Ep 05 | Unreasonable Hospitality Book Takeaways + Measured Generosity

I’ll start with a quote from the book, Unreasonable Hospitality, The Remarkable Power of Giving People More Than They Expect by Will Guidara. 

“In Setting the Table, Danny Meyer’s groundbreaking book about enlightened hospitality, he tells a story about a couple celebrating their anniversary at one of his restaurants. Midway through their meal, they remember they’ve left a bottle of champagne in the freezer. They call the sommelier over to ask if it’s likely to explode before they get home (almost certainly yes). The sommelier saves the day by taking their keys and rescuing the bottle, so the couple can relax and finish their celebratory meal. When they arrive home, they find the champagne safely tucked into their fridge, along with a tin of caviar, a box of chocolates, and an anniversary card from the restaurant.”

Will Guidara, Unreasonable Hospitality, The Remarkable Power of Giving People More Than They Expect

This is the story of how he transformed Eleven Madison Park into the best restaurant in the world by reinventing how they offered hospitality… and making those little things they do into big things – making their personal touches unreasonable.

But it’s not just about the restaurant or hospitality industry, it’s about all about how he learned the power of going above and beyond, and is filled with incredible and super inspiring stories and examples along the way.

I LOVED this book. It’s one of my favorite business books I’ve read in awhile. Let’s get into it some lessons we learned from it!

1 – The 95/5 Rule

“This is what I would later call the Rule of 95/5: Manage 95 percent of your business down to the penny; spend the last 5 percent “foolishly. It sounds irresponsible; in fact, it’s anything but. Because that last 5 percent has an outsize impact on the guest experience, it’s some of the smartest money you’ll ever spend.”

Will Guidara, Unreasonable Hospitality, The Remarkable Power of Giving People More Than They Expect

We’ve been calling this Measured Generosity.

2 – There’s no more powerful incentive to give great hospitality than to be on the receiving end of it.

We thought back to stories of how we’ve received incredible customer service and how those moments made us feel.

These experiences all left us with a feeling of, you did not have to do that! But what an honoring thing to be recipients of it. It made us want to be like that in our business.

3 – Treasure hunt for strengths

A leader’s responsibility is to identify the strengths of the people on their team, no matter how buried those strengths might be. 

Whether criticism or praise, it’s a leader’s job to give their team feedback all the time. But every person on the team should be hearing more about what they did well than what they could do better, or they’re going to feel deflated and unmotivated. And if you can’t find more compliments to deliver than criticism, that’s a failure in leadership-either you’re not coaching the person sufficiently, or you’ve tried and it’s not working, which means they should no longer be on the team.

These rules help your team/family to feel safe-especially if you practice them consistently.

4 – Systems: the way you do one thing is the way you do everything

I, Kelly, am a totally business book junkie. Ray reads maybe a handful each year, I cannot get enough of them. So when we start talking systems, it’s like my actual love language, haha!

Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs)
Our favorite CRM: Dubsado

5 – TAKEAWAY TIPS // how we personally implement this in our business

  • Surprise and Delight
    • Budget it in – we give back about 5% of what our couples package pricing is in literal gifts of tangible value, welcome chocolate, coffee gift cards, restaurant gift cards, and other things.
    • Who doesn’t love receiving a surprise gift in the mail?
  • Give time and attention to each client to really get to know them as fellow humans.
    • Create systems that allow you to personalize things along the way within your workflow
    • We do this through detailed questionnaires, video calls, and taking a portion of the start of every wedding day or job to just listen + observe.
    • You can’t care for someone’s needs if you don’t know what they are.
  • Stay humble.
    • When you view your job as a service to others, it’s much easier to just help serve wherever it’s most needed:
    • Two stories about Ray from weddings that stand out to me –
      1. Ray walking to a Walgreens on the Square in Madison to buy a Tide Stick for a bridesmaid who had a dress stain emergency
      2. Ray hiking across an outdoor venue with a big bag of ice over his shoulder to help the couple’s family finish set-up in time for guests to start arriving
  • Ask for feedback
    • This is never fun is it? We really appreciate getting feedback, but sometimes it’s hard. It’s hard to receive criticism 
    • Another quote from the book, “The day you stop reading your criticism is the day you grow complacent, and irrelevance won’t be far behind. What criticism offers you is an invitation to have your perspective challenged, or at least to grow by truly considering it.”
    • We’re often TOO CLOSE to ourselves, feedback allows for us to gain a perspective
      • We send surveys to couples who didn’t book with us
      • As well as with couples who went through our entire client experience


I loved this book, and if you want to gain even more of a desire to read it,  go listen to this podcast where Donald Miller interviews the author – Ray listened to that one and LOVED the stories in it. Here’s the link.

Let your energy impact the people you’re talking to, as opposed to the other way around.

Will Guidara, Unreasonable Hospitality, The Remarkable Power of Giving People More Than They Expect

If you have any questions or thoughts, we’d love to hear from you! You can email us at podcast@rayandkelly.co

Podcast, Systems/Workflow