The Oxford dictionary defines hospitality as the friendly and generous reception and entertainment of guests, visitors, or strangers. To extend this definition to the hospitality industry - one of its key functions is giving guests a friendly and enjoyable experience.If you work in the hospitality industry then you know all too well that the customer is always right. Learning to smile and bear is something everyone who has worked in hospitality picks up early on in their career. Perhaps we can look at things in another way that will not only improve the guest experiences, but make life easier for those giving the service.

Ten things you should know about the guest experience

1. The right tone of voice: Whether you are a waitress at a restaurant or manning the front desk of a hotel, you represent the institution you work for. Your manner and tone of voice set the pace for the guests’ experiences at that establishment. Make sure to have a friendly and welcoming tone that makes the customer feel glad that they came there. Have a smile on your face and show a willingness to serve the customer in the best possible way to kick start a great experience for the guest

2. Listen to the client: It is extremely important for a good guest experience that you actually listen to the client. Addressing the guest’s question and providing a concrete solution makes the guest feel cared for. On the flip side, being unable to find a solution for the guest or worse still, brushing off their concerns could lead to the customer feeling unimportant and even angry which is a sure way to lose business. Providing a solution without the need to escalate the problem to another department makes the guest happy and more confident in your abilities

3. Work like a well-oiled machine: Every now and then a situation might crop up that leaves you in a less than desirable state. A diner might be overly particular about a way a dish needs to be served, holding up one of your waiters while other diners are left waiting. If you have a free moment step in and take a few orders from tables that are not yours. The seamless stepping in for each other ensures that service continues without a hitch and the customers don’t notice the difference. It would be better if there was a system in place beforehand to avoid any confusion during actual service

4. Take initiative: Going the extra mile is something that we are encouraged to do in almost every industry and hospitality is no different. In the hospitality industry especially, it is imperative that you make the guest feel important and even special. Offering a wheelchair bound guest special amenities before being asked, or volunteering information about a local event a guest might like, are ways to take initiative. Simply by asking a guest at check in if they need anything else and then actually delivering on something they asked for could vastly improve the guest experience

5. Dealing with the tough ones: You could be blessed with the kindest and friendliest of guests or you could be saddled with a “find fault with everything” type, you have to learn to deal with all types. As difficult as it might be to smile and be civil to an excessively critical guest you need to just think happy thoughts and get on with it. If your guest is complaining about the color of the room and if possible give them another. If you can’t change the guest’s room, tell them politely that all the other rooms are occupied. It is a very rare situation that they would actually pack up and leave because of that, but if they do at least you know that you did whatever you could

6. Offer novel experiences: One of the main things travelers are looking for is to experience the local culture. It would do a hotel well to keep informed of cultural events and festivals that are taking place in their city and inform their guests of the same. Organizing a tour bus and guide to a local food festival or an exhibition of local handicrafts could provide guests with an enjoyable and unique experience

7. Using technology to improve service: With a plethora of new customer relationship management (CRM) software available these days, hotels should make the most use of them. Not just saving basic customer data but also preferences could help personalize and improve the overall customer experience. If you have a guest who has visited before and has a nut allergy, the next time they call to book with you, you can let them know that you will take care to not serve them nuts. Similarly if a regular guest has a child you could ask them if they would like a kid’s cot setup or if they would require childcare services, before they ask you

8. Automating the booking process: In the age of the internet most guests will find you and even book you online. Having an automated booking process which is easy to use makes the booking experience a lot less stressful for the guest. If with a few clicks and entering some basic information the guest can get a reservation you have given them a good experience already. Long and difficult procedures might lead to a guest leaving your website without making a booking and you losing business

9. Follow up and feedback: Your service to your guest does not need to end with them checking out of your hotel or restaurant. An email or a text message asking for their feedback could be exactly what your client needed. Some guests might not take the time to reply but for those who did have a grievance this gives them the perfect opportunity to voice it. Following up with customers will only add to an enhanced guest experience

10. Taking time to recharge: Working in hospitality could leave you exhausted, sleep deprived and irritable. It would never do for your frayed nerves to spill over into your service of a customer. You also need to take care of yourself to make sure that you are at your best to serve others. Take some time off every week to rest and recharge your batteries so that you can give your guests a great experience.

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