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7 Small Touches to Personalize the Guest Experience

Personalization in the hospitality industry doesn’t always require high technology: sometimes it needs a human touch

It’s so true that it’s almost come to sound trite: business is all about relationships. Technology like apps and chatbots offer important and efficient ways to personalize the guest experience. But a human touch will always be key to building and maintaining relationships.

“All of us are emotionally driven to want to form relationships,” Roberta Nedry, president of GEM Journal, has stated. “Hospitality experiences are built upon a series of relationships at each touch point of the guest experience.”

Here are seven easy and nearly effortless ways you can train and encourage your staff to personalize the guest experience by building relationships:

  1. Use names, always. Learning and using guest names is one of the simplest and best ways to personalize a stay. This hospitality blogger recalls being floored when he was approached in a Four Seasons hotel bar with, “Good evening, Mr. Jenkins. Would you like to see our drinks menu?” He writes: “I looked up at the waiter with an expression of pure amazement. How did he know my name?” Remember: research using brain scans shows that the sweetest sound is your own name.
  2. Send pre-and post-check-in messages. A guest may need extra help just before and just after check-in. So it’s a good idea to send them a text or email to make sure they know how to get to the hotel and to remind them of check-in time and other basics. And it’s also wise to touch base again right after check-in to see how they’re settling in and ask if they need anything.
  3. Leave a small local treat in the room. One role of a good host is to introduce a visitor to local delights. So surprise and delight your guests by leaving a small local treat in their room. This does double duty: it acts as a token of appreciation and an introduction to the local culture. For example, you could leave locally made soap or lotion, jam, tea or candy. One guest years later still fondly remembers a basket of local treats they got at a small B&B in Cornwall, England. They called it “the best arrival gift of all.”
  4. Write a personalized note. The more common apps, virtual concierges and other hospitality technology becomes, the more a personal handwritten note stands out. Leaving a pretty penned note in a guest room can really make a good impression. Use the gesture to welcome the guest and ask them to let you know if there’s anything you can do to make their stay more enjoyable.
  5. Show them the way. If a guest asks where the gym or ice machine is, and you have the time, offer to personally escort them there. This type of personalized service and extra effort, making sure they make it to their destination without wandering around in frustration, speaks volumes about how much you care.
  6. Offer an insider tip. Guests are relying on you for your knowledge of the area, from local restaurants to attractions and must-sees. Use your local expertise to offer guests special little tips they won’t find in a guidebook – whether it’s the coffee shop tucked away around the corner that serves the freshest brew to a great spot to have a drink and watch the sunset.
  7. Offer preferential treatment. You won’t always be able to offer every guest preferential treatment, of course. But if you happen to have an opportunity, a guest will remember being graciously escorted to a nice little corner table with a lovely view or receiving a surprise room upgrade and a long day of travel.

So much of the “human touch” depends on your staff going above and beyond, that it’s smart to try to “catch” your employees in the act and reward this type of personalized above-and-beyond service when you see it. You can even encourage employees to “report” each other for these little moments of service excellence.