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  • Writer's pictureStephan Busch

Service - We forgot what it is! Some never knew it! Soon we will doubt that it ever existed!

originaly posted March 8, 2019

Good service will leave no bones behind

Hotels and restaurants are happy when they find someone who get the plates to the table anyway possible. Funny to observe for amateurs – heart-breaking for professionals. But the pros are anyway on the way of extinction like the dinosaurs. Good service will not even leave bones behind.

Traditional service

The traditional European service is still described in some service books. Students read this stories and imagine Gandalf eating in a hall full of candelabras served by hobbits. It is a fantasy. There are still some places where to find it ( not Gandalfs cave!). But the guest who can enjoy the art of service are getting less and are on the same brink of extinctions like the pros that can serve it. Also they will leave no bones.

Three worlds that serve

The traditional European service, the Eastern – former communist countries – service and the Asian service. Three worlds of service. American service? Sorry that’s a dessert for traditional service and always was. The big “S” in America doesn’t stand for service. It means “Sales” Australia? Well – before I say something wrong – go there.

Asian service

A rich culture of different service styles that was established through centuries and is kept alive in many places. Thai service, Japanese and Chinese service traditions are all offering table service of many different styles and lead to ceremonies that are taught for generations to come.

European Traditional service

Also here we had great styles, ceremonies and culture. You can hardly find traces of it anymore. Europe followed the American way and opted for cheap labour and constantly changing staff that don’t know anything which they could teach future generations.

Eastern – former communist countries – service

What? Right! Seventy years of communism didn’t allow for service. No bones to be found. Unlocking the shop door during opening hours is already considered service. Now that communism is over those countries look to Europe to learn about service. Unfortunately we forgot to maintain this so what there is to learn results in lousy service again.

If people want to learn service they might go to a great hotel. They will find a cheap waiter ( actually it’s a student in uniform) who gets directions from a 23 years old headwaiter who most of the time doesn’t know where his head is. This is orchestrated by an 29 year old “F&B Manager of the year” who – after his chain awarded him the title – goggled to find out what F&B means ( lucky – nothing to do with service). They all fill out spread sheets and moving higher up can occupy one corner table in the restaurant or at the bar where the spread their spread sheets. They all go to trainings where they learn to exceed guest expectations. That works well as guest do not expect or ever experienced service before.


Service is when there are towels in the bathroom and the waiter really opens the cola bottle for you at the table. As Restaurant managers never learned where to put the fork it is placed in a cute bamboo cup in the middle of the table. This also ensures that it has been touched multiple times before you use it. We forgot what a butter knife is for and are proud to be able to use chopsticks. Hamburgers are everywhere and are eaten by hand. Stylish!

The real service professionals turn to self service. At least here they are served perfectly, don’t have to hide their tears when observing students and forget the world. When they drop dead they won’t leave bones behind. KFC and MacDonald’s – where service is of the same quality as the product - have won.

Author: Stephan Busch, Academic Director at the State University for the Humanities Moscow RGGU, Faculty of Tourism & Hospitality earned his Master Certificate in Hospitality Management from Cornell University, USA.

Stephan Busch has an invaluable and diverse experience in launching operations, business development and service training- for hotel and cruise companies in Asia, Europe, Canada and Russia.,

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