The 25 best books about hotels and the hospitality industry

In this article, I’ll give you my top 5 favorite books about hotels – and then 20 more books that will help you succeed as a hospitality professional. I’ve read more than 200 books about hotels and hospitality as I’ve worked with tens of thousands of hotels around the world and wanted to share the best.

First, I’ll give you the entire list – and then if you scroll down I’ll share what I liked about each one and why you may enjoy it as well.

Top 5 hotel books

The best books about hotels give you the history and inspiration for what exceptional hospitality can look like. Here are my top 5:

Grand Hotel by Bruce Grenville and Jennifer Volland

Grand Hotel book

It helps to know the history of hotels to create what the future can look like, and I appreciated learning details of the stories of how the hospitality industry has evolved over time. 

This is an exceptionally well-researched and curated guide to hotels, their history, and what they can offer. I scanned this book very quickly at first to understand the contents, and then again very slowly to savor it. It’s become my favorite hotel book. 

Grand Hotel Book

How the publisher describes this book: From the hotel’s origin in humble inns dotted along ancient trade routes, to today’s worldwide Hilton and Hyatt networks, the concept of the hotel has come a very long way indeed. We now talk about boutique hotels and resort hotels, places that connote a relatively new lifestyle of perpetual leisure and transience, and as the role of the hotel has expanded, so too have architects and interior designers risen to the challenge, producing ever more spectacular structures. Today, the largest hotel in the world–the First World Hotel in Malaysia–boasts 6,118 rooms, and the tallest hotel–the Ritz-Carlton Hong Kong–sits at the top of the 1,600-foot-high International Commerce Center. Grand Hotel is the most ambitious book on the subject yet published. Its scope is global and trans-historical: a tiny sampling of hotels featured includes the Dolder Grand Hotel and Curhaus in Zurich; SLS Bazaar in Beverly Hills; the Ace Hotel in New York; Fontainebleau Hotel in Miami Beach; and the Lloyd Hotel and Cultural Embassy in Amsterdam. With 350 color illustrations, it includes extended blog entries, newly commissioned essays, and interviews, plus reprints and excerpts from classic texts on the topic.

A few quotes that stood out to me from reading this

  • The hotel is a universal and identifiable symbol, and yet the diversity and individuality of its form and purpose are extraordinary. It is a space that uniquely combines the private and public realms and it is intimately connected to a rich history of social and cultural change.
  • From utilitarian inns that punctuated ancient trade routes to the worldwide networks of Hilton and Hyatt, the hotel’s transition from being a marginal building type to being a cultural phenomenon within the global economy.
  • The hotel may be imagined as a living system. It comprises a complex network of rooms each designed for a specific function that are discrete yet interconnected.

What other readers have said about this book:

  • Fascinating…. stunning imagery of international hotel architecture and design, as well as artists’ interpretations of the hotel experience. (Marsha Lederman The Globe and Mail)
  • “‘Hotel’ can mean many things, each of them with aspects of art, architecture, living space, and interaction. This is a collection of diverse short works.” – Robert on
  • “Grand Hotel, Redesigning Modern Life captures the essence of our attraction to hotels, our desire to live through the contradictions of consumer capitalism. The essays and pictures in the collection reflect back to us not only our desire to indulge in a luxurious escape but also to be managed within certain boundaries of class and racial identity. Anyone interested in travel and design will love this book, but the cultural studies fan has to read it!” – Michele on

The Monocle Guide to Hotels

The Monocle Guide to Hotels

Split into three sections – favorite hotels, articles from industry practitioners, and profiles of hoteliers – this book takes the editorial viewpoint and creative style I appreciate so much from Monocle. I love how they feature stories from not only CEOs (Sonia Cheng at Rosewood) but lift operators (Ociric Beato at The Carlyle) and swim instructors (Pierre Gruneberg at Grand-Hotel du Cap-Ferrat).

How the publisher describes this book: This is a handbook for anyone from holidaymakers to hoteliers. We jump up and down on a few choice beds, check out the start-ups breaking new ground, and talk to the CEOs of the best and biggest groups. Don’t expect stuffy five-star finery – our selection errs on the side of the honest, charming, quirky, and independent. Through interviews, in-depth reports, essays, insight, and opinion, we explore the state of the hospitality industry and make a case for why hotels are resolutely here to stay.

A page from The Monocle Guide to Hotels

A few quotes that stood out to me from reading this

  • “Sleek platforms and apps promise hospitality, humanity, and convenience but often miss the smile on arrival, a humming bar, and the help with bags that can gladden the weariest of travelers.”
  • “Great hotels are a puzzle, partly because what makes them great is hard to fathom but also because the big picture is made up of hundreds of small but essential pieces.”
  • “There’s more to hotels than a bed for the night. The best ones embellish the cities in which they reside and bear witness to life, love, and even war.”

What other readers have said about this book:

  • “I will have this book for the rest of my life. It lit a fire within and I found inspiration on every single page.” – Kait on
  • “This book is wonderful! You can spend hours browsing it. It also includes valuable tips on what it takes to open your own hotel.” – Chloe on

The New Gold Standard by Joseph Michelli

Not every hotel is trying to be like a Ritz Carlton, but every hotelier will agree the company has set standards in hospitality that everyone can learn from. This book is an eye-opening look into the history and current operating practices that ensure the company delivers the incredible service it does.

How the publisher describes this book: When it comes to refined service and exquisite hospitality, one name stands high above the rest: The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company. With ceaseless attention to every luxurious detail, the company has set the bar for creating memorable customer experiences in world-class settings. Now, for the first time, the leadership secrets behind the company’s extraordinary success are revealed. The New Gold Standard takes you on an exclusive tour behind the scenes of The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company. Granted unprecedented access to the company’s executives, staff, and its award-winning Leadership Center training facilities, bestselling author Joseph Michelli explored every level of leadership within the organization. He emerged with the key principles leaders at any company can use to provide a customer experience unlike any other.

