Today, you could be a guest in a hotel and not speak to another human being. A computer could check you in, check you out and communicate with you during your stay. You could use an iPad to order room service and even tell the chef how you’d like them to cook your steak.
However smart all this technology seems, this move away from genuine human contact is harming the hotel industry. An industry that’s already under threat from a fragile global economy and the rise of online accommodation-sharing sites such as Airbnb.
Hotels, and in particular boutique hotels, must work harder to preserve and demonstrate their difference. This, surely, is to give their guests an experience that, however briefly, lifts them out of their everyday life into one of seamless comfort and care. All of which depends on excellent customer service built on genuine human contact.
It’s not that technology doesn’t have its place. It can help guests book their stay, plan their trip and control things such as the lights and temperature in their room. When you find the sweet spot between people, process and technology, technology can be the oil that helps human contact flow. But technology can also act as a barrier, preventing any human contact at all.
The challenge for boutique hotels
When people stay in a boutique hotel they expect to have a unique, more intimate, personal hotel experience. They’ll judge this on the décor, the menu, the quality of the bedlinen, the soap in the bathroom, the size of the shower head. And of course, on the stellar personal service they receive.
Why you must make an emotional connection
You’ve built your hotel’s reputation through recommendations and repeat bookings. To maintain this, it’s imperative you have a human connection with your guests and don’t surrender to the march of technology.
This connection must be an emotional one. You want your guests to feel cared for, relaxed and valued. Emotions lead to actions and the actions you want your guests to take are to remember their stay as a good one, to want to come again, to recommend your hotel to others and maybe to stay longer than they’d originally intended.
Make this your purpose
To stand out, your boutique hotel needs a team of emotionally intelligent staff. People who demonstrate a genuine interest in and empathy for others. People who will make your guests feel welcome, comfortable and cared for. What we at Miticom call innovative communicators.
When you make excellent customer service built on innovative communication an active choice, what you say becomes what you do. It becomes part of the game-changing way in which you work. It generates soul and purpose. Which in turn boosts both your performance and your profits.
I leave you with one question. It’s not can you afford to invest in training your staff to develop the high-level communication skills they need to provide the best customer service. It’s can you afford not to?
About the author
Miti Ampoma is an award-winning business communications and change management specialist and author of the acclaimed business book, The Innovative Communicator. Through her company, Miticom Communications Training, Miti helps business leaders, managers and next-generation leaders develop the advanced communication and influence skills they need to develop and maintain strong relationships, drive performance and create sustainable financial growth, all with a focus on integrity and humanity.