7 Ways To Practice Unreasonable Hospitality

Investing in developing a unique customer experience is one of the most powerful strategies a business leader can use, and customer service is at the core of this. I recently read Unreasonable Hospitality: The Remarkable Power of Giving People More Than They Expect by Will Guidara. The book delves into the philosophy and practice of going above and beyond in customer service. The book draws on Guidara’s extensive experience in the hospitality industry, particularly his time at Eleven Madison Park, a renowned restaurant in New York City.

The main takeaway from the book for me is this:

Unreasonable hospitality is not just for fancy restaurants! Choosing to care more doesn’t cost anything.

The core of unreasonable hospitality is you have to take care of your people first; in other words, start with your people if you want them to give their best.

With that said, here are some key ideas and ways you might apply them:

Creating Magical Moments

Guidara emphasizes the importance of creating unforgettable experiences for customers by paying attention to the smallest details. This could involve personalizing a customer’s experience based on what you know about them or going out of your way to fulfill a unique request.

The core idea of creating magical moments is “one size fits one“, which is to contour the experience to the person that they are. Guidara says that each night his team spent staff meetings at Eleven Madison Park dreaming up really cool experiences to deliver to their guests.

Here’s an example:

Action: Identify opportunities in your business to surprise and delight customers. This might mean remembering regular customers’ preferences or celebrating special occasions with them in a unique way.

The Power of Yes

In the book, Guidara discusses the power of saying “yes” to customer requests, even when they seem unreasonable. This doesn’t mean overcommitting or compromising your standards, but rather adopting a mindset of being open to possibilities.

Action: Train your team to approach customer requests with a “how can we make this happen” attitude rather than a reflexive “no.”

Investing in Relationships

Building strong relationships with customers is central to Guidara’s philosophy. He suggests that these relationships can turn customers into advocates for your business.

Action: Focus on building genuine connections with your customers. This could be through personalized communication, taking the time to learn about their preferences, or simply engaging in meaningful conversations.

Empowering Employees

Guidara believes in empowering employees to make decisions that enhance the customer experience. This can foster a sense of ownership and pride in their work.

Action: Encourage your employees to take initiative in solving customer problems and reward them for providing exceptional service.

The Importance of Storytelling

The book highlights the role of storytelling in creating a memorable brand. Stories can evoke emotions and make your business more relatable to customers.

Action: Craft and share stories about your business, its origins, the people behind it, and the values it stands for. Use these narratives in your marketing and customer interactions.

Consistency in Excellence

Consistency is key to building trust with customers. Guidara emphasizes the importance of maintaining high standards in every aspect of the business.

Action: Implement rigorous training and quality control measures to ensure that every customer interaction meets your high standards.

Anticipating Needs

Going beyond what’s expected often involves anticipating customer needs before they even arise. Knowing your customers, showing empathy, and paying attention to what they say and do is part of what it takes to go beyond standard service.

Action: Train your team to be observant and proactive. For example, if you run a restaurant and notice a guest looking around for a coat rack, have someone immediately offer to take their coat.


Bottom line: I really enjoyed the book. By incorporating these principles into your business, you can create an environment that not only meets but exceeds customer expectations, fostering loyalty and making your brand stand out.

In the video below, Will Guidara talks about how the above ideas helped him build the #1 restaurant in the world.