A few quotes that stood out to me from reading this

  • “The New Gold Standard is primarily intended to help managers, owners, and leaders understand the driving principles, processes, and practices that have generated unusual staff loyalty, world-class customer engagement, and significant brand equity for Ritz-Carlton. However, it also provides perspective on those same principles from the viewpoint of frontline workers (both customer-facing and non–customer facing), customers, and other stakeholders. Whether you wish to attract, hire, and retain the “right” employees, are interested in producing transformational customer experiences, or are looking for ways to maintain the relevance of your product and service offerings, The New Gold Standard shares the wisdom of Ritz-Carlton leadership. Ritz-Carlton leaders are responsible for stewarding an icon in the luxury market, through a constant quest for excellence, to continue its success in a changing global economy and with changing customer needs.”
  • As you study a legendary company such as Ritz-Carlton, it becomes clear that being an industry leader and a standard-bearer for customer service did not happen by default or come without risk. In fact, the early founders of the company established a lasting legacy by developing a distinct set of guiding concepts, which they called “Gold Standards.” These standards continue to serve as the basis for the ongoing and international success of Ritz-Carlton.
  • At first glance, The Motto of the Ritz-Carlton, “Ladies and Gentlemen serving Ladies and Gentlemen” may appear overly staid and outdated, lacking refinements to make it relevant to a modern workforce. Yet packed into its formal language is a clear understanding of the relationship between, and implicit respect for, both the employee and guest.
  • By not confusing title with importance, leadership at Ritz-Carlton understands that creating an environment of respect universally results in a respectful service culture and being viewed as an international employer of choice.

What other readers have said about this book:

  • “If you really want to understand what it takes to deliver consistently superior customer service The New Gold Standard is superb. Great ideas and tools, motivating stories and rigorous research.” – John on
  • “If you are a Hotel owner, you will get some excellent ideas from this, and if you are someone in the service industry you’ll be able to understand how customer service can be taken a notch above.” – customer
  • “As someone in the hospitality business, I am always trying to find a way to improve service and to understand the service industry better. This book offers some brilliant insight and offers a stellar example of how to create a culture in my business of excellent service while keeping everyone happy. It is a shining example of how to instill pride into team members and how to set the bar for amazing customer satisfaction. I definitely learned much from this book!” – customer

Heart of Hospitality by Micah Solomon

Micah Solomon expertly weaves together insights from interviews with operations leaders across our industry.

How the publisher describes this book: Success in today’s rapidly changing hospitality industry depends on understanding the desires of guests of all ages, from seniors and boomers to the newly dominant millennial generation of travelers. Help has arrived with a compulsively-readable new standard, The Heart of Hospitality: Great Hotel and Restaurant Leaders Share Their Secrets by Micah Solomon, with a foreword by The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company’s president and COO Herve Humler. This up-to-the-minute resource delivers the closely guarded customer experience secrets and on-trend customer service insights of today’s top hoteliers, restaurateurs, and masters of hospitality management.

A few quotes that stood out to me from reading this

  • Before opening a single Apple Store to the public, [Steve Jobs] made his rounds among the employees at Apple headquarters in Cupertino, asking a single question, over and over: “What’s the best experience you’ve ever had as a customer?” Nearly every answer he got back was that the best customer experiences in the world were taking place at Ritz-Carlton hotels, Four Seasons resorts, and other exemplars of the hospitality industry. These responses convinced Jobs to insist that those involved in the creation of the Apple Stores study, benchmark, and emulate the hospitality industry.
  • Customers are always giving you cues that are specific to that customer, and you have to be paying attention, every single time. Customers want you to be a “participant observer,” someone who will share the experience with them. They want someone else to know the significance of the experience. They’re often looking for someone with whom they can faithfully share information, and if they ever sense that you’re uninterested or too busy, they won’t.
  • Energizing and empowering employees to engage in purpose-driven, cross-functional behavior is an incredibly important part of great hospitality. If you focus your employees only on their directly assigned functions—cleaning a particular room, for example—you’re not only doing a disservice to your guests, but you’re wasting your employees’ human potential.

What other readers have said about this book:

  • “Micah Solomon is one of today’s preeminent thought leaders on where hospitality, customer service, and customers themselves are heading. In The Heart of Hospitality, Micah has put together the only book of its kind: a spectacularly useful, intelligent, and wry look at what determines success in the hospitality industry, packed throughout with his own insights and the insights of an extraordinary roster of great leaders and practitioners from our industry today.” – Herve Humler, President and COO, The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company
  • “It’s ironic, but many people and organizations in our industry fail because they lack knowledge and insight for how to provide true hospitality, how to truly care for the guest. That’s why The Heart of Hospitality is so important. It steps in to fill this gap. And it fills it with knowledge from the very best.” – Bill Quiseng, Hospitality-industry GM (Radisson, Renaissance, Autograph Collection)
  • “Sooner or later, we’re all in the hospitality business. I bet you’ll find that Chapter 8 alone is worth the cost of the book.” – Seth Godin, Author, What To Do When It’s Your Turn

Magazine B: Ace Hotel

Magazine B: Ace Hotel Book

Not technically a book, but Magazine B creates beautifully curated long-form magazines that look like a book. Suyong Joh and his team do a phenomenal job of telling the stories of the world’s best brands and reading this issue transported me back to the early days of Ace Hotel and the energy that has inspired so many other hotels and hoteliers since then.

A few quotes that stood out to me from reading this: 

  • Most hotels with exceptionally strong identities seem focused on being small-scale and high fashion. But Ace Hotel did not follow the commercial standard for luxury. Tell him to create a comfortable relaxing space for people sensitive to culture and trends.
  • Behind the brand’s unique individuality lies considerable business acumen. It’s built on diversity and depth through collaborations with other like-minded brands – a move that conveys something more than a shared vision among a small group of people.
  • Brand collaborations enable Ace to constantly reinforce the brand sensibilities in the minds of consumers while avoiding repetition.

