The Power of Welcome…Hospitality Beyond Property Borders
By Roberta Nedry President & 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.