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Is There a Place for Unreasonable Hospitality in Real Estate? 

Customer Experience, Industry Experts,
Published: Mar 28, 2024
  by Editorial team
blog

This article was written by Anton Tonev, co-founder of Rexera, who talks about everything real estate-related and the impact of technology on the future of the industry.

In covering the future of real estate, last month, we talked about how it’s time the industry embraces its own Model T moment. A new way of operating that goes beyond fixing surface-level issues and dives into fundamentally transforming real estate workflows. Model T is about taking the best and most effective practices from other industries and applying them in real estate.

Ultimately, Model T is about freeing real estate professionals’ time so they can focus on the thing that will never get out of fashion—engaging with their customers and hearing what they truly need and want. 

Is Good Customer Service Overrated? 

Business leaders often talk about how the cornerstone of their business is customer service. We all like to say we offer the best, most responsive, reliable, and always available customer support. 

But what happens when everyone offers quality products supported by quality customer service? 

The expectation turns into the norm. 

Now, every company is expected to offer quality customer service and good products. It’s part of a package deal. Good customer service no longer impresses, quite the opposite, it gets easily forgotten. And that’s the last thing businesses want— to be easily forgotten. 

So what do we do to make sure our customers never forget about us? To convince them to return, happy to use our services again? To impress them so much that they turn into brand ambassadors? 

In exploring the topic, I went back to Will Guidara’s book “Unreasonable Hospitality”. In it, Guidara explains that to create memorable experiences and exceed customer expectations, businesses have to implement what he calls “unreasonable hospitality”. 

The concept of unreasonable hospitality extends beyond the standard customer service— it’s about delivering unique, personalized experiences that deeply resonate with customers, making them feel truly valued and special.

What’s the Deal with Unreasonable Hospitality? 

5 red houses on a wooden table mortgage payoff

Guidara points out that by focusing on the people — both employees and customers — businesses can elevate their service to a level that distinguishes them in their industry. This involves understanding and addressing individual needs, even when it seems time-consuming and inefficient.

The first step in implementing unreasonable hospitality is to pay careful attention to what people share, even in passing. Guidara gives an example of a situation where he overheard a group of customers at his Michelin-star restaurant,  Eleven Park Madison, feeling down about not having the chance to try street hot dogs. 

So, what did he do? He went and bought them two-dollar hotdogs and served them along with the gourmet dishes the clients were having at the restaurant. And that’s the second step to applying unreasonable hospitality in your business, going above and beyond to show your customers that you value them. 

Should You Apply Unreasonable Hospitality in Your Bussiness? 

unreasonable hospitality- Blog image for Anton Tonev's (Rexera Co-founder) LinkedIn Newsletter- while wall with greenary, sign saying we like you too

Unreasonable hospitality is about exceeding expectations in unexpected ways. It’s the kind of service that makes clients feel profoundly understood and valued, not just as customers but as individuals. In real estate, this could mean personalized house viewing experiences, tailored business advice, holiday cards, or unexpected support during stressful transactions.

To gain a full understanding of whether unreasonable hospitality has a place in your business strategy, let’s look at both its benefits and challenges. 

The Benefits of Unreasonable Hospitality for Real Estate Professionals

As a starter, unreasonable hospitality will help you enhance client relationships. By adopting this mindset, you create memorable experiences that foster strong, lasting relationships. From then onwards, creating these experiences for your clients will help you stand out and get people talking about your services. Being in an industry heavily influenced by referrals, positive word-of-mouth brings your brand’s reputation to the next level. More people get interested, and as long as you deliver equally exceptional service, unreasonable hosiptality snowballs into more business.

Considerations Before Implementing Unreasonable Hospitality 

Any strategic approach comes with its challenges. For unreasonable hospitality, those are resource allocation, authenticity, and scalability. 

When you evaluate whether implementing unreasonable hospitality is the way to go, think of the time, effort, and financial resources it will require. Is your business capable of sustaining the service long-term without compromising other areas? If not, perhaps you should put unreasonable hospitality on hold for now. 

The same goes for authenticity. Unreasonable hospitality should be genuine, and it should align with your brand values. Inauthentic gestures can be counterproductive. You can’t force hospitality, your clients will see right through you. 

Finally, you’ll need to consider scalability. As your business grows, you’ll need to evaluate whether you can keep offering unreasonable hospitality with the same frequency. Consistency is key. 

How to Implement Unreasonable Hospitality in Real Estate

a palm of hand holding key chain, hoa closing documents

To build on a personalized service (which unreasonable hospitality is all about), start by making a point to remember details about your clients and act on acknowledging them.  It can be as simple as asking about hobbies or personal preferences. 

Say your client enjoys a particular type of wine that is hard to get by. In being unreasonably hospitable you would try to find that specific type of wine and send a bottle to their office. You would invest a considerable resource in showing your client that you appreciate them. But more to that, you’ll demonstrate that you care enough to remember who these people truly are

Similarly, applying unreasonable hospitality would be to anticipate your client’s needs. Say you’re helping a client close on a property and quickly move into a new area with their family—they’ll probably be interested in good local schools for their kids. You can anticipate that need and send them a list even if they haven’t asked you for one.

Celebrating milestones is yet another way to apply unreasonable hospitality. Acknowledge personal milestones like birthdays or the anniversary of their home purchase. Your clients will not only appreciate the gesture but will be reminded of you, in case they’re looking for real estate advice, for instance. 

Finally, create feedback loops, where you regularly look for and act on client feedback to improve your service.

Unreasonable Hospitality Begins with Your Team 

Before you go and apply unreasonable hospitality with your clients, look internally. Be unreasonably hospitable to your team. Praise your colleagues on a job well done. Public appreciation boosts morale and shows respect for people’s hard work. At Rexera, for example, we love to celebrate the team’s wins, and every time we receive great feedback from customers, we share it in group chats to thank the people responsible for it. 

Unreasonable hospitality is a gesture of kindness. It has a profound emotional impact on the people who receive it. As Guidara himself says in the book: “People will forget what you do; they’ll forget what you said. But they’ll never forget how you made them feel.” 

For your team to care about going the extra mile in serving customers, you need to prioritize their well-being. Outstanding service is impossible without exceptional leadership.

How to Find Time to Apply Unreasonable Hospitality in Your Business? 

unreasonable hospitality- Blog image for Anton Tonev's (Rexera Co-founder) LinkedIn Newsletter- a hand holding a tiny mechanic clock, white color on white background

Unreasonable hospitality helps build relationships and create memorable moments that people cherish and share. This is how you can cultivate loyalty and transform casual customers into passionate supporters. 

I will be remiss, however,  if I don’t address the elephant in the room—time. While unreasonable hospitality is a great practice to apply, real estate businesses have a lot on their plate. 

In the chaos of chasing closing documents, clients’ back-and-forths, and impending deadlines, there’s rarely a chance to stop and dwell on how to improve your customers’ interactions even more. 

There’s a solution, and that’s technology. Innovative technologies like AI co-pilots can help us centralize workflows and turn tasks that heavily rely on manual work into streamlined processes. Innovation can give us back the time to invest in unreasonable hospitality. 

But what do you think? Is there a place for unreasonable hospitality in your business? 

Looking for more tips to differentiate your real estate business? Sign up for Rexera’s blog. We gather all important real estate insights in one place.

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