Those are my top five books about hotels and hotel life, but I have more suggestions for you…

Books that will make you a more effective hospitality professional

If you’re looking for books that will help you succeed working in or around hotels today, here are my recommendations:

Excellence Wins by Horst Schulze

Ritz Carlton has become synonymous with excellence in service, and regardless of what type of hospitality you want to provide, you’ll be able to learn a thing or two from this book. Thanks to Adele Gutman for recommending this one to me!

How the publisher describes this book: Horst Schulze knows what it takes to win. In Excellence Wins, the cofounder and former president of the Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company lays out a blueprint for becoming the very best in a world of compromise. In his characteristic no-nonsense approach, Schulze shares the visionary and disruptive principles that have led to immense global success over the course of his still-prolific fifty-year career in the hospitality industry.

A few quotes that stood out to me from reading this

  • “What the customer wants seems like common knowledge. It’s easy to come up with a quick answer. But that answer barely scratches the surface of what the public is actually looking for. If you don’t dig deeper, you will miss important signals.”
  • “You must be careful to watch for trends over a period of time rather than simply reacting to individual gripes (again, a “survey of one”).”
  • “Real knowledge of the customer is absolutely essential. Without it, you cannot serve your market in a way that is superior to the competition.”
  • “Customer service starts the instant you make contact with an individual.”
  • “After analyzing hundreds of thousands of comment cards over the years (with the help of the esteemed J.D. Power research firm), I learned that if a customer’s first four contacts with our hotel go well (for example, the phone reservation clerk, the doorman, the bellman, and the front desk), there will be virtually no complaints thereafter. But if something goes amiss in the beginning, the complaints will sprout quickly: “The check-in was too slow.” “The room wasn’t clean enough.” “The food was too cold.” And on and on it goes. Some of these complaints may not even be true. But the mood was set at the start.”

What other readers have said about this book:

  • “The author achieved something rare – a business book that was all substance – written as if you were having coffee with a special mentor. Every page is marked up!” – Michael on
  • “The author developed a great definition of hospitality as a young man: ladies and gentlemen serving ladies and gentlemen. While the terminology may evolve over time, the core idea is very sound. All of his subsequent customer service policies are based on that core idea, which is one big reason he’s been so successful in his career as a hotelier. His belief in empowering employees to improve their standard of service is similarly rock solid, and it shows.” – Susan on

Future Hospitality by Jeremy Wells

Jeremy has worked alongside some of the best hospitality brands in the world and shares his learnings for providing exceptional hospitality in this must-read book.

How the publisher describes this book: In its purest sense, true hospitality is a mindset, not an industry. The purpose of this book is to help you understand the significance of making people feel good, and how the principles of strategic brand development can dramatically influence how you go about doing it.

A few quotes that stood out to me from reading this

  • Meeting expectations is important, but just meeting expectations isn’t enough to get a customer for life. Aiming for met expectations isn’t a recipe for a loyal customer advocate who will share your brand with every family, friend, and stranger they meet. Average, and even above average, food and service aren’t enough anymore.
  • To create a great guest experience – one that’s worth remembering – it requires a connection to the heart. This is because humans are emotional beings, whether we like to admit it or not. When we experience joy, peace, warmth, and love we feel seen and heard. When we are seen and heard, it feels good. When we feel good, we remember that.
  • Hospitality has survived through world wars, devastating famines, cultural awakenings, great depressions, and government collapses. Yet, despite all of that, hospitality is alive and well. How can that be? I think it’s because we are hard-wired to desire healthy human connection – hospitality.

Be Our Guest by Theodore Kinni

Few know how to transform reality better than Disney, and this book goes behind the scenes to show how they do it.

How the publisher describes this book: Exceeding expectations rather than simply satisfying them is the cornerstone of the Disney approach to customer service. Be Our Guest specializes in helping professionals see new possibilities through concepts not found in the typical workplace, revealing even more of the business behind the magic of quality service.

A few quotes that stood out to me from reading this

  • “Walt’s fundamentals for success still ring true. You build the best product you can. You give people effective training to support the delivery of exceptional service. You learn from your experiences. And you celebrate success. You never stop growing. You never stop believing.“
  • “Our guests want to be amazed, delighted, and entertained,” says Bob Iger. “They are looking for the kind of magic that will transport them from their everyday lives into worlds that can only be created by Disney.”
  • Often, employees are on the front lines, face-to-face with customers. And even when they are not in direct contact with customers, they are controlling the operation of the processes by which service is delivered. For example, the Disney theme parks have been measuring the impact of cast on the guest experience for more than fifty years. What is one of the most-often stated reasons why guests return for another visit? The cast.

What other readers have said about this book:

  • “Throughout this book, the author speaks about the art of Disney and how they (as a whole) deliver excellent customer service, how they succeed in making such a huge profit, and how they have become one of the most well-known businesses in the world. The whole book focuses on customer-centricity and how Disney uses “magic” to keep their customers happy and how that keeps them coming back or returning to Disney and what they offer.” – Shelby on
  • “I was curious about the Disney service culture and the business operations behind it, and I learned about this and more “behind the scenes” management.” – Klaus on
  • “This is an excellent read about the methods of customer experience shared by the Disney Institute. Details, details, details!” – Christopher on

Setting the Table by Danny Meyer

Danny Meyer is a legend in the hospitality industry. Shoutout to Dylan Beaumont for telling me about this one!

