Thursday, 02 June 2016 05:58

No imitation for True Hospitality

Written by Melanie van Wyk - Managing Director

A few weeks ago we had the privilege of staying at a lodge in the Black Rhino Reserve (part of the Pilanesberg Nature Reserve). While this is one of my favourite places to spend time, this visit highlighted some of the service issues experienced when people are clearly not in the right industry for them. The service received from some of the staff members got me thinking in depth about what Hospitality really means. It’s easy to see when it’s real, even easier to see when it’s not.split

Hospitality - Definition: The friendly and generous reception and entertainment of guests, visitors, or strangers.

Hospitable - Definition: Being friendly and welcoming to visitors or guests.

2 definitions so similar and yet very different. Hospitality is perceived to relate to business or the hospitality industry, whereas hospitable relates more to one’s personal life.

Therein lies the disconnect of a true hospitality or being of service. Anyone working in the industry should merge the two as you should treat your guests as you would treat a beloved or friend arriving at your home.

True hospitality is the humility to be of genuine service to someone else whether known or a stranger in such a manner that they feel special.


The Practical Application of True Hospitality


Talk to the guests, find out where they’ve been, where they’ve travelling to next, what their interests are. All communication with the guest can lead you to adding some personal touches to their stay that will ensure they know you really care about their experience.

Body Language:

One of the first things we teach when training students is how you handle yourself in front of guests – stand up straight, hands behind your back, at the ready to serve. Not leaning against anything, playing on your phone or chatting to collegues.

Eye Contact & Smile:

Connection with guests is very imporant. Being confident in your service means you can deal with anything a guest may request of your – a smile is for free and the easiest way to give guests good service. 


There’s nothing worse than feeling like an intruder or irritation – we are there to serve at all times when in contact with the guest.

Genuine Warmth and Welcome Without Being Too Familiar:

While you must treat a guest as you would your family and friends, it is important to remember they are not. It is sometimes difficult to know where the line is between friendly and being a friend. Do not become too familiar with a guest, they are paying you for a service and a professional distance needs to be maintained, while being of service to them.

Before getting into this industry, you must decide if you can serve people as you will be doing that all day, no matter what your position is within the property you work for. I believe that true hospitality is a calling, not just a job.

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Melanie van Wyk Hotel ServicesMelanie van Wyk (B Com. Hotel & Tourism Management), the driving force behind Maze Consulting, has over 20 years local & international experience in the Hospitality Industry. Melanie joined the Spier team in 2002 as Receptionist and worked her way through the company until she left as General Manager in 2011. Some previous positions (not limited to Spier) also include Restaurant waitress, Banqueting waitress, Group Reservations, Reservations Manager and Revenue Manager. It is this diverse skill set that puts her in the perfect position to offer valuable directional service to hotels.

(For her full bio, click here)

Last modified on Friday, 24 May 2019 06:28