top of page

Can The 95/5 Rule of Unreasonable Hospitality Help Your Hotel?

Jon Sholter


Today, in less than 3 minutes, we are going to cover the following: The 95/5 Rule.


Unreasonable Hospitality by Will Guidara has circled our industry.

This book gives an inside look into the author's experience running restaurants and how he and his team turned Eleven Madison Park into a fine-dining juggernaut.

Needless to say, Unreasonable Hospitality is highly recommended.

Unreasonable Hospitality

Unreasonable Hospitality comes with a lot of management principles at hand.

You'll recognize many of them upon reading; however, the author also offers twists on classic principles and novel ones of his own.

One of my favourites is the rule of 95/5.

The idea is to manage 95% of your business down to the penny (anyone who runs a restaurant especially will appreciate how necessary this is), but leave the last 5% of our business room to spend foolishly.

Foolishly! What does that mean?

Will Guidara explains that using 5% to spend directly on the guest/employee experience in an abnormal, exuberant, memorable way will have outsized benefits to your organization.

Moments Matter

We have spoken before about the importance of moments in the guest journey. Peak moments, both good and bad, make an everlasting impact on how guests remember and perceive you, leading to either amazing or devastating word of mouth.

This idea of 95/5 expands on this thought.

If used properly, the author essentially says that this 5% will create these peak (positive) moments, creating a flywheel as service experiences like this ultimately lead to positive marketing generation.

So, how can we apply this to our industry?

I would be lying if I said we have implemented this firsthand. However, a few concepts came to mind when reflecting on this concept.

Wholistic Industry Thought:

Flagged hotels have continuously competed in saturated initiatives. Take loyalty programs, for example. To any operator, look at how much money you spend monthly on loyalty reward points.

Despite this spending, there is very little differentiation between these programs. This is a major opportunity for private, non-flagged properties. While the big guys are dishing out a ton to stuff these programs, you could use this money to differentiate yourself memorably.

This or That:

When examining expenses, it can be helpful to consider line items from a this or that perspective. How much does that specific line item increase the guest experience? Cutting back on some slightly better-than-average amenities might give you the pocket change needed to splurge on that one amenity that makes an impact.

Again, ruthlessly controlling 95% of your expenses so you have room for that 5%.

Physical Product or Service Spend:

When evaluating the 95/5 ideology, it is easy to think of something physical to offer the guest. However, investing in creating a specific labour category to amplify the guest experience might be another tactic. If you were to do so, you'd have to ensure the labour addition had strict confines to elevate an aspect of the guest journey dramatically. Simply throwing another server in at breakfast or another room inspector in housekeeping will not give you the answer.

Eleven Madison Park actually created a team called "dream weavers," who were responsible for helping members of the team come up with extraordinary gestures of hospitality.

Unreasonable Hospitality

The purpose of this article is less to provide answers and more to encourage us to ask ourselves questions.

We are in the hospitality business to make someone else's day better. This can get lost in the daily grind or when our jobs become a bit more corporate. Reorienting ourselves towards this simple purpose is powerful.

"The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others." -Mahatma Gandhi


Whenever you’re ready, there are 4 ways we can help you:

​​High Impact Coaching It's lonely at the top. Ensure your leaders obtain the skills that brands and traditional hospitality training don't teach.

Supercharged Consulting With an ROI guarantee, our programs are more than fluff.

Hotel Executive Program Tie it all together with ongoing support for your hotel without the overhead of a 3rd party management company.

Hotel Photography Are you opening a new hotel or going through a renovation? Our hotel-only photography service will make your property shine.


bottom of page