How to put relationship building at the heart of service

08 July 2021 by
How to put relationship building at the heart of service

When you are working within the restrictions of the pandemic, extra effort has to be made to meet guests' needs, says Barbara Czyzewska

The provision of quality service is at the very core of hospitality, requiring an understanding of customers' needs and an ability to pre-empt them. In a pandemic, with social restrictions and extra hygiene requirements, it has become even more crucial. Here are five tips for hoteliers on putting relationship building and effective communication at the heart of guest service.

Remember why you are here

Covid has made it so much harder to anticipate new and totally different needs. With things changing very quickly, requirements and expectations are more unpredictable.

But with the best will in the world, it is increasingly tough for hospitality businesses to deliver exceptional service and to adjust to fast-changing circumstances – even more so, given the severely restricted staff quotas. However, always remember that the hospitality sector is a service industry with a culture of building relationships and ensuring that guests enjoy a special moment.

Listen to verbal and non-verbal messages

Excellent guest service can be summed up as the kind of attention to detail that goes the extra mile. This requires being acutely attuned to customers' needs while being sure to read any non-verbal messages.

While customers will communicate through behaviour and reactions to specific situations, expert hospitality providers will be able to pick up on those messages and adjust to them. In other words, if the client looks like he or she is exhausted, it is better not to tell them to enjoy their day. The ability to listen is paramount. Guests need to feel they are the centre of everything.

Strive for perfection

A sense of perfection is non-negotiable: you must demand of yourselves, even if others would not demand of you. Aside from working out how to increase safety measures, elements such as fast internet connectivity, rooms suited for holding Zoom meetings in complete privacy, special recording equipment, green screens, microphones and technical support must be a consideration.

So too are the ‘softer' services, such as enhanced spa treatments or other services that can be delivered in rooms and suites to avoid the need for inhabitants to be exposed to external risk factors – not to mention services for children for a quarantining family.

Virtual and in-person opportunities

Hotels have done a sterling job remaining in touch with their customers through online initiatives, ranging from cocktail and yoga classes to bedmaking workshops. Now that travel is beginning to open up, hotels are also looking at options such as providing long-term stays with a range of services. Certain countries, such as the UAE, are offering special visas for expats wishing to work remotely from hotels. Other hotel chains are promoting deals to customers working from hotels or quarantining there, with one even offering tutorials for children who are in school remotely.

Respond to demand for luxury

In a time when many outside services are unavailable, guests are happy to upgrade and spend more money inside hotels on fine dining and spa experiences – services that may otherwise not be available amid restrictions. Many people are tired, stressed and in dire need of pampering. This is also fostering a significant ‘staycation' trend, with people remaining in their home countries (and even cities), while enjoying a romantic weekend at a hotel. This is proving quite a game-changer for hotels that did not previously tend to cater to a local clientele.

Dr Barbara Czyzewska is interim academic dean and head of luxury brand strategy specialisation at Glion Institute of Higher Education

Photo: Norenko Andrey/Shutterstock.com

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