In much of the Western world, traditional hospitality is becoming a lost art, however:
There are many things that make for good hospitality and a pleasurable guest experience. For those that are passionate about working in the industry hospitality is really about treating each and every guest as you would in your own home and comes from a passionate heart.
It's being that person on the front desk for arrival with a smile on your face so bright that you're showing some white teeth, it's that porter or receptionist that welcomes enthusiastically and informs a guest about the hotel facilities and then it's that team member who walks a guest to their room and notes some features along the way as well as offering their service for the duration of a guest stay.
Genuine hospitality comes from the heart it is a gift of sharing and delighting, a service that one offers to ensure those staying or being hosted enjoy their experience and ultimately return to experience that experience all over again. Someone that offers true hospitality "feels it" they are happy to know that their guests are happy and their expectations are met.
However it doesn't finish with the arrival experience, guest expectations are set on their complete stay. The ultimate hospitality experience encompasses all facets of a guests expectations; from arrival to experience and then departure. All vitally important components of a guest stay. If one of these key areas is not met 100%, you then have a guest who's expectations have not been completely met and they may or may not return.
So what makes good hospitality?
Easy, no fuss booking process
Clear confirmation of booking - so guests know what they have booked
Follow-up prior to stay such as an advance email: welcoming, advising of activities in the region, hotel facilities ie: restaurant/bar etc
A friendly greeting upon arrival at the door, walk with your guest to reception - you are the host!
An informative check-in process: have they stayed before? "It is our pleasure to welcome you back Mr/Mrs..."
Recognise special occasions that you know of from the booking process or that you are informed of during the arrival process eg: birthday, honeymoon, anniversary
Check what plans your guests have for their stay - offer to assist with activity bookings or dinner reservations
Never point! Walk with your guest to their room, mention features along the way: some hotels will offer a porter or bellman - do something special in the room! could you offer to fill and turn the kettle on?
Turndown! It is a great opportunity to impress and check on guest well being - do something special!
How about a courtesy call to check on your guest (a little harder in a large hotel), however a nice touch! You may be able to assist with a query before it becomes a problem!
If dining in-house be sure to impress - offer the finest fare and top shelf service: know your wine and food, offer a good sommelier!
Breakfast the first and most important touch point at the start of a day! A newspaper is always a "good to have" (just like home), be sure to have the most bubbly team members on!
During departure "check-out", read your guest: if they are in a rush, make it quick: if they want to talk? Talk with them - it is their last memory of their experience
Thank them for choosing to stay with you and ask if you can assist with any future bookings or on-travel
And some very important points
Treat each and every guest personally!
Be unique in your offering, allow your team some freedom to express their hospitable personality and offering (within reason)
Always recognise and greet a guest "good morning, good afternoon" - never walk straight past!
Read your guest and ensure you are using the most appropriate language
EVERY GUEST IS SPECIAL. They are staying with you because they chose your accommodation over all else!
And most important
Developing and fostering a truly ENGAGED team of passionate team members! Happy team members deliver the service you strive to deliver in your overall mission statement which leads to satisfied, happy guests!
The Art of Hospitality is a timeless tradition, evident since the start of time and common to all cultures, offering the best hospitable experience to your guest
The above is by no way an extensive list on "what to do" rather, a sample of what one can do when striving to deliver that traditional fine art of hospitality.
About the Author
Clinton Farley runs a multi-award winning 5 star hotel in regional New Zealand and has over 15-years industry experience. Most recently named a finalist for the New Zealand Tourism Awards, PATA Young tourism Entrepreneur of the year 2012.