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Consumer Trends

What retailers can learn from the restaurant business

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Retailers at the Annual Retail Industry Luncheon got a treat this week when Danny Meyer, CEO of Union Square Hospitality Group, shared some insights from the restaurant world. 

Restaurateur Danny Meyer discusses hospitality at Retail's BIG Show 2012.

Even if you’re the absolute best at doing what your business is supposed to do, Meyer said, your customers will only give you 49 points out of a 100. You can earn the other 51 points with only one thing—good hospitality. Both restaurateurs and retailers can't succeed without doing a good job of making their customers feel good. Your steak might be great, but people can get a great steak in lots of places. They go back to Meyer's establishments because of how they are made to feel. Hospitality is an intangible thing that’s tricky to explain. Meyer describes it as making the customer feel like you’re on their side. The concept is also a difficult one to execute because hospitality is one size fits one. You have to read your customers' minds. The key to getting it right is building a team that has incredibly high emotional skills - a collection of specific traits that contribute to what Meyer calls a "Hospitality Quotient." Like a high IQ: You have it or you don't. "You can’t teach hospitality," Danny said. "It means they’re someone who’s at their happiest when they're making someone else feel good." Retailers today are all about the customer experience, but all the technologies and tools on the EXPO floor won’t help you win if you don't have the right people and culture. "For those who are looking for the most powerful differentiator in terms of creating an experience…you have to stock your store not just with the best stuff, but the people who live for making other people happy," Meyer said.