When we talk about the hospitality we often forget the true meaning of the term, hospitality is defined as: “Quality of who is hospitable; cordial generosity in welcoming and treating guests ”.
There are three key terms used in the definition of the Treccani dictionary which are “to be hospitable”, “generosity” and “treating”. However, they are often forgotten and we lose what is the essence of our work, what defines us as part of the industry in which we operate. We live in a fast-paced era, where our focus as hoteliers is necessarily on achieving the revenue and profit targets that are needed to stay afloat, now more than ever. Without economic results, we cannot keep our hotels open and it is human that our attention is turned to the achievement of our goals or to financial survival, if we think about the current historical period.
But this condition is valid regardless: before the pandemic, the hotels suffered what was defined as “over tourism”. It seems like years ago, but it is not… I remember well the queue at the reception to check-in and check-out and the often “transactional” attitude of the clerks behind the counter. Is it really history? Now that we have much more time to devote to guests, are we giving them that extra attention that makes us “hospitable” and leaves a mark in the memory of those who stayed in our hotel?
Let’s talk about the time of booking.. We are in the 2.0 era, the internet makes everything more transparent and believe that the customer calls to really know what are the availability and prices over a specific date, is a pure illusion! The customer has already visited our site, has read our reviews, probably already follows us on social media, and surely already knows what the availability and prices are on the requested date. The customer on the phone is much more than an opportunity, it is a tentative business that we must convert into a reservation. How to manage the call then, assuming that he/she already has all the information needed to book regardless?
The path is Empathy -> Profiling -> Offer.
When I travel with my family, I have a higher spending power than when I travel for work. I prefer spacious rooms and I am willing to spend more on services such as a restaurant or bar. If we miss the “empathy” that for the hotel consists in knowing the guest, the reason for travel, the needs; it is not possible to offer the solution, in terms of rooms and rate, that best suits the guest needs.
The result of this simple process is also a greater economic return for the hotel and not only because “the standard room at the lowest price” was not offered by default when the guest asked for a quotation but because an effective sale was made: customer satisfaction has increased because the guest felt understood, the engagement increased and the willingness to extra spend when he/she will be at the hotel will be considerably higher.
It has been shown that if we change the culture, we transform our hotel associates into “sales people”, we can generate up to 30% of incremental revenue.
We don’t all necessarily have to become salespeople in the strict meaning of the term, but in an age where there is a lot of talk about the human-machine dichotomy and the fact that technology replaces humans in transactional processes, mind-shifting and empathy are the way to progress and return to being human and “hospitable”. Or simply, go back to doing what we always should have done.
My point of view is dictated by what I have lived and by the experience that I have brought home over the years: as a revenue person I work with numbers and the cut I wanted to give in my opinion article here is about the missed opportunities that hotels sometimes don’t realize they are leaving on the table. Only with adequate training and by transmitting the true values of our being hoteliers, can we go back to our origins. I don’t mean to tell you that, but I want a person that has always been on the front line to speak so I pass the ball to Beatrice Cozzani, Guest Relation Manager:
I still remember the dialogue I had with the head of the reception with whom I worked more than ten years ago, he was explaining to me the sacredness of the month of May, a period par excellence dedicated to thermal bathers and therefore to regular guests, each characterized by a specific need. Intrigued by the amount of regulars I would welcome back to in a few weeks, I asked my colleague why these guests had chosen us for so many years. In the blink of an eye, my colleague replied that they were returning not only because they secured their preferred room and we were located close to the thermal area,, but above all because we played a fundamental role in their lives.
The moral of this conversation is centered on dedication, listening, smiling, remembering the needs of guests and simply being concerned about their expectations. This creates something powerful, the Relationship.
I trained a lot about this topic, and when I talk about sales I usually don’t think of a final moment but of an intermediate path that can open the doors to various scenarios. It is up to us, as hoteliers, to establish a relationship driven by high performance: if the team is trained both in the procedures to be followed and in deeply understanding the guest, certainly the scenario we will experience after the sale / stay will be Customer Retention and word-of-mouth thanks to the memorable moments collected by our guests.
This path can be described with the term TRAVEL, which starts from the leadership that sets the example, listens and motivates the team, shares knowledge and SMART objectives to be achieved together. This way, the whole team will start doing the job in a different way, that is, move from the “we have always done so” to “welcome change”.
In my personal experience, a first step towards this new type of sale or approach is certainly to focus on ourselves by recognizing our emotions; if we do not learn to be self-aware of our moods and to self-control, it will be difficult to understand what the guest with whom we speak on the phone or that stands in front of the counter feels.
To be successful we must feel comfortable in the role we play, in fact not everyone was born to be a salesperson and if we find ourselves holding a job where we feel we do not belong to, my advice is to appeal to our motivation, curiosity and to the desire to open up to the new.
Connected to the creation of the relationship and therefore to the sale focused on emotions, there are some aspects to keep in mind: smile, sincere listening, time, empathy, knowledge, a sense of belonging to the company you work for and interest in the person we are talking to. This last point emphasizes the importance of asking our guest for the name, if he/she has already stayed at our property, the reason for the trip, if there will be children traveling, the means of transportation he will use to reach us and even if during the stay there will be a special occasion to celebrate.
Let’s remember that getting in tune with the emotions of the other and asking the right questions at the right time will transmit such high values as to allow not only the establishment of the relationship based on trust but also the beginning of the experience with our brand. Certainly let’s not forget to use this technique also for ancillary services, we will make a difference.
In conclusion, recognizing the uniqueness of this period that no one could ever have imagined, what we can do is try to make the most of the difficulties we are facing and focus on learning, not only to improve but also to reflect on ourselves and on how to make a difference when we will restart.
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