How the publisher describes this book: Seventy-five percent of all new restaurant ventures fail, and of those that do stick around, only a few become icons. Danny Meyer started Union Square Cafe when he was 27, with a good idea and hopeful investors. He is now the co-owner of a restaurant empire. How did he do it? How did he beat the odds in one of the toughest trades around? In this landmark book, Danny shares the lessons he learned developing the dynamic philosophy he calls Enlightened Hospitality. The tenets of that philosophy, which emphasize strong in-house relationships as well as customer satisfaction, are applicable to anyone who works in any business. Whether you are a manager, an executive, or a waiter, Danny’s story and philosophy will help you become more effective and productive, while deepening your understanding and appreciation of a job well done.

What other readers have said about this book:

  • “Really well written and inspiring to anyone who loves hospitality.” – Charlie on
  • “As a business leader you should study excellence in your industry and outside of your industry and there are numerous takeaways in Setting the Table that can be applied to any business.” – James on
  • “I think people who work in the hospitality (particularly hotels) look at their jobs in one of two ways, most see their jobs as helping someone to have a good night’s sleep, in a clean and nice room. Some others see their job as making sure guests are relaxed, that guests enjoy their city, and that guests don’t have to worry about a THING. The latter are the 5%’ers Danny speaks about.” – customer

Hotel Pricing in a Social World by Kelly McGuire

Effective hotel professionals understand the importance of revenue management to fund the operation of the hotel and everything that makes great hotels so delightful. In this book, McGuire provides an overview of smart revenue strategy in today’s world.

How the publisher describes this book: T he evolution of the digital economy has enabled consumer behavior to become more quantifiable. As a result, the role of revenue managers has changed from a tactical orientation to a strategic approach involving pricing, total hotel revenue management, and a customer-centric methodology to developing demand. Hotel Pricing in a Social World demystifies the modern practice of revenue management to ensure revenue managers develop the knowledge and skills they need to meet today’s challenges and take advantage of profitable new opportunities.

A few quotes that stood out to me from reading this

  • With the emergence of the digital economy, revenue management has begun to evolve from a tactical orientation to a more strategic role that encompasses marketing, sales, and channel strategy.
  • Consumers today expect that the companies they do business with will treat them as individuals instead of a member of a large market segment. As distribution costs rise and alternatives flood the market, hotels must create an experience that differentiates the brand to stay competitive.
  • I’m worried, however, because the hotel industry has traditionally been very slow to react to market opportunities and very conservative in their approach to analytics, technology, and organizational change. As an industry, we are still dominated to a certain extent by old-school operators who came up through operations and have a very traditional perspective on the business of hospitality. We will need to be willing to be nimble, take risks and rapidly evolve our thinking, as an industry, to be able to overcome the risk of commoditization and shrinking profits associated with the complex digital environment. Revenue management can lead the charge, but it will be a bit like turning the Titanic!
  • First and foremost, we must be easy to do business with. In simple terms, we must offer the consumer a great purchasing experience regardless of the channel they choose.

What others have said about this book:

  • “I was a colleague of Kelly at MGM Resorts and had the opportunity to see her great work in action. I highly recommend this book to Hospitality folks, particularly in IT and Finance, who need to understand and support revenue management but haven’t been formally trained. An important subject and a great book.” – John on
  • “Great book, backed up with a lot of research. Knowledgeable author with experience in the field.” –

Magazine B: Airbnb

While the feelings of hotel executives towards Airbnb can be described as mixed at best, the impact the company has made on hospitality today is undeniable. This book outlines the vision the company’s founders had and provides lessons for hospitality providers of all types, including hotel owners and operators.

A few quotes that stood out to me from reading this

  • Airbnb founders learned that users for more interested than just accommodations: they wanted to local experience.
  • The definition of a good host depends on what the guest is looking for, and it is Airbnb’s job to make sure that guests find the right host that gives both parties a great experience.

Jobs To Be Done by Jim Kalbach

“Jobs To Be Done” is a framework many technology companies use for innovation, but this methodology is something I think many hospitality providers could learn from as well.

How the publisher describes this book: The Jobs To Be Done Playbook (JTBD) helps organizations turn market insight into action. This book shows you techniques to make offerings people want, as well as make people want your offering.

A few quotes that stood out to me from reading this

  • At its core, the concept of JTBD is straightforward: focus on people’s objectives independent of the means used to accomplish them.
  • Instead of focusing on your own solution, you must first understand what people want and why that’s important to them.
  • “‘Jobs’ should be as timeless and unchanging as possible. Ask yourself, “How would people have gotten the job done 50 years ago?” Strive to frame jobs in a way that makes them stable, even as technology changes.”

What other readers have said about this book:

  • “This gave me insights to serve our customers better. While reading this book I tried to compare our actual approach to the Market with JTBD thinking and like magic, my brain started sparkle ideas on how we can adjust Marketing & Communications, Sales and Delivery around the Customer Job and help them progress and satisfy their needs.” – Cleber on
  • “The book is well structured, reads well, and takes you on a step-by-step journey until you know exactly what you need to offer customers to help them get their ‘jobs’ done.” – JH on

When by Daniel Pink

Timing is everything, and this book will show you not only how to perform your best, but improve life for those around you – whether that is your teams or your guests.

How the publisher describes this book: Everyone knows that timing is everything. But we don’t know much about timing itself. Our lives are a never-ending stream of “when” decisions: when to start a business, schedule a class, get serious about a person. Yet we make those decisions based on intuition and guesswork. Timing, it’s often assumed, is an art. In When, Pink distills cutting-edge research and data on timing and synthesizes them into a fascinating, readable narrative packed with irresistible stories and practical takeaways that give readers compelling insights into how we can live richer, more engaged lives.

