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Hospitality Definition: What Does Hospitality Mean?

Scott Schulfer
Table of Contents
bar inventory software


Please, have a seat. Stay a while. Make yourself comfortable.

It sure is nice having you here.

The above is what hospitality is! On an individual level, it’s being nice and welcoming. Maybe while mixing up some easy spring cocktails for your friends. Assuming you know how to stock a home bar, that is.

But at a commercial level, well, it’s a whole industry with segments and subsegments.

Let’s look into it!

Hospitality Meaning: What Is Hospitality?

Hospitality means the “friendly and generous reception and entertainment of guests, visitors, or strangers,” according to the Oxford Dictionary.

Some examples of individual hospitality include inviting someone in your home for a drink or a meal, making sure your visitors are comfortable, giving gifts, expressing regard, and offering help or guidance.

And when hospitality is monetized, it’s called the hospitality industry.

Hospitality Industry: What Is It?

The hospitality industry is made up of a collection of fields within the service industry that focus on leisure. There are four primary segments of the hospitality industry: food and beverage, lodging, recreation, and travel.

Food and Beverage

The food and beverage segment of the hospitality industry is its own massive industry. It’s the largest segment of the hospitality industry and consists of bars, restaurants, food trucks, food carts, tasting rooms (like at vineyards: see the wine industry growth rate), and more.

It consists of any business that sells food or drink that’s meant to be consumed either on- or off-premise. That includes parts of other businesses, too. Like the concessions in a movie theater or the dining options in a stadium or hotel.

Lodging and Hotels

This segment consists of any location designed to accommodate a guest for one or more night’s rest. Hotels, motels, hostels, campgrounds, RV parks, bed and breakfasts, AirBNBs, etc.

Recreation and Amusement

This segment includes any business that provides enjoyment or leisure. Great examples include zoos, amusement parks, sporting events, casinos, concerts, art galleries, and museums.

Many also consider the relaxation industry a part of subsection this segment, which includes spas, massage studios, and other wellness-related services.

Travel and Tourism

Travel and tourism are services involved with the movement of people and the exploration of place. This includes trains, planes, cars, buses, cruise ships, and cabs, along with tours and places of interest.

The travel and tourism sector targets both leisure and business travelers, i.e. those who travel for play and those who travel for work.

There is a lot of synergy between this sector and other sectors. Travelers spend a lot of money on all the other hospitality segments.

United States Department of Labor Hospitality Definition

The U.S. Department of Labor uses a Labor Standard Industrial Classification system to categorize industry. Here’s what they include in the two largest sectors of the hospitality industry.

Lodging: Hotels, motels, auto and tourist courts, bed and breakfasts, cabins, cottages, hostels, casino hotels, inns, resorts, lodges, and ski lodges.

Food and beverage: restaurants, automats, beaneries, buffets, cafes, lunch stands, cafeterias, caterers, coffee shops, canteens, concession stands, prepared food restaurant operations, dairy bars, diners, contract feeding, dining rooms, food bars, dinner theaters, frozen custard stands, hamburger stands, grills, hot dog stands, ice cream stands, industrial feeding, lunch bars, lunch counters, lunchrooms, luncheonettes, oyster bars, pizzerias and pizza parlors, sandwich shops and stands, tearooms, snack shops, soft drink stands, submarine sandwich shops, ramen shops, and sushi bars.

Hospitality Trends 2020: Trends In Hospitality Industry

Let’s take a look at nine trends that shook up 2020 hospitality. Three for food and beverage, three for lodging, and three for overall tech.

Food and Beverage Trends In Hospitality Industry


Restaurant cleanliness was already paramount for diners when deciding where to spend their time and money. A pre-COVID-19 study found that 75% of people stay away from bars and restaurants with negative reviews about cleanliness. It was already a high number, and in no universe has it gone down.

