Hospitality DNA: Are You Born With It, or Is It Taught?

Have you ever been in a restaurant waiting for your meal, or at a wedding venue thinking about all the people working behind the scenes, when you notice someone being so good at their job? You see them smiling, running, and putting out fires all at the same time.

Were they born with hospitality in their blood, or is it something that they learned?

To be honest, I wasn’t 100% sure of what my answer was. But now, after working in the hospitality industry and getting to know myself and other people more, I can tell you that the answer is both.

There are a lot of things and qualities that we can be born with: having blue or brown eyes, the color of our hair, or a medical condition. Our DNA is a huge part of who we will always be scientifically and biologically, it’s our nature. But there are skills and habits that we learn along the way that end up becoming “part of our DNA”. Like when you drink coffee every day and say: “it’s just part of my DNA now”, or do math without a calculator because you’ve done it a thousand times. There are certain moments when you work in hospitality when you’ll notice something inside of you change. Something that was out of your comfort zone becoming a strength. Moments that will teach you lessons and make you see a side to yourself that you didn’t know you had.

This is what I call hospitality DNA.

Like our own DNA, it is a complex but complete and unique piece of ourselves. The only difference is that the hospitality DNA is not hereditary, but it passes on by example.

What do I mean by example? Well, when you see someone being so passionate and dedicated to this industry, you’ll want to follow their example. It’s something that only the people who have worked in this industry will understand. Hospitality means making magic every day with the tiniest things. So, when you see someone pull off a magic show out of an ordinary day, you’ll want to do the same. 

This is why mentorship and leadership are such huge parts of a career in hospitality. We get people from all kinds of backgrounds and different industries come into hospitality for different reasons. Whether you wanted a change in your career, whether it’s your first job, a summer job, or just to save up some money. The bottom line is, you’re now part of our industry, and for you to excel at what you do, you’ll need to follow an example, you’ll need inspiration.

See, for me, it happened that way. I never knew I had the hospitality DNA in me until I got my first job in the industry. I wasn’t born with it, but I learned along the way and it has become a huge part of who I am today. I got it because of the people around me. I was amazed by the way they were able to not only teach me or tell me what to do, but to walk the walk. They always led by example.

As someone who started with almost no real experience in the hospitality industry, I can tell you that my mentors played a huge role in my decision to stay in hospitality. I guess it’s human nature to always look for an example. In a way, it makes you feel more confident and secure about what you’re doing.

The hospitality industry nowadays is filled with people who don’t know they are leaders yet. It’s filled with people who are starting on their journey unsure whether hospitality is their future career or if it’s just a summer thing. The future leaders of the hospitality industry are right in front of us. They’re filling out forms, setting their alarms to get early to work, and putting on their uniforms.

The thing is, they’re all waiting for that someone who will make them notice their potential. They’re waiting for someone to show them how far they can go in this industry.

If you’re someone else’s boss, manager, or employer, think about the person that you needed when you started out your first job. Think about your doubts, your fears, and your expectations. And most importantly, think about how you felt. Because that is the best way to connect with anyone who is starting out in the hospitality industry. That’s the best way to become someone’s mentor. 

We need to start passing on the hospitality DNA to the people around us. Pass it on to your applicants, your new hires, your current staff, and even your guests. Show them with your example. Remind them that hospitality is more than just a job, it’s a lifestyle.

We might not be all born with a hospitality DNA, but if you got it, you owe it to your mentor. 

It’s your turn to pass it on. 

Maria Navarro is a new contributor to Harri. Born and raised in Mexico, Maria moved to the US with big dreams! Though only 27 she has a passion for hospitality and has worked in a variety of management positions for luxury hotels. Now Maria is pursuing her other love––writing and connecting with people ––and has launched her copywriting business, offering services in both English and Spanish. 

You can read more of her work at

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