We Stopped for a Cold One…and Figured out What’s “Ale-ing” the Hospitality Business

Recently we were running around town with a friend, helping him finish some last-minute errands before he headed back to the UK. We decided, being a hot day, we should have a cold one and watch the final round of a golf tournament we’d been following. We popped into Beer Bistro, near Toronto’s Financial District. It’s a great spot, nicely appointed, with a great combination of bar, restaurant, and patio. But what really amazed and delighted us was the fantastic customer service experience we had. It wasn’t just that our server, Lauren, was friendly. She was authentically so (and not in that smarmy, “I’m your friend in anticipation of a great tip” way that seems to persist in some places, despite pubs, restaurants and cafés closing, hand-over-fist). Everyone else we met was affable as well, even if they didn’t seem to have anything in particular to gain. They just seemed to know what hospitality really means. There was more than niceness that made our experience really stellar, though. Lauren had fantastic product knowledge, which she shared enthusiastically, all while asking a few careful questions leading to excellent product recommendations that suited us to a “T”.

We know that servers aren’t usually highly-paid, and that tips are down everywhere. Yet here was someone who was willing to study, to learn everything she could about the products she was promoting and serving, and to find a way to turn that into a recommendation that would make the customer happy. She was affable, competent, and confident. And she never once gave the impression that she had better things to do than to provide us with some amazing beers to try, and share a bit of conversation. All of that added up to a tremendous customer experience.

So hats off to Beer Bistro, and if you’re in the hospitality industry and looking for ways to make customers come, stay, and spend more money, just follow Lauren’s example.

  1. Make people comfortable and let them know you’re glad they’re there.
  2. Know your product inside out, but more importantly, think about the connections between each product and the kind of person who might like it.
  3. Ask customers about themselves, really listen, and offer them something that really reflects their interests and tastes.


Megann & Steve


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