In my last article I showed you how enhancement of simple practical skills can have a positive effect of the service experience of the guest. But as said, this is not all. The missing link is the interest in the guest.
And here I refer to real interest. As a service provider you want to know who your guest is. I’m sure you do realise that every guest is different. His social, economic as well as his cultural background dictated his behaviour, his interest and his likes and dislikes. Doing a perfect job in setting the table, serving the drink and smiling is only half the story.
Did you ever consider why your guest comes to your hotel, restaurant, airline in the first place? Or to be more precisely: did you ever ask? Is it the food, is it you, is it the owner, the location, the interior design, just curiosity, recommendation of friends, or possibly a news paper article? There can be numerous reasons, and each of these reasons require a different approach, and attitude from you! You can not change yourself. You don’t have to! But point is that it is up to the service provider to give the guest what he is looking for. It ‘only’ requires a curiosity from your side to find out, as most guests will not tell you upfront what they want, assuming that they know exactly themselves.
Sit down yourself and recall your visits of hotels and restaurants. Why did you go to that place at the coast in the first place, or that huge restaurant in the centre of Paris. What did you expect? And more importantly, did you feel what you had expected to feel, experience? Not many people will think about what they are looking for. Most will have an undefined, unconscious, expectation of their visit. If it did not ‘work’, they are left with an uncomfortable feeling, that they possibly can not really explain themselves.
It is up to you to find out. Your curiosity helps you to satisfy the needs of the guest. With a positive attitude and an enthusiastic presentation you will be able to build a bridge between the guest and yourself. But be aware that this is not about ‘interrogating’ the guest. No, your attitude will be one of unobtrusively finding out what you need to know. You’d be surprised what information you get from the guest.
It helps when you put down questions beforehand. Practice the questions with colleagues and find out how they sound. Do they get to the point? Are they ‘unobtrusive’ enough? The best entry here is to take your observations as a lead. It gives you an easy introduction for starting small talk.
When you manage to connect in this way, and when you manage to act upon this: guests will love it! They may not tell you explicitly, but their feeling will accelerate. What more do you wish.
The above sounds easy and simple. It is not. Time is limited, you are always short of staff, guests have no patience. The list of excuses is endless not to take this step. Mindset however should be void of excuses. You just do. As a manager you should lead by example here and coach your staff in this positive curiosity. It requires the right mindset by all staff.
About the Author
Hugo R Mechelse is managing director of International Butlers. IB offers training and consultancy services, assisting hotels and real estate to go up the ladder, to the next level of personalising service. Training covers personalised service courses for high-end hospitality staff (e.g. butlers), private households, cruise ships, and private yachts. Consultancy, among others, covers mystery visits and establishing signature Butler Service Departments. His book ‘The Art of Butling’ will be published shortly.