One of the most thought-provoking sessions at the Mid-Atlantic Innkeepers Trade Show and Conference last week was the general session featuring Terrie Glass, a story-teller from Leadership Solutions of Richmond, VA. I’ve been to a number of sessions where the speaker usually addresses the big picture or offers platitudes of advice without really giving any hands-on, practical behaviors that are actionable or useful.
Not this one! After asking, and listing on a flip chart, what a “Good” lodging experience is (e.g. fair price, clean room, nice breakfast, etc.) and then what a “Great” lodging experience is (e.g. personal interaction with innkeeper, a sincere welcom, attention to details, etc.) , she then asked everyone to think of the most “memorable” stay they’ve had at an inn. And then she listed on a flip chart the “Why’s”…Why was this so memorable for you? The answers to the memorable question varied quite a bit from the Good and Great list.
In fact, you can stay at an Inn that did NOT have all the details in order, but still have a most memorable experience that earns repeat stays. Making Hospitality “Memorable” boiled down to three concepts:
- Making the Personal Connection: Attending to the emotional comfort of the arriving guest, which also builds trust. Remembering the upcoming anniversary or the kids birthdays, or when guests arrive with a level of anxiety (after a long drive, meeting strangers, not sure whether the inn they’ve chosen will be comfortable, etc.). Offering immediate and sincerely helpful comfort, with the personal connection, gives the guest a feeling of value and welcome.
- Delivering Positive Emotions: Terrie spoke of a cruise she took with her elderly mom and the clan. For over 2 hours around the dinner table, the family (grand kids included) interacted, joked, and told stories. Terrie’s memory, however, is the look of total pleasure on her mom’s face as she watched her family share time together. For Terrie’s mom, the positive emotion was the love for her family. For our guests, it is the compliment we offer, or when the guest mentions their son making the swim team, our reply of “Wow…I would really be proud if that were my son” evokes positive emotions from them.
- Taking Care of What is Relevant (to the Guest…not you!): What is relevant to the guest may be very different than what is relevant to you. For example, if a guest is (privately) worried about being able to get a hold of the babysitter at home during the night, she doesn’t want to hear that the house phone is for local calls only or that the last guest rang up costly long distance charges. She would rather you perceived her real concern and offer relevant options to ease her anxiety. What you worry about does not matter since it is not relevant to the guest.
We are pretty good at the hospitality thing in our industry. But remembering the 3 important concepts of making EACH visit memorable will pay off in repeat business.
Do any of you have examples of how you made a guest’s stay memorable for them? Scott