Boundaries in Hospitality: The Key to Sustainable Success and Service Excellence

August 16, 2023 | 1362 Views

Boundaries in Hospitality: The Key to Sustainable Success and Service Excellence

Curt Archambault, FMP

Education Strategist, CHART | Partner Consultant, People & Performance Strategies

In the bustling world of hospitality, where the mantra often is "the customer is always right," boundaries can seem like a foreign concept. Whether it's the relentless pace of a restaurant kitchen or the 24/7 demands of a hotel, our industry is notorious for its long hours and the expectation of unwavering  dedication. But as I journeyed through my career, from drive-thrus to the luxury suites, I realized that boundaries are not a hindrance to service excellence; they are, in fact, its very foundation.

The Hospitality Myth: Boundaries as Barriers to Service

In my early days in the hospitality sector, the absence of boundaries was almost a rite of passage. The belief was clear: to serve is to sacrifice. Missing family gatherings, working through weekends, and being on-call became the norm. Setting boundaries? It was perceived as not being committed enough or not putting the guest's needs first.

This mindset wasn't unique to me; it's a sentiment that echoes in the corridors of hotels and the backrooms of restaurants. Boundaries, in this high-pressure environment, were often misconstrued as barriers to delivering exceptional service.

The Cost of Boundless Service

But here's the stark reality: without boundaries, even the most passionate chefs, diligent concierges, and charismatic managers begin to falter. The relentless pace takes a toll, leading to physical exhaustion, mental fatigue, and a decline in the very service standards we aim to uphold.

The Hospitality Revelation: Boundaries as the Bedrock of Service Excellence

Through my experiences and interactions with industry veterans, a transformative realization emerged: boundaries are essential for sustainable success in hospitality.

Here's the enhanced perspective:

  1. Guest Experience: A well-rested staff can provide more attentive, personalized service, leading to enhanced guest satisfaction. In the city that I live in, a number of restaurants (hotels don’t have this opportunity) have chosen to close two nights a week. The result, happier staff, less stress on staffing issues, owner/manager respite and guess what...more profits. Weird!
  2. Efficiency and Quality: Clear boundaries allow staff to focus on their core responsibilities, ensuring tasks are performed efficiently and to the highest standards.
  3. Team Harmony: In the high-stress environment of hospitality, respecting personal boundaries reduces friction and fosters a collaborative spirit. It reduces toxic competition and a Survivor-like mentality.
  4. Organizational Reputation: Hotels and restaurants that prioritize employee well-being often enjoy higher loyalty, positive reviews, and a reputation for excellence. Oh, and guess what, the talent pool pays attention to these things.

A Universal Truth: Boundaries Beyond Hospitality

While these insights are rooted in the hospitality world, they resonate with all industries and walks of life. Whether you're in tech, finance, healthcare, or any other sector, boundaries are crucial for personal well-being and professional excellence.

Embracing Boundaries in Service and Beyond

To my peers in hospitality and beyond: it's time to redefine service. True service excellence is not about stretching ourselves thin, but about serving from a place of balance and well-being. By setting and honoring boundaries, we not only elevate our service standards, but also champion a culture of respect, both for ourselves and for those we serve.

In the world of hospitality, where every detail matters, let's recognize that boundaries are not about saying "no" to our guests but saying "yes" to sustainable success, exceptional service, and personal well-being.

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Comments (2)

  1. Patrick A Yearout:
    Sep 02, 2023 at 09:56 AM

    Curt, how does one overcome the initial perception that setting boundaries might be seen as a lack of commitment by others on the team? Or how does a trainer (especially one who might not be at the top of the org chart) get this movement going at their company?

  2. Curtis Archambault:
    Sep 02, 2023 at 03:23 PM

    Great question Patrick! Grass roots can work but is not ideal. I think it is what is happening with the workforce now who are opting to not want to work for companies that need 110% from staff to be the entry. Sustainable change as you know starts at the top. Model the behaviors listed and encourage others to do the same. Don't reward those that sacrifice and work at a personal disadvantage for the benefit of the company. It is hard but not impossible. Be the spark and then find those first followers.