02 Sep Sharing is caring
So, it has been almost forever since I last blogged, and quite honestly it’s because I have been too busy with life and work! But I am back and will hopefully be able to blog more often now!
The hospitality industry, as with many others, is a business that revolves not around process and procedure, but around people. Managing guests is just as important as managing staff and a large part of that relies on personal interaction. This is a fundamental part of the industry, and as any sales person will tell you, a lot of the time the person is not buying the product, they are buying you!
There are many different ways that you can wow a guest, such as free upgrades, little touches in the room or extravagant furnishings, but picture this – you have a magnificent building with exquisite design and amazing extras thrown in for every room, you even give away free iPads, have swimming pool access from every room, and have cars to collect every guest from their home and drive them to the hotel…. Fantastic! Now imagine you have all that but the place is run by robots; machines that perform a function and they do not extend beyond that. Check in is at a kiosk and everything is automated. Would you still feel that the hotel is as luxurious? The answer is probably not, but why?
On a very primitive psychological level, people are social. They like to interact with other people, to know and understand them, and most importantly to learn from them. In fact many do argue that our desire for social interaction is a primal survival instinct; by being social and learning from the experiences of others, we do in fact build up a picture of an event or location which in turn does enable us to stay safer and in turn complete our primal drive – avoid harm and stay alive! If someone tells you to avoid an area at night that you have never been to in an unfamiliar city, are you then more or less likely to go there when nightfall comes?
This basic instinct for social interaction and inclusion drives the popularity of many sites such as Facebook, Twitter and even Tripadvisor. This does extended beyond the computer screen and in to real life. People want to feel included and involved, they want to share the journey with you. In fact some of the most positive feedback I have received is from when people are involved in some of the activities taking place in reception. Take for example the guest who stands shouting because of the traffic being a nightmare in the city, taking their aggression out on you; you deal with it with the usual aplomb and grace of a hotel receptionist but you are still tense and stressed out on the inside. This is not great for the next guest, but there are some ways you can alleviate tension and increase guest relations in just one step. This may fly in the face of what you have heard before, but actually sharing that moment with the next guest can really help break down barriers!
So in this example, a guest has spent 10 minutes shouting about the roadworks in the area, you have dealt with them and proceed to the next guest. Sometimes just a quick quip such as ‘So, did you enjoy the diversions because of the roadworks?’ In a jovial, cheeky manner, can really help get the next guest on your side. You have alleviated stress by sharing and they have become involved in your day. Of course this takes great skill in reading people and knowing how to deliver such quips, so don’t start bitching about guests in the hope this will build relationships as it is not that simple and takes a lot of understanding of people.
Whilst not necessarily the greatest example, this does portray how sharing with a guest can break down barriers and help you build a relationship with a guest. I have had it where printers down work, or computers don’t work. To alleviate tension a comment such as ‘This is why I use Apple Mac and not windows’ can include the guest in your little bubble and spark a conversation with them. Remember that this also works two ways.
So a guest is stressed about the roadworks- they ultimately want to alleviate stress and vent their frustration, you unfortunately are the point of focus for all that! Instead of just apologising, offer them something to help relax, maybe offer a drink in the bar or even just help with their luggage. Maybe they are having a weekend away from the kids so you put them in the quietest part of the hotel away from other families. Maybe they have had a really bad day at work, so you suggest room service or a good film on the TV system for them to watch and unwind? Perhaps they had a nightmare journey, so you work to get them checked in as soon as possible and get a dressing gown and slippers taken to their room with some bubble bath so they can have a nice relaxing bath!
The key here is sharing. In the same way as you feel relief from sharing your frustration with someone else, they will feel the same way when you do the same for them. If you have regular guests, guest to know them on a personal level and treat them more as a casual acquaintance than a guest (without getting too familiar of course!) – make your empathy a physical and tangible thing!
Guests visit for a variety of reasons and you should always acknowledge these reasons. I always have a quick quip for those who are here for work – I simply reply ‘Me too’! It’s obvious I am there for work as I am working to check them in, and this usually gets a wry smile or two! It’s creating a small connection that makes the guest feel less isolated!
So there you go, share a bit of yourself with every guest, and get them to share a bit with you! For some things, such as guests who like a certain restaurant or certain drinks, put notes on their guest profile and then next time they stay, after a long journey suggest they go for their favourite drink in the bar or maybe you know of a good offer at that restaurant they like?
Do you have any tips or methods for sharing and caring for your guest stays?
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