Discovery, Design and Execution/Production. We will be creating several blogs that outline the Model and to demonstrate how each phase is important to the overall customer experience.

Stay tuned. We will kick off the blog series with the first element of the model focused on Discovery!