5 Hospitality Customer Service Habits – Warm & Welcoming

5 Hospitality Customer Service Habits
5 Hospitality Customer Service Habits – Warm & Welcoming

In this article, I share five ways you and your hospitality team can offer more memorable welcomes, that your guests will love (and what to avoid saying). Incorporating these five habits into your daily life can also make you a highly valuable and productive person.

Do our hospitality teams actually know what to say and what to do? Are we missing some key touch points, that could result in mediocre surveys or worse, bad TripAdvisor reviews?

Here’s an actual bad customer service review on TripAdvisor:

This sort of negative feedback could have been avoided – if you know how to properly handle the situation.  Here are five tried and true hotel customer service habits to show guests you really care:

You only have one chance to make a positive impression, so get it right! It’s like dating, if you show up on a first date wearing a dirty, torn up shirt and stinky breath, chances are, you’re likely not to get a second.

Same goes for our hotels. If we make an amazing first impression, they’re sure to come back! Our satisfied guests will often overlook small issues, if we know how to properly welcome them.

These are my 4 “must-do’s” for making great impressions.

  • Friendly Welcome – “Hi, Welcome to the Hampton Inn Midtown” or “Good afternoon, Welcome to Daytona Beach. Is this your first time visiting our city?”
  • Stand Up – Get off that chair and be presentable (iron your shirt!)
  • Make Eye Contact – Eye contact produces feelings of caring, trustworthiness and likability.
  • Smile – Why look sad? When instead, you can smile. They say a smile is contagious and it’s actually true! When we smile, it creates a spark that triggers the brain’s pleasure center. Read my article on “Your Million Dollar Smile.”

Donna Cutting, author of “501 Ways to Roll Out the Red Carpet for Your Customers shares with us, “It takes the entire hotel staff to make guests feel welcome and wanted. This goes beyond the front desk team – but to anyone they may encounter during their stay. Simple smiles and friendly greetings by each hotel staff member they meet can go a long way towards making people feel welcome.”

Words are powerful tools. They are used in our daily lives to make or break any situation. The sentences that come out of our mouths make a huge impact on how others feel about us and our successes. Having a habit of using the right words to properly communicate to our guests is crucial.

I recently asked my great network of hospitality professionals on Linkedin to share their thoughts on “Name one thing hotel front desk should never say to guests”. See their comments here.

Here are some Right versus Wrong hospitality words.

  1. “NO” vs Find a solution – No is not the answer
  2. “We can’t do that” vs “Please allow me to figure out a solution”
  3. “We’re sold out” vs “Tonight our hotel is fully committed, can I offer to help you find nearby accommodations?”
  4. “Checking out/in?” vs “Good Morning/Afternoon, How may I assist you?”
  5. “I don’t know” vs “ Please allow me to find out this for you”
  6. “I don’t work in that department” vs “I’m happy to help you find that right person to better answer your question”
  7. “It’s our policy” vs “Let me see how I can help you with this”
  8. “You can’t do that” vs “Here are some alternative suggestions for you to…”
  9. “No Problem” vs “It’s my pleasure”
  10. “It’s not my fault” vs “On behalf of ___ and our hotel, I’m sincerely apologize….”

(Related article: 5 Hospitality Phrases Guests Remember Most)

Incorporating this habit into your daily life can be a game changer for any business, especially hotels. Think of the last time you paid someone for a service. Did you get  more than you expected? Did you feel great because you got more than your money’s worth?

Recently, I had carpets replaced in my home. If you’ve ever had carpets installed, you know it can cost a lot. The installation crew showed up early, tore out the old, worn-out padding and lugging up and down a flight of stairs. They worked pretty hard to complete the whole house in just one day.

But that’s not the whole story. It gets better – like Customer Service Expert, Shep Hyken would say “The Moment of Magic” happened when a crew leader tells me there’s an issue but not to worry, my floors aren’t level enough with the thresholds of all the bathrooms doorways. He explained in detail how his men will correct it by putting down leveling mud to make the installation perfect. AND he tells he would do this all for no extra charge. They offered more.

Later I heard him coaching an installer the importance of good customer service and “doing extra work, by going above and beyond the job”. This experience was truly remarkable and that’s why I’m now telling you about it. So how do you do this within your hotel?

Watch this video on “Give a little more to your customers” by Shep Hyken

Here are 7 things you can do to offer more:

  1. Anticipate their needs with questions.
  2. Give directions. Actually print it out (Google maps)
  3. Offer coupons and discounts to local attractions
  4. Make a welcome guide with local favorites, restaurant, banks, atm, post office, grocery store and more.
  5. Free drink coupons, gift basket, anniversary cake, birthday card, more towels or room amenities – Make them feel extra special.
  6. Candy Bar with guests’ name on it. Get Candy Wrapper Template here.
  7. Complimentary upgrade, free breakfast, additional night stay comp’d.

We’ve all hear this term being tossed around. What does empowerment actually mean?

In my house, my kids are always asking my wife and I if they can have juice. I got to thinking, we need to empower our kids to make their own smart decisions. So one day, I simply said “From now on, if you want juice, make a smart decision, whether you deserve juice or not”. Since then, we’ve all learned a life lesson on empowering ourselves. Our kids are happy to they are able to make a wise decision and we’re happy they learned a valuable lesson (and less nagging).

Wikipedia says – “Empowerment refers to measures designed to increase the degree of autonomy and self-determination in people and in communities in order to enable them to represent their interests in a responsible and self-determined way, acting on their own authority.”

In plain English, it means we need to understand, make decisions and take correct actions for the overall good of our hotel. It’s the idea of “Doing the Right Thing”! You know deep inside, what is right and what is wrong. You also know what you can do to make a guest feel better, improve their stay or simply, cheer up their day. Don’t ask for permission for every little thing –

“Be Empowered and Empower Others”
– Rupesh Patel

Do this:

  1. Successfully resolve a guest issue
  2. Take on a new initiative
  3. Ask for additional tasks on your own
  4. Share ideas on how to improve a process at your hotel
  5. Suggest ways to save energy, payroll and other expenses.
  6. Don’t be afraid to sometime challenge status quo.
  7. Do something that will make a guest super happy.
  8. Challenge yourself to do greater.

Read Micah Solomon’s Article: “How Ritz-Carlton And Four Seasons Empower Employees And Uphold Customer Service Standards

Ask and you shall receive. What does that exactly mean for hotels? How do we use it to make our guests feel warm and welcomed?

Sure, as hospitality professionals, we want our guests to be happy. But many times we don’t fully understand how to actually make that happen. You need to be in the asking mindset.

  • Ask questions & be empathetic – Learning more about your guests will definitely make an impression on them. Asking questions shows you care, but it also helps you anticipate their needs.
  •  What brings you to the area?
  •  How was your trip in?
  •  Have you stayed with us before?
  •  Where are you from?
  •  I understand traveling through a packed airport can be challenging…

Share this your team:
Free PDF Download: Top 17 Questions Staff Must Ask at Check-in

Example 1:
We all understand the importance of guest feedback and online reviews. Think about all the satisfied guests that left your hotel today. Why didn’t you get reviews or feedback  from them? Because you didn’t ask.

The Fix
At checkout ask
You: Mr/s Smith, How was your stay?
Smith: Good
You: While I prepare your checkout, please take a moment to tell us what is one thing we can do to improve. (give them a We Care Card or Trip Feedback Card). According to their response, apologize and correct issues or ask for a review using a Review Reminder Card.

Example 2:
The breakfast host can get direct feedback by asking “How is your stay?”, Is there anything I can do to make your stay more enjoyable?” or “Is there anything you would add/change in our breakfast offerings?” Get feedback by asking questions.

I asked Customer Service Consultant and Forbes contributor, Micah Soloman, what are ways hotels can make their guests feel wanted/welcomed. He shares…

“I think focusing on the guest as a person rather than a transaction is important. What do I mean by that? I don’t necessarily mean asking rote questions like “how was your trip in?” What I mean is that the first questions in particular shouldn’t be transnational. “Checking in?” Is a terrible way to greet a guest. “Good morning, welcome.” Is much better.”

Many times we assume the answer without asking the hard or easy questions to confirm our thoughts. If you want guests to post reviews, ask. If you think a process or procedure need to be changed, ask questions. If you feel like you deserve a raise, ask!

Getting into an asking habit is powerful for your mind and makes you a smarter person overall.

By incorporating these 5 powerful hospitality habits, I wish many positive things come your way.

Have a successful day!

Rupesh Patel

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Rupesh

Rupesh Patel, hotelier and founder at SmartGuests.com, a U.S.-based Hospitality and Review Tools company that helps hotels increase revenues and occupancy, by boosting their online reviews and reputation. His proven system has not only improved his own hotels, but have helped hundreds of other hotels (large and small) get an advantage over their competition. He regularly shares his passion for entrepreneurship, customer service and marketing on numerous industry sites, social media and blogs.

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