The first discussion at MarketWatch: T+L’s Features Editor Nilou Motamed sat down with Stephen Hanson of B.R. Guest Restaurants for a discussion of his innovations in the hospitality industry and what he feels is important.

Hanson spoke of finding a new middle—that value is not supplanting luxury, but that the economy is pushing people to explore new hotels and restaurants. People have re-evaluated their values in this economy, he says, and they now feel they can enjoy the luxury experience a couple times a year instead of eight times a year.

But, says Hanson, what’s important is delivering value for the price, and that starts with service. “People are demanding 5-star service in a 3-star brand,” he says; that’s a difficult thing to achieve but is his goal. Discounting may get people in the door, but the hotel or restaurant has to make the customer feel special.

So how does he make the customer feel special? Hanson’s company has been tracking guest preferences to know what they like and give them that personal touch.