It is true, a guest has likely already interacted and gained certain impressions about your hotel before the porte cochere is even in sight. This initial interaction most often occurs online through research, reservations or OTA sites. And if your hotel is in the 70% of hotels that are traditionally branded, much of this siloed interaction is reliant on those brand partners. However, the moment that guest is welcomed by the sights and sounds of your hotel, the more memorable impression is just beginning.
A first impression doesn't always start at the front desk
We know that a first impression is crucial to the overall satisfaction of our guests, but what we need to be mindful of is the way that our hotel culture translates into an authentic welcome. The front desk is often thought to be the first direct impression that a guest has with our hotel. While this is often the case, it is not an absolute. A doorman or valet standing guard on a rainy day with a trusty umbrella may be the first welcome. Perhaps a facilities associate maintaining the exterior grounds may be the first to offer a warm hello. It may also be the sales associate that has been working hard to build a relationship with a new LNR contact who has just entered the lobby for a first tour. So while the front office staff is trained to hit all the marks in terms of guest welcoming and satisfaction, the hallmarks of this service level excel throughout the entire property experience.
3 Tips to Infuse an Inviting Welcome into Staff Culture
1. Be Inviting to One Another
Staff interaction with each other is just as important as the interaction with our guests. Starting a shift with a welcoming greeting from peers is sure to set a precedent for the days’ interaction with guests. While there is little time for office chatter in a productive and efficient hotel, a morning hello, or an evening acknowledgement from a shift manager can go a long way. And always consider just saying “I am happy to see you. A “thank you for all that you do” will start a trend.
2. Translate Staff Interactions on to Guests
The feeling of being welcomed can almost be a tangible asset to set your hotel apart from the rest of your competitive set. If your guest feels like they are in their own community, they are less likely to “move out” and try out a competitor. One way to weave a guest into the community of the hotel is to use our peers’ names. Instead of saying that “someone” or “we” will assist with the guests’ bags, clearly say, for example, “James is on his way to assist you.” Another tried and true way to cement your interaction with a guest is to put yourself into action. Walk and talk with the guest, like they are your neighbor from just down the hall. Put aside the gesture to the elevator, when availability allows, and take the walk.
3. Outright Ask for Feedback
It would not be the first time that no one knew there was a problem with a guest’s stay until the satisfaction survey is sent to their email, when it is much more difficult to remedy. Again, this should not be a sole responsibility of the front desk agents. Often during check out it is asked if everything was “ok” with their stay. Well, “ok” is not what we are aiming for. In addition, the 2018 Customer Engagement Study found that 58% of guests desire the option for mobile check out, so that last chance interaction may be lost all together. Throughout a guest’s stay, inquire if there is anything that could enhance their stay. These inquiries can be made in the lobby, by the pool, in the restaurant, anywhere an engagement is made.
Bottom line, an inviting culture is not a checklist of tasks to be completed, it is a shared ideology that is maintained by passionate people focused on making guests feel at home and that gives them the desire to visit again. Building a culture, same as building a community, does not happen overnight. But with commitment and fostering, the payoff of that welcomed guest is worth the effort invested.
At Synergy Hospitality Management, we create extraordinary experiences, not only for our guests but also the teams that serves them. Hospitality is our passion balanced by an unrelenting ambition to achieve profitable results. To learn more about our management services visit our Services page, or to join our award winning team visit our Careers page.