Have we forgotten how to be Hospitable?

Monica Or, columnist and Hospitality Consultant at Star Quality Hospitality Consultancy discusses how technology is alienating our staff from our guests..

The word ‘hospitality’ is all about welcoming our guests, and unfortunately in this day and age we are not so good at this. The reason being is that we have lost the art of conversation.

Our workforce is very diverse in the hospitality industry although the majority of it is made up of the millennial generation sometimes referred to as Generation Y. These individuals were born between the 1980s and the year 2000 and are very tech savvy being weaned on smartphones and tablets. They are online 24/7, 365 days a year. On the one hand this is great that they are up to date with the technological advancements that bombard us. On the other they have a more in depth relation with their smartphone than they do with our customers.

I was speaking recently at an event and the difference in the audience members was interesting to observe. The more mature members demonstrated through their body language that they were listening attentively with great eye contact and writing down notes of interest, whilst the younger members had their smartphones out and were taking photos of my slides. This scenario easily translates back to the operations of your hotel.

The basic etiquette of human interaction can be lost on our younger members of staff as they are so used to interacting with a screen, texting and sending emoticons that when it comes to communicating face to face with our customers, they can sometimes lack the personal touch that our guests now seek.

Facts:
• First impressions are made in the first 3-5 seconds based on what we see.
• 55% of communication is non-verbal, through reading body language, giving eye contact and using gestures.
• It takes 18 encounters to turn a negative impression in to a positive one

As technology advances some hotels are piloting robots or humanoids to interact with our guests. Are we really getting to the stage where our operations have become so robotic that we are literally going to ‘employ’ robots to check in our guests. What has happened to being personable and emotionally engaged with our guests, striking up a conversation and being so observant that we know what our guest wants before they do?

A few reminders of some basic etiquette:
• Use your guest’s name (not their room number)
• Enquire about your guest’s reasons for staying – this shows interest in them and is a good conversation starter
• Open doors and let your guest walk through
• Carry their luggage for them and escort them to their room
• Remember to say ‘please’ and ‘thank you’
• Use eye contact when speaking with your guest
• Listen to your guest – especially for verbal clues
• Be aware and attentive – this will give you opportunities to surprise and delight your guest

About Monica Or: As the founder of Star Quality Hospitality Consultancy, Monica specialises in working operationally with the owner/managers of independent hotels and restaurants focusing on their business structure and service delivery. She is the author of ‘Star Quality Hospitality – The Key to a Successful Hospitality Business’ an Amazon best seller.
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