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Are You Able to Anticipate the Needs of Your Hotel Guests? ehotelier Editorís Week in Review
By Anne Edwards, Editor in Chief
In this week's editions of ehotelier I was struck by a recurring theme of ‘mirroring'. Larry Mogelonsky picked it up in his article Mirror Mirror On the Wall...Revisiting Room Key, and the article Seven Tips to Win Any Negotiation listed it as the most important step in the first five minutes of a negotiation. Mirroring - what is it and how can it be of benefit in the way we interact with others?
Mirroring - How Do I Look Today?
When scientists conducted experiments in Parma, Italy, on macaque monkeys, they came across the concept of mirroring quite unexpectedly. A scientist who had walked into a monkey's room eating a banana, had witnessed on the imaging equipment the monkey was hooked up to, a lighting up of the area of the brain for eating - just as if the monkey were eating the banana himself. What do brain imaging and bananas have to do with how we interact with others? Simply this - right from the time we are young children, we make sense of the world by what those around us are reflecting back to us. When we ‘mirror' others, we have an experience of what they are going through and this enables us to demonstrate a deep connection with them and deep connection is what we humans are all about.
How Mirroring Builds Trust
Let's go back to that article Seven Tips to Win Any Negotiation. The author, Giang, says research published by the Journal of Applied Sciences states that the first five minutes of a negotiation can predict the negotiated outcome. In these minutes, the study says you need to focus on copying the emotional state of the speaker and vocal mirroring to help the negotiations end well on your side. This is mirroring but how does it help us to connect?
Picture this scenario. You've arrived at a hotel tired from a late flight, a rainy city and a shortage of taxis to ferry your grumpy children to a place where hopefully they will start sleeping and stop complaining. The youngest is crying, your partner is struggling to find booking information and you are confronted by the unchanging smile of the front desk assistant, as if nothing in the world is wrong. ‘How may I help you?' Let me count the ways!
If you have ever felt irritated upon being greeted by this unchanging smile when you are far from smiling yourself, you are not alone. What is missing in this scenario is the genuine connection with the guest in the knowledge that, in this moment, for him, everything is not OK. Even the standard question ‘How may I help you?' is not going to mean much to the guest when it comes from that same smiling face. To mirror the guest entails putting yourself in their shoes and reflecting first, with a facial expression or gesture, that assistance is required. In that moment of acknowledging that the person in front of you is perhaps stretched by their circumstances, the thing you gain is the most important step to a successful interaction - connection with that person.
Being a Leader Who Can Mirror
Clinton Farley took up this thread in A Successful Hotel Business is One With an Engaged Team in Sync with a Good Leader. In it, he explains "A good manager is a leader who crawls, walks, runs and then celebrates the success with their engaged team. Developing an engaged team is key to ongoing success in any business." One of the aspects I admire about the hospitality industry is the fact that it is an industry in which the leaders still work their way up from the bottom. This is important in being able to mirror, to respond in a way which shows that you understand, you are connected, because you've been there. Farley points out that "every successful leader acknowledges that they are a part of their team, they don't ask their team to do anything that they haven't done themselves, and if they do, it is probable that they won't gain full buy-in or engagement of all team members.
Mirroring Helps Us to Anticipate Needs
In order to understand our guests and their needs, we need to anticipate. In Brad Callahan's article Don't Innovate, Anticipate, he says "I've never heard back from a guest raving about the high-tech air conditioner controller. I have heard ‘thank you' for the crayons and the extra pad that was left by housekeeping staff after it was recognized a young child was staying in the room." How can you get your team to anticipate? Callahan suggests inverting the habit of starting with the bright idea and then building in the solutions. "Instead, instil in your team the habit of looking through the lens of the guest's point-of -view and encourage and reward fresh ideas. Then, develop the onsite amenities, programs and communication touch points to anticipate your guests' needs and desires. Remember that one size does not fit all."
Wise words from a leader who looks to be doing a great job considering the accolades of his team and property. That's the review for this week. If something has given you pause for thought, let us know what it is you're thinking at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Anne and the ehotelier Team
About Anne Edwards
Anne Edwards combines her love of language, travel, and different cultures as Editor in Chief of ehotelier.com. Prior to this position, Anne lectured in Cross Cultural Studies at the Blue Mountains International Hotel Management School in Australia and currently consults to the Australian Federal Government on subjects such as Leadership and Building Productive Partnerships. Anne has travelled and worked internationally for twelve years, holding various positions in the field of education, most notably as linguistic advisor to the Crown Princess of Thailand for two years where she sampled some of the best hotels in the world. Her love for travel spans the freedom of wandering on a shoe-string budget to the finest standards of service in world-class properties. As Editor in Chief of one of the largest hotel news sites in the world, Anne has a birds-eye view of what is happening in the industry internationally.
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