A few quotes that stood out to me from reading this

  • Positive affect—language revealing that tweeters felt active, engaged, and hopeful—generally rose in the morning, plummeted in the afternoon, and climbed back up again in the early evening.
  • First, our cognitive abilities do not remain static over the course of a day. During the sixteen or so hours we’re awake, they change—often in a regular, foreseeable manner. We are smarter, faster, dimmer, slower, more creative, and less creative in some parts of the day than others.
  • “innovation and creativity are greatest when we are not at our best, at least with respect to our circadian rhythms.”
  • You have even modest control over your schedule, try to nudge your most important work, which usually requires vigilance and clear thinking, into the peak and push your second-most important work, or tasks that benefit from disinhibition, into the rebound period. Whatever you do, do not let mundane tasks creep into your peak period.

What other readers have said about this book:

  • “If you want a quick introduction to the research around timing and our biological clocks, buy and read this book.” – Wally on
  • “The writing is crisp and clear and the author has a good sense of humor. It should take no more than a few hours and there are plenty of study guides and worksheets to help you translate the research into actual behavior.” – Garry on

Purple Cow by Seth Godin

I’ve probably learned more about marketing from Seth Godin than anyone, and the premise of this book is that great marketing starts with focusing on building remarkable products and experiences that are worth talking about. 

How the publisher describes this book: In Purple Cow, first published in 2003 and revised and expanded in 2009, Godin launched a movement to make truly remarkable products that are worth marketing in the first place. Through stories about companies like Starbucks, JetBlue, Krispy Kreme, and Apple, coupled with his signature provocative style, he inspires readers to rethink what their marketing is really saying about their product. In a world that grows noisier by the day, Godin’s challenge has never been more relevant to writers, marketers, advertisers, entrepreneurs, makers, product managers, and anyone else who has something to share with the world.

A few quotes that stood out to me from reading this

  • “Something remarkable is worth talking about. Worth noticing. Exceptional. New. Interesting. It’s a Purple Cow. Boring stuff is invisible. It’s a brown cow.”
  • “Remarkable marketing is the art of building things worth noticing right into your product or service. Not slapping on marketing as a last-minute add-on, but understanding that if your offering itself isn’t remarkable, it’s invisible.”

What other readers have said about this book:

  • His advice is still as relevant as dozens of years ago, a marketer must read.” – Magnus on
  • “First published in 2003, and again in 2005, and again in 2019, The Purple Cow resonates with aspiring and seasoned marketers alike for its timeless message; BE REMARKABLE.” – Corrynn on

The Ultimate Question by Fred Reichheld

Guest satisfaction drives everything else in hospitality, and while there are many ways to measure it, the Net Promoter Score is the simplest and probably the most powerful metric. 

How the publisher describes this book: In this landmark book, business loyalty guru Fred Reichheld reveals the question most critical to your company’s future: “Would you recommend us to a friend?” By asking customers this question, you identify detractors, who sully your firm’s reputation and readily switch to competitors, and promoters, who generate good profits and true, sustainable growth. You also generate a vital metric: your Net Promoter Score. In this book, the authors explain how practitioners have built Net Promoter into a full-fledged management system that drives extraordinary financial and competitive results

A few quotes that stood out to me from reading this

  • While bad profits don’t show up on the books, they are easy to recognize. They are profits earned at the expense of customer relationships.
  • Good profits are earned with customers’ enthusiastic cooperation. A company earns good profits when it so delights its customers that they willingly come back for more and not only that, they tell their friends and colleagues to do business with the company. Satisfied customers become, in effect, part of the company’s marketing department, not only increasing their own purchases but also providing enthusiastic referrals. They become promoters.
  • What is the question that can tell good profits from bad? Simplicity itself: How likely is it that you would recommend this company to a friend or colleague? The metric that it produces is the Net Promoter Score.
  • Net Promoter Score (NPS) is based on the fundamental perspective that every company’s customers can be divided into three categories. Promoters, as we have seen, are loyal enthusiasts who keep buying from a company and urge their friends to do the same. Passives are satisfied but unenthusiastic customers who can be easily wooed by the competition. And detractors are unhappy customers trapped in a bad relationship. Customers can be categorized according to their answers to the question. Those who answer nine or ten on a zero-to-ten scale, for instance, are promoters, and so on down the line.
  • NPS has to be viewed as an operating management tool, not as market research. Line management has to take ownership ship of the tool and must be held accountable for using it to improve performance.

What other readers have said about this book:

  • “This book gives a good background of the NPS score. It also helps to understand what’s behind the questions and why each matters. If you do NPS surveys, I highly recommend you read this book.” – Mark on
  • “This book is an absolute winner. Loads of amazing examples, description of NPS in practice and adequate explanation of concepts makes it a perfect reading. Moreover, it makes you think about other things you can do around NPS. The book talks about all things that can be impacted by NPS and things that can impact NPS. Makes your mind move.” – Viral on

WhoThe A Method for Hiring by Geoff Smart and Randy Street

Hotels are just a shell of what they could be without great people providing hospitality. This book shows how to hire the best.

How the publisher describes this book: In this instant New York Times Bestseller, Geoff Smart and Randy Street provide a simple, practical, and effective solution to what The Economist calls “the single biggest problem in business today”: unsuccessful hiring. The average hiring mistake costs a company $1.5 million or more a year and countless wasted hours. This statistic becomes even more startling when you consider that the typical hiring success rate of managers is only 50 percent. The silver lining is that “who” problems are easily preventable. Based on more than 1,300 hours of interviews with more than 20 billionaires and 300 CEOs, Who presents Smart and Street’s A Method for Hiring. Refined through the largest research study of its kind ever undertaken, the A Method stresses fundamental elements that anyone can implement–and it has a 90 percent success rate. Whether you’re a member of a board of directors looking for a new CEO, the owner of a small business searching for the right people to make your company grow, or a parent in need of a new babysitter, it’s all about Who.

A few quotes that stood out to me from reading this

  • The most important decisions that businesspeople make are not what decisions, but who decisions.
  • The first failure point of hiring is not being crystal clear about what you really want the person you hire to accomplish.
  • Success comes from having the right person in the right job at the right time with the right skill set for the business problem that exists.
  • While typical job descriptions break down because they focus on activities, or a list of things a person will be doing (calling on customers, selling), scorecards succeed because they focus on outcomes, or what a person must get done (grow revenue from $25 million to $50 million by the end of year three).
  • Successful executives don’t allow recruiting to become a one-time event or something they have to do only every now and then. They are always sourcing, always on the lookout for new talent, and always identifying the who before a new hire is really needed.

What other readers have said about this book:

  • “This is a step-by-step guide on how to source select hire and manage high-performance A-player teams. There wasn’t too much fluff. They broke down the concepts and then told a relevant story of its successful implementation. This book will change your business if you implement its teachings.” – Jimmy on
  • “I have been applying the tools and strategies outlined in this book for more than a year. As a hiring manager, I have saved countless hours as I am no longer spending time with B and C level applicants that would never be successful with my company.” – Keith on
  • “An easy read with a clear structure to follow in order to get better people on your team. Great reference to common errors to avoid as well!” – Kate on

Mindset by Carol Dweck

The best hospitality professionals I know have a constant growth mindset. This book explains the power of this way of thinking.

How the publisher describes this book: After decades of research, world-renowned Stanford University psychologist Carol S. Dweck, Ph.D., discovered a simple but groundbreaking idea: the power of mindset. In this brilliant book, she shows how success in school, work, sports, the arts, and almost every area of human endeavor can be dramatically influenced by how we think about our talents and abilities. People with a fixed mindset—those who believe that abilities are fixed—are less likely to flourish than those with a growth mindset—those who believe that abilities can be developed. Mindset reveals how great parents, teachers, managers, and athletes can put this idea to use to foster outstanding accomplishments.

A few quotes that stood out to me from reading this

  • For twenty years, my research has shown that the view you adopt for yourself profoundly affects the way you lead your life.
  • With practice, training, and above all, method, we manage to increase our attention, our memory, our judgment and literally to become more intelligent than we were before.
  • The hand you’re dealt is just the starting point for development. This growth mindset is based on the belief that your basic qualities are things you can cultivate through your efforts. Although people may differ in every which way—in their initial talents and aptitudes, interests, or temperaments—everyone can change and grow through application and experience.
  • “I don’t divide the world into the weak and the strong, or the successes and the failures.… I divide the world into the learners and nonlearners.”

What other readers have said about this book:

  • “This was a wonderfully thought-provoking, insightful book that really opened up for me the differences between a fixed and growth mindset.” – Tim on
  • “Carol’s book is an excellent exploration of what it takes to become better, at anything. An inspirational philosophy that shifts away from ideas of “I’m great/terrible” and towards “I can improve no matter where I am.” – Alex on

High-Tech, High-Touch Customer Service by Micah Solomon

As the world becomes more and more digital and our expectations for service increase with time, the need for what Micah Solomon calls “high tech, high touch” service has never been higher.  

How the publisher describes this book: In an age of social media, smartphones, self-service, and six-second attention spans, High-Tech, High-Touch Customer Service throws your business a lifeline. Today’s customers are a hard bunch to crack. Time-strapped, screen-addicted, value-savvy, and socially engaged, their expectations are tougher than ever for a business to keep up with. They are empowered like never before and expect businesses to respect that sense of empowerment–lashing out at those that don’t.

A few quotes that stood out to me from reading this

  • The timeline of customer expectations in general has sped up radically. In addition to mobile computing and improved connectivity, is one of the key factors in this—making the level of what’s in stock and available overnight absolutely unprecedented. Within minutes of placing your order, it’s likely being slapped with a shipping label at one of the Amazon-owned or UPS-Amazon-partnered warehouses in one of many strategically located places in the country.
  • If things go wrong for a customer initially, do a grand job of getting to the other side of that challenge and you may create a positive memory that literally supplants the initial unpleasantness.
  • The masterful company makes customers feel welcomed even before they physically or figuratively arrive, regardless of which channel of approach they use.
  • Your customer service technology and your technology-driven service processes need to be designed and operated in a manner that doesn’t simply respond to your customers but actively protects them from mistakes on both your parts.
  • There are an estimated five thousand customer/employee touch points every day in a business such as a moderate-sized hotel. There may be fewer touch points in your business, or, heaven help you, there may be more. Handling each of those touch points correctly requires an exceeding amount of psychological and intellectual flexibility, which will be hindered when employees know that management puts primary value on conformity.

What other readers have said about this book:

  • “Micah Solomon takes on one of the stickiest questions in business today–how to navigate the ever-changing landscape of technology without losing the soul of the cus­tomer experience–and explains it with great savvy. High-Tech, High-Touch Customer Service is a must-read.” – Jay Coldren, Vice President, Lifestyle Brands, Marriott
  • “Micah Solomon conveys an up-to-the-minute and deeply practical take on customer service, business success, and the twin importance of people and technology.” -Steve Wozniak, Apple co-founder
  • “This book was a combination learning experience/wake-up call for my businesses. I realized that it is impossible to survive if you sit idly by and don’t attend to the ever-changing customer landscape.” – Nathaniel on

Chief Customer Officer by Jeanne Bliss

Great companies are built on customer obsession, and Jeanne Bliss writes about how to operate that way practically.

How the publisher describes this book: Drawing on her first-hand experience at top companies as diverse as Lands’ End and Microsoft, Jeanne Bliss explains why even great corporations can drift to delivering mediocrity to customers, and she offers a proven solution to break the cycle. Different divisions and departments in corporations can fail to communicate and act as a team—they create silos instead of a superior customer experience. Jeanne Bliss shows in stark detail how profits suffer when businesses focus on their organizational charts and not their customer relationships.

A few quotes that stood out to me from reading this

  • The corporation does not live in rapport with its customers because cause the customer doesn’t experience a company through its silos. The customer experiences a company horizontally, across the silos.
  • Between 32 and 94 percent of all customers right now are thinking of walking away from the companies that currently serve them.
  • Companies need to have an ongoing roadmap to define where they want to make progress in customer profitability, customer loyalty, and customer experience delivery.

What other readers have said about this book:

  • “Talking about customer service is one thing; having it in your DNA is another. Chief Customer Office provides refreshing and needed advice for organizations that say they’ve committed to customer loyalty but don’t seem to make any progress.”–Wim Elfrink, senior vice president, customer advocacy, Cisco Systems Inc.
  • “I had been working for many years as a consultant and senior executive in the airline industry, always trying to make a point about integrating the customer’s point of view into all corporate decision processes, when I found this book – a jewel for anybody concerned with how “the customer thing ” is being dealt with in his or her company. In addition to providing tons of practical advice and really usable working materials, the book can also be used as an eye-opener at the board and c-level to make them aware of how a Chief Customer Officer is a key strategic function that cannot be delegated down to the customer service department.” – customer

All Business is Local by Katherine Jocz

“Local” may feel overused in some hotel contexts, but the reality is that providing experiences rooted in surroundings is compelling for many travelers. This book dives into how to take advantage of this.

How the publisher describes this book: Today’s business leaders are so obsessed with all things global and virtual that they risk neglecting the critical impact of physical place. It’s a paradox of the Internet age: now that it’s possible for businesses to be everywhere at once, they need to focus on what it means to be one specific place at a time. The best global brands, from IBM to McDonald’s, are by design also the leading local brands. For instance, your decision to patronize Starbucks will depend on whether it’s the best local coffee shop in your neighborhood, not on how many thousands of global locations it has.

A few quotes that stood out to me from reading this

  • [Starbucks CEO] Schultz made the point that Starbucks doesn’t reach customers through five thousand stores, it reaches customers through one store five thousand times. The most successful global marketers will be, like Schultz, intelligently local. As corporations become more national, multinational, or global, they serve more customers in more locations. Not all these customers have the same needs, desires, or preferences, especially when coming from diverse cultural backgrounds. Local knowledge thus confers a significant advantage in satisfying consumers. Moreover, given a choice between two global brands that are comparable in price and quality, consumers are more likely to choose the company they perceive to be more socially responsible in the local community. By respecting local values and local tastes, by rooting themselves in the community, global brands broaden their appeal and build deeper trust with their consumers.
  • Because attachment to place is so profound a part of human experience, consumers often form a strong, favorable emotional response to brands that incorporate place imagery in their names or advertising. Brands such as the Shangri-La hotel chain leverage the names of fictional, mythical places that powerfully evoke idealized qualities. Hermes nearly always mentions Paris. The Shanghai Tang fashion brand sells the most upscale Chinese apparel. Jack Daniel’s identifies itself as Tennessee whiskey.

What other readers have said about this book:

  • “The authors do a great job of making the case for localization and the importance of geography when it comes to branding, and general marketing. There are some interesting anecdotes (e.g., how Malaysia attracted investment from multinational corporations) that make for an entertaining read. Also peppered throughout are high-level frameworks that others have used to strike a balance around globalization and localization of various product attributes.” – customer
  • “The book discusses the need to take into account how people think about places (such as the value of associating products with places that influence the perception of products, e.g., German car, etc), how people interact with the physical place, the role of virtual place (the Internet and how it can complement physical place), how geographic place should be approached, and about local and global markets (e.g., contextualization, etc).” – customer

The Power of Moments by Chip and Dan Heath 

Hospitality does come down to little moments throughout a guest’s stay, and this book shows how to make them better.

How the publisher describes this book: The New York Times bestselling authors of Switch and Made to Stick explore why certain brief experiences can jolt us and elevate us and change us—and how we can learn to create such extraordinary moments in our life and work.

A few quotes that stood out to me from reading this

  • Defining moments shape our lives, but we don’t have to wait for them to happen. We can be the authors of them.
  • Every great service company is a master of service recovery. Business leaders who can spot their customers’ moments of dissatisfaction and vulnerability and take decisive action to support those customers will have no problem differentiating themselves from their competitors.
  • One simple diagnostic to gauge whether you’ve transformed the ordinary is if people feel the need to pull out their cameras. If they take pictures, it must be a special occasion.

What other readers have said about this book:

  • “The most interesting, immediately actionable book I’ve read in quite a while. I walked away with new ideas for motivating employees, delighting customers, engaging students, and even planning family vacations. If life is a series of moments, the Heath brothers have transformed how I plan to spend mine.” – Adam Grant, New York Times bestselling author
  • ‘Chip and Dan are amazing and impactful storytellers. In The Power of Moments, they are able to use stories to display a powerful truth, that we can be more impactful as leaders and as people by recognizing and creating more “moments”.  At Virgin Atlantic, helping our people create [such] amazing moments for each other and for our customers is a nice new way of articulating an underlying goal of great leadership. This book truly frames that thinking in an easy-to-understand and engaging way. Perhaps even more importantly, I can see many similar opportunities in my life as a husband, father and member of a community.’—Craig Kreeger, CEO of Virgin Atlantic

Connect by David Bradford and Carole Robin 

Hospitality comes down to relationships, and few authors are better qualified to speak about this than David Bradford and Carole Robin.

How the publisher describes this book: David Bradford and Carole Robin taught interpersonal skills to MBA candidates for a combined seventy-five years in their legendary Stanford Graduate School of Business course Interpersonal Dynamics (affectionately known to generations of students as “Touchy-Feely”) and have coached and consulted hundreds of executives for decades. In Connect, they show readers how to take their relationships from shallow to exceptional by cultivating authenticity, vulnerability, and honesty, while being willing to ask for and offer help, share a commitment to growth, and deal productively with conflict.

What other readers have said about this book:

  • “It’s never been clearer that meaningful relationships are critical to a fulfilling and healthy life. Connect shows us that by learning to connect with ourselves we can more easily build thriving relationships.”—Arianna Huffington, founder and CEO of Thrive Global
  • Connect offers a compelling and highly accessible road map for building relationships that lead to professional success and personal fulfillment. I highly recommend this book.”—Reid Hoffman, co-founder of LinkedIn and co-author of Blitzscaling and The Alliance
  • “In Connect, my colleagues Carole Robin and David Bradford have written a practical and easy-to-read book. They have succeeded in bringing to life a legendary course at the Stanford Business School.”—Joel Peterson, former chairman of JetBlue Airways

The Lonely Century by Noreena Hertz

Hospitality is an antidote to loneliness, which plagues our culture today.

How the publisher describes this book: Loneliness has become the defining condition of the twenty-first century. It is damaging our health, our wealth, and our happiness and even threatening our democracy. Never has it been more pervasive or more widespread, but never has there been more that we can do about it. Offering bold solutions, The Lonely Century offers a hopeful and empowering vision for how to heal our fractured communities and restore connection in our lives.

What other readers have said about this book:

  • “A compelling vision for how we can bridge our many divides at this time of great change and disruption.”—Arianna Huffington, founder, and CEO of Thrive Global
  • “While the subject matter for this book is certainly timely due to increased social isolation related to the pandemic, the author points out this has been a disturbing trend for quite some time. While she offers some fascinating examples of this trend and disturbing statistics associated with social isolation- her discussion on solutions is what I took away from this impressive assessment.” – Kirsten on

The Art of Gathering by Priya Parker

Great hotels are gathering places. Priya’s work has been so influential in my thinking on gathering people that it even guided the way I planned my wedding and guest list! 

How the publisher describes this book: In The Art of Gathering, Priya Parker argues that the gatherings in our lives are lackluster and unproductive–which they don’t have to be. We rely too much on routine and the conventions of gatherings when we should focus on distinctiveness and the people involved. At a time when coming together is more important than ever, Parker sets forth a human-centered approach to gathering that will help everyone create meaningful, memorable experiences, large and small, for work and for play.

A few quotes that stood out to me from reading this

  • Gathering – the conscious bringing together people for a reason – shapes the way we think, feel, and make sense of the world.
  • We spend much of our lives gathering, but much of that time is uninspiring, underwhelming moments that fail to change us in any way or connect us to each other.

What others have said about this book:

  • “Hosts of all kinds: this is a must-read!” –Chris Anderson, owner and curator of TED
  • “As social animals, humans gather, meet, and bond—seeking meaning, purpose, creative expression, and more. In almost all cases this is an unconscious process leading to subtle frustration and a lack of satisfaction. For the last few years I’ve avoided social gatherings because I find them meaningless and banal. I learned much from this book. Priya Parker has created both an art and a science to gathering in ways that can bring joy and fulfillment to any meeting.” —Deepak Chopra
  • “A fabulous guide with practical help for making the most of our gatherings, whether formal or informal, business or social, family and friends, or work collectives. This is a book I will read and reread many times taking notes and seeking to put into practice all of the valuable insights shared by the author.” – Sue on

Shut up and Listen by Tilman Fertitta

Adele Gutman recommended this book to me and I appreciated Tilman’s no-nonsense approach to growing businesses through taking care of customers.

How the publisher describes this book: Tilman Fertitta, started his hospitality empire thirty years ago with just one restaurant. Over the years, he’s stayed true to the principles that helped him build the largest single-shareholder company in America, with over $4 billion in revenue, including hundreds of restaurants (Landry’s Seafood, Bubba Gump Shrimp Company, Morton’s Steakhouse, Mastro’s, Rainforest Café, and over forty more restaurant concepts) and five Golden Nugget Casinos. This book shares the key insights that made it all possible.

A few quotes that stood out to me from reading this

  • Every successful business, in one way or another, is built around hospitality. The problem is, many businesses fail to see that. And if they do, they don’t pay nearly as much attention to it as they should. Hospitality can mean everything to the success or failure of your business. In this section, I’ll discuss what hospitality involves, why it means so much to your business, and how to overcome obstacles that can get in the way of providing hospitality—consistently and without exception.
  • To me, the definition of hospitality is simple. It’s however you handle a customer. Nothing more, nothing less—how you treat him or her, how you respond to what he or she asks for, and your ability (and willingness) to stay flexible. The ultimate goal of interacting with a customer is to make him or her feel like the only customer you have in the entire world. Why? Because as I tell my own employees, there are no spare customers.
  • The rule is simple: when talking to a customer, be sure to make the conversation all about them. Let them talk about their needs, what they hope to get out of buying your product or service. If they want to complain, listen. They want to be heard more than anything. Since you’re trying to make them feel like they’re the only customer you have, act like it. When dealing with that one customer, no one or nothing else matters at that moment.
  • Being nice costs you nothing. But, by the same token, remember: it can cost you a hell of a lot to be rude.

What other readers have said about this book:

  • ‘You will want to reread and review Tilman’s timeless lessons for business owners over and over again.’ -Tom Brady, six-time Super Bowl Champion, four-time Super Bowl MVP, three-time NFL MVP
  • ‘Tilman’s swag comes through loud and clear on every page, telling you what you need to do to be successful.’ -James Harden, NBA Houston Rockets Superstar and MVP
  • ‘Tilman offers up compelling lessons on how to build and run a business. If you want to rocket your business to new heights, this is the book for you.’ – Scott Kelly, former NASA astronaut

And that’s my list of best books about hotels and hospitality!

I hope you enjoyed this list and would love to hear your recommendations as well. Tweet me @HotelOperators or find me here on LinkedIn. If you would like to learn more about hotels and how to run them successfully, I encourage you to subscribe to my Hotel Operator’s Weekly Briefing email here.