The One-Sentence Test: Can you say what your hospitality business is about in one sentence?

Whether you call it; a quick pitch, an elevator pitch, a concise summary, a 30-second pow intro, or a vision/mission statement, introductions are super important and in today’s blog, I ask you: Can you say what your hospitality business is about in one sentence?

In the bustling world of hospitality, where every interaction counts, defining the essence of your business succinctly is more than just a skill—it’s an essential art form.

Whether you’re orchestrating the seamless elegance of a boutique hotel, artistically producing artisan products, curating culinary experiences that tantalise the taste buds or crafting cozy retreats that feel like a home away from home…capturing the heart of your hospitality venture in a single sentence is akin to distilling the very soul of your enterprise.

Dame Karen Jones, who co-founded Café Rouge and is currently chair of Hawksmoor, has said entrepreneurs will be better placed to inspire their staff and customers if they can “define, quickly and clearly, the essence of what their company can offer” through what she calls the one-sentence test. Writing in the Sunday Times, the ex-chief executive of the Spirit pub group and current non-executive director at Mowgli, said: “Do you have that clear-eyed vision – the single, simple sentence that contains within it the distillation of all your thoughts? It’s very difficult to pass this ‘one-sentence test’; it has to be memorable, it has to be short, and you must love saying it (you will say it a lot), and so must your people. It is your ‘what’, expressing the essence of what you are as a company – and if you aren’t clear about that, why should customers buy into what you offer? I love working with entrepreneurs. Their energy and belief is infectious, creating momentum at best and chaos at worst. To avoid the latter, alignment and structure are essential – and this is where the one-sentence test comes in, as all else flows from it. You can’t write a marketing plan – or a product or people plan – without knowing what you are. That vision can be a factual statement.” 

  • “Café Rouge was centred on ‘straightforward French cooking at value-for-money prices’; 
  • “Hawksmoor creates ‘world-class restaurants in world-class cities’. 

“And by the way, when I wanted to check that Café Rouge sentence, I asked a business colleague and friend who was also our first Café Rouge employee, and she fired it straight back without hesitation.” 

“We can of course get into ‘mission’ and ‘vision’ statements should we wish to. Vision is the wider, more all-embracing aim – for me, it is ‘every customer leaves wanting to return’; for Google, it is ‘to provide access to the world’s information in one click.’ The mission statement, meanwhile, is the one sentence that guides the actions of the company. But whether you opt for both or just one, the sentence is the thing that, if right, will help guide your enterprise forward, course-correcting as needed, through thick and thin.”

What an incredibly spot-on, thought-provoking quote from Dame Karen Jones. The truth is, we aren’t going to create successful hospitality venues, where everyone is culturally aligned and on board, if we don’t know who we are or what we are offering.

 As stated above, from “…the one-sentence… all else flows from it. You can’t write a marketing plan – or a product or people plan – without knowing what you are…”

 The one-sentences for my businesses are: 

  • The Townhouse; To be Chester’s best local hotel, simply making people feel they’re home! 
  • The Hospitality Hero; Looking to “lift” the face of Hospitality and share the delights, successes and enjoyment of this Ever Changing, Always Amazing Industry. 

As part of our Hospitality Hero masterclass we cover – ‘Leading Mission, Vision and Values’ – and, as part of this module I explain that your one-sentence provides a clear purpose – it answers the question, “Why do we exist?” – it guide actions and decisions. 

As a leader, it’s key to practice delivering your one-sentence until it feels natural and effortless. You should be able to deliver it confidently in any situation. My one-sentences are communicated regularly with my teams and pinned to the walls of staff rooms within my hospitality venue. It’s part of briefings, staff inductions and one-to-one meetings – they create alignment and momentum. 

As Dame Karen Jones wisely notes, this concise articulation not only inspires staff and resonates with customers but serves as the compass guiding all facets of your enterprise. It’s not merely a statement; it’s the nucleus from which all actions radiate, fostering alignment, momentum and a sense of purpose.

Embracing this challenge isn’t just about crafting words; it’s about distilling the very soul of your hospitality venture into a memorable, impactful declaration.

 So, could you pass the one-sentence test?