Studies also find that paper restaurant menus are the single filthiest thing on a restaurant table. For that reason, the National Restaurant Association recommends that paper menus be discarded after each use. People are aware of restaurants’ cleanliness and the grim place physical menus hold in that context.

According to Professor Cihan Cobanoglu, director of the M3 Center for Hospitality & Innovation at the University of South Florida, “contactless menus will be a key point for restaurants to adopt.” To both keep businesses as clean and safe as possible and align with consumer expectations. 

In other words, stay as clean as possible and go contactless where you can.

Image-Worthiness of Menu Items

The presentation of menu items has an outsized impact today. Sharing pictures of food via social media—especially Instagram—is a game changer. 

In fact, HuffPost reported in 2017 that 69% of millennials take pictures of their food before eating it. That number is almost certainly higher for the more digitally-native Generation Z.

Getting your beautifully-plated items floating around Instagram is the new word of mouth. But it’s even better: it’s a reference from a friend with high-quality imagery.

Food Tribes

A food tribe is a community based on foods they eat or don’t eat. Vegan, paleo, and keto are all examples of food tribes. Many in the industry see food tribes not only as influencers but as cultural bellwethers. As goes the subcultures, so goes the mainstream.

Catering to food tribes is a great way to generate very high-value word of mouth among a very sales-ready community.

Hotel and Lodging Hospitality Issues and Trends


Conservation is an important and relatively low-hanging fruit for many hotels. Here are some ways hotels are prioritizing sustainability:

  • Water conservation initiatives like installing low-flow shower heads and faucets, using filtered-water dispensers instead of bottled water, and re-use programs to curb laundry.
  • Limiting the amount of bath amenities used by installing dispensers instead of individual shampoo, soap, and conditioner bottles.
  • Using biodegradable materials for room keys like wood, paper, and bioplastic.
  • Using ethically-sourced and -grown coffee beans in-room and elsewhere.

Health and Wellbeing

Hotels are increasingly integrating health and wellness initiatives. Things like healthy vending machines, the availability of juice and juice bars, yoga sessions, and aromatherapy solutions are all keeping wellness-focused visitors impressed.

Destination Promotion

Like Insta-worthy menu items, hotels are finding a similar approach works well. Destination promotion is marketing the neighborhood, city, country, or area your hotel is in as an Insta-worthy destination. It’s different from typical hotel or restaurant marketing. It’s a type of marketing that reaches out beyond the four walls of your physical hotel and pitches the entire travel experience as something that would look fantastic in a slideshow of pictures.

Hospitality Technology Trends

There’s more to restaurant technology than restaurant and bar POS systems! Check out some of these neat trends.

QR Codes

QR codes are the centerpiece of hygienic, contactless menus. But they’re also part of creating an overall seamless end-to-end experience in hospitality.

Here’s how that works:

  • Use a QR code to scan and view a menu
  • Place your order by building it in the digital menu and generating a QR code for a server to scan
  • Pay by scanning a QR code

A QR code menu can be used to turn food and beverage experiences almost entirely contactless.

Social Media Customer Support

Around 86% of diners read online restaurant reviews. When you get a bad review, it can have a quick and substantial impact. That’s why being active on social media or review sites is how to improve customer satisfaction in the restaurant industry.

If you’re able to respond and put out social media fires, you’ll not only stop the spread of negative feedback, but you’ll potentially win over the negative reviewer

Seamless Check-In

QR codes can help with check-in, too. During booking, hotels provide each guest with a QR code to show at check-in. That turns check-in into a single scan instead of what sometimes feels like a car rental process.

Understanding the meaning of hospitality—and the many ways hospitality shows up in commerce—can help businesses become their most hospitable selves.

One sure-fire way to make sure your bar or restaurant runs smoothly and delivers a great customer experience is with BinWise

BinWise helps bars and restaurants across the world go from food service to true hospitality with a seamless bar inventory software platform. By using a perpetual inventory system, bars and restaurants ensure needed inventory is ever-present and shifts run smoothly.

bar inventory software