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Tips to Make a Lasting First Impression in the Hospitality Industry

First Impression in the Hospitality Industry

From an online presence to the hotel lobby, guests are subconsciously taking notes from the beginning.

Do you know how long it takes for people to make judgments of others? Within the first 100 milliseconds of meeting someone.

Although guests may not interact with your hotel staff right away – that’s how crucial timing can be. Realistically, hotel staff needs to make a lasting impression within the first 15 minutes of walking in the lobby.

And there are many places this can go awry – unless you train to capitalize on guest experience from the very beginning.

“There are endless opportunities to create an exceptional service experience through that first impression,” said Roberta Nedry, founder of Hospitality Excellence. “Studies show that guests, customers, and clients remember the first and the last things that take place.”

Use the following tips to improve every situation where a first impression can be made.

1. The website

Roughly, 2 in 3, mobile smartphone users expect web pages to load in fewer than four seconds, according to hospitality education and insight site eHotelier.

In addition to load time, provide a clean aesthetic look with images pleasing to the eye. It’s 2020, and your website better reflect that. Website first impressions are 94% design related.

Make sure to provide secure payment and booking. The Marriott data breach was only a few years ago, and data protection is a huge concern in hospitality in the digital age.

To provide trust to users, add testimonials and customer reviews from TripAdvisor, Expedia,, and the like.

2. Internet presence

Every brand should be aware of social media presence nowadays. Interacting with guests is incredibly vital to show there are caring human beings running the business. Replying to customer feedback is essential to evolving with the ever-changing digital world.

“Taking time to find out what guests think can really lead to enhanced service delivery, greater customer loyalty, and increased profitability,” Nedry said. “Sometimes, they are thrilled to tell us and we get more business and new ideas on what to leverage more aligned business strategies.” 

3. Check-in

This is a crucial step in the process of excellent customer satisfaction. From the hotel courtyard to the lobby should be immaculate. All staff along the way should be friