Guests dining at a wine dinner

The Importance of Dining with Your Guests

Owners and operators of guest ranches and lodges have long understood how important it is to dine with their guests. It is perhaps the defining element of authentic hospitality and a tradition that goes back to the very origins of experiential travel starting in the early 20th century when big city “dudes” would venture “out west” to experience something much more than a vacation.

There is nothing that makes a guest feel more welcome than sharing a fine meal with their host. On top of that, it is also a smart business decision. And there are a number of major benefits for your guests and your team that come from dining together.


The guest business is a very demanding occupation. For true pros, there is no such thing as “free time” during peak season. The best in our business put a positive spin on this reality. They take the attitude that if one must work all the time, they may as well have fun doing it.

Building friendships around the table is one of the purest forms of enjoyment hospitality has to offer. This is true no matter how your operation performs financially year to year. If you understand the rewards go well beyond the bottom line, you will always be rich with friends. 

Accountability & Loyalty

Owners and operators who stand by their product and take personal responsibility for the guest experience will build incredible loyalty with their clientele. For owners and operators with the knowledge of everything that goes on behind the scenes, sitting down with their guests to share a mutual experience demonstrates confidence and accountability.

Since even the best teams will have a misstep now and then, it also takes courage. Whether the prime rib is undercooked, or there aren’t enough vegetarian options on the menu, owners and operators who dine with their guests must face the music, own the feedback, and correct the details. This is the kind of leadership that builds trust in your guests. And they will reward you by returning to your establishment year after year. 

Set Your Brand Apart

Hotels and motels under a corporate brand might “leave the light on for you”; however, I wouldn’t expect more from this promise than a commitment to a limited-service experience at the cheapest price. Nowadays hospitality management companies are tripping over themselves in a rush to capture room rates comparable to the all-inclusive packages provided by independent operators of guest ranches and lodges. 

At the time of booking, these pretenders emphasize exciting activities and outdoor adventures; however, upon arrival, they turn their efforts toward keeping you on property. To capture every last dollar, guests are inundated with a mundane mantra to “Eat, Stay & Relax”. This is not the model of an all-inclusive property seeking to elevate the guest experience and build a repeat clientele, and it would be almost comical if it wasn’t actually effective. Since these companies are actively working to steal market share from ranches and lodges, it is a also threat not to be taken lightly.

Fortunately, guests who know better are not so easily swayed. Owners and operators who dine with their guests can set themselves apart simply by doing something their “would be” competitors can’t or won’t do, which is namely to have the decency, admiration, and respect to sit down and spend quality time with their guests.

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