What is Hospitality? Definition and examples

In the world of business or economics, the hospitality sector includes companies that provide food, drink, and accommodation, such as bars, restaurants, and hotels. When talking about how many people work in hotels, bars, and restaurants, an economist might say: “In that country, thirteen million people work in the hospitality sector.”

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We also use the term when talking about the entertainment, food, drink, etc., that companies provide business partners and guests.

In general English, hospitality may refer to the act of being welcoming, friendly, and helpful to guests, visitors, travelers, and strangers in general.

The Cambridge Dictionary has the following definitions of the term:

“1. The act of being friendly and welcoming to guests and visitors. 2. Food, drink, entertainment, etc. that an organization provides for guests or business partners. 3. The group of businesses such as hotels, bars, and restaurants that provide food, drink, or a place to sleep.

This article focuses on the meaning of the term in a business or economics context.

The hospitality industry (sector)

Food, drinks, and lodgings

The hospitality sector, which is part of the services industry, comprises a broad category of fields. These fields include food, drink, theme parks, event planning, camps and RV (recreational vehicle) parks, and lodging (accommodation). Bars, cafes, restaurants, hotels, inns, bed and breakfasts, and motels are all part of the hospitality industry.


Companies involved in transportation, including travel agencies, tour operators, ticket offices (selling travel tickets), and carpool services are also part of this sector.

Pleasure, luxury, enjoyment

Put simply, the hospitality industry comprises a group of services and business linked to customer satisfaction and leisure. It focuses on the ideas of enjoyment, experiences, comfort, luxury, and pleasure, rather than basic necessities.

The hospitality vs. travel industries

These two industries are closely associated, and often overlap in their features and functions. However, there are some slight differences.

The travel industry caters for people who are traveling away from home, usually for a relatively short period. The hospitality industry, on the other hand, caters for anybody who goes out to eat, drink, and enjoy their free time. These consumers may either be locals or people from far away.

Even hotels may sometimes provide accomodation for locals. For example, if major plumbing or construction work needs to be done in their homes, they may choose move out for a few days or weeks.

Etymology of hospitality

Etymology is all about finding where words come from, i.e., their origins. It also includes the study of how words evolved over time.

French and Latin origin

According to etymonline.com, the term first emerged in the English language in the late fourteenth century, with the meaning “act of being hospitable.” It came from the Old French word Ospitalité, which meant “hospital, hospitality,” which originated from the Latin word Hospitalitem, which meant “friendliness to guests.” The word Hospes is Latin for “guest, host.”

Corporate hospitality

When it comes to impressing current clients and prospects, corporate hospitality is a powerful marketing weapon. A prospect is somebody or a company who we believe could well turn into a client.

If you book a first class, luxury package with super food, drink, and excellent entertainment, your guests will be impressed by how much you value them.

In our of our previous articles, Edward Bishop wrote:

“When it comes to impressing potential clients, there’s no substitute for a corporate hospitality event. Book a luxury package with excellent entertainment, food and drink and accommodation and your client will be in no doubt about how highly you value them.”