The Power of Welcome…Hospitality Beyond Property Borders

By Roberta Nedry President and Founder, Hospitality Excellence, Inc. | July 10, 2011

What makes us feel welcome, comfortable, appreciated in any environment? What kinds of emotions are triggered when we experience a welcoming feeling –and when we don’t? How do hoteliers instill the spirit of welcome in their teams and create a warm sense of belonging the moment their guests arrive? And, how can the power of welcome move beyond borders and reach out to guests before they even set foot on the property?

Recently, I was in a doctor’s office and was overwhelmed by how welcome I felt and how comfortable the staff made me feel. Having felt quite the opposite, unwelcome and uncomfortable, in many doctor offices, I was actually stunned by this experience. What made this team different is that from the moment I opened the door, each person from the receptionist, to the administration team, to the x-ray technician, to the nurse and the doctor greeted me warmly by name and with direct eye contact. Each person I met introduced themselves and explained what would happen next. I felt unique and special even though I was probably one of over 100 patients that day. I noticed that the doctor in charge was very interactive with his staff, greeted them and laughed with them and kept a level of positive energy going at all times, even with a demanding schedule. His staff felt welcome and special too and that impacted the way they treated each patient.

In any hospitality environment, the spirit of welcome is so important in creating a strong foundation for the guest experience. Each person, each point of contact, can add so much to the ‘welcoming’ experience for guests!

A welcome goes beyond words, it creates a feeling of caring and gives a sense of pleasure. A sincere welcome reaches out and positively pulls guests in to the hospitality environment they have chosen and makes guests feel like they have made a good choice. A cordial and courteous welcome gives guest the feeling they have been invited to join the setting even though they chose to go on their own. The power of welcome is to affirm the guest made the right choice and is further welcome to enjoy (and spend!) each aspect the property (or business) has to offer.

On a recent trip to London, we found ourselves looking for dinner after 10pm and were not having much luck. Finally, we found an Italian restaurant, after walking and searching for about an hour. We were tired, weary and hungry. We were warmly greeted, like missing family, by Salvo the owner, who gently ushered us to a comfortable corner table. He fussed over us, steered his team over to us promptly and chatted with us as if he had known us for years. We felt immeasurably welcome within minutes and relaxed into one of our most enjoyable meals ever. He checked on us regularly, brought the meals himself, and made sure the spirit of welcome in his restaurant was constant for our entire stay.

Hoteliers and hospitality leaders can generate a feeling of welcome in many different ways. Due to bad weather and traffic we arrived very late at our lodging after a longer than expected nine hour drive. Once again, it was after 10pm, all markets and restaurants were closed and we were starving and frustrated. As we unlocked the door, a cheery written welcome sign and a small basket of fresh local bread, and healthy snacks to tide us over until morning greeted us. We were so relieved and enjoyed these treats as a welcome respite from our hard drive and appreciated anticipation of our stay to come. This thoughtful gesture made us feel so welcome, even with no one around.

Coming up in January 2018...

Mobile Technology: Relentless Innovation

Technology has become a crucial component in attracting and retaining hotel guests, and the need to enhance a guest’s technology experience is driving a relentless pace of innovation. To meet and exceed guest expectations, 54% of hotels will spend more on technology in 2018, and mobile solutions in particular will top the list of capital investments. Many hotels are integrating mobile booking, mobile keys, mobile payments and mobile check-in into their operations. Other hotels are emphasizing the in-room experience, boosting bandwidth and upgrading flat screen TVs to more easily interface with guest mobile devices. And though not yet mainstream, there are many exciting technology developments on the near horizon. The Internet of Things (loT) is taking form in some places, and can be found in guest room control systems, voice activation systems, and in wearable sensors that can be used for access and payment options. Virtual reality headsets are available at some hotels so guests can enjoy virtual trips to exotic locations or if off-property, preview conference facilities and guest rooms. How long will it be before a hotel employs a fleet of robots for room service, or utilizes a hologram as a concierge, or installs gesture-controlled walls that feature interactive digital displays? Some hotels are already using augmented reality for translation services, or interactive wall maps, or even virtual décor. This pace of innovation is challenging property owners and brands to stay on top of the latest technology trends while still addressing current projects. The January Hotel Business Review will explore what some hotels are doing to maximize their opportunities in the mobile technology space.