This piece was co-authored by Michael Mattson, Chief Empathy Officer at Walk A Mile CX, and Nick Bond, CXO at Apex.


Close your eyes and imagine stepping into a world where you are the centre of attention, where every detail is carefully crafted to make you feel valued, cared for, and truly at home. This is the essence of hospitality—an art that transforms ordinary moments into extraordinary memories.

As you arrive at a luxurious resort after a long journey, you’re greeted with a warm smile and a sincere “Welcome home.” The receptionist not only checks you in efficiently but also takes the time to learn about your preferences and the purpose of your visit. In an instant, you feel the weight of your travels melt away, replaced by a sense of belonging and acceptance.

This is the magic of hospitality. It’s about crafting experiences that make you feel simultaneously at home and pampered, comfortable yet excited. Hospitality is the heartbeat of human connection—it’s about taking care of each other and curating moments of joy and belonging.

A catalyst for connection  

But what if we told you that this feeling of warmth, acceptance, and personalised attention isn’t confined to the walls of a hotel or resort? What if we said that hospitality is not just an industry, but a mindset that has the power to transform any business, any interaction, and any relationship?

Hospitality is a common thread that weaves through every moment of connection between a company and its customers, between a brand and its audience, between one human being and another. Whether you’re interacting with a restaurant server, a financial advisor, or a healthcare provider, the fundamental human needs for care, comfort, and respect remain constant.

Personalisation, trust, and empathy – the pillars of hospitality  

Recent research conducted by J.D. Power in the U.S. retail banking industry underscores the universal nature of customer experience principles. The J.D. Power 2023 U.S. Retail Banking Satisfaction Study, which surveyed over 100,000 retail bank customers, reveals that the top factors influencing customer satisfaction include personalised advice and guidance, trust and fairness, and proactive communication and care. These findings suggest that empathy is a crucial component of exceptional customer experiences, as it enables companies to understand and respond to customers’ evolving needs and preferences, particularly during challenging economic times. By demonstrating empathy through personalised support, transparent communication, and a genuine concern for customers’ well-being, companies can build lasting relationships that transcend industry boundaries.

Imagine a small business owner who contacts their insurance company after a devastating fire. With a hospitality mindset, the claims adjuster not only processes the claim quickly but also takes the time to listen to the owner’s concerns, offer words of support, and connect them with resources to help them rebuild. The adjuster takes to heart that their role is not just about processing paperwork—it’s about being a source of comfort and guidance during a difficult time.

The emotional drivers in hospitality customer growth

And the data plays out in strong support. As a part of a recent look at the insurance category, Apex identified that there are three distinct emotional drivers of customer advocacy and growth, all of which are being sorely under-delivered across the industry: 

  • Honesty: Consistently being open and transparent in communications.
  • Dependability: Giving customers confidence that you always have their back, no matter what.
  • Empathy: Letting customers know you truly understand them through your words and actions.

These emotionally heightened elements of customer experience go well beyond the table stakes requirements of delivering seamless, efficient, and accurate service. They demonstrate that a hospitality mindset is not simply a nice-to-have, but is actively sought after as a prerequisite to customer loyalty and advocacy. 

And like anything in brand-building, it’s all about consistency, as McKinsey so eloquently put it. While it’s nice for an inspired employee to ‘surprise and delight’ a customer once in a while by delivering hospitality-like value, it’s another thing entirely to create a culture and processes that consistently foster these types of interactions across the journey. That’s when it becomes something your brand is famous for, and strategically differentiated on. 

Embracing the power of hospitality  

So, how can we harness the power of hospitality to transform our businesses, our relationships, and our lives? It starts with a shift in mindset—a recognition that hospitality is not just a role, but a way of being.

Here are a few strategies to help you cultivate a hospitality mindset:

  1. Lead with empathy: Take the time to understand the perspectives and needs of others. Listen actively, ask questions, and seek to build genuine connections.
  1. Anticipate and exceed expectations: Go beyond the basic requirements of your role. Look for opportunities to surprise and delight, to create moments of joy and ease.
  1. Personalise the experience: Treat each person as an individual, with unique preferences and needs. Use data and insights to tailor your approach and create meaningful, memorable experiences.
  1. Empower your team: Consistently deliver at a higher level by fostering a culture of hospitality within your organisation. Encourage and equip your team to embrace the principles of empathy, responsiveness, and personalisation in their own work.
  1. Measure and improve: Use feedback and data to continuously refine and elevate the experiences you create. Set high standards for yourself and your team, and never stop striving for excellence.

The path forward is clear  

By embracing hospitality as a guiding principle, organisations across industries can drive customer loyalty, satisfaction, and long-term business success. They can differentiate themselves in a crowded marketplace by creating experiences that resonate on a deeply human level.

Whether you’re a hotel manager, a banker, a nurse, or a software engineer, remember that hospitality is not just a job—it’s a calling. It’s about treating every interaction as an opportunity to create a memorable, personalised experience that leaves people feeling valued, cared for, and excited to come back for more.

So, let’s embrace the hospitality mindset in all that we do. Lead with empathy, exceed expectations, and create experiences that touch hearts and change lives. When we do, we not only transform our businesses and industries—we humanise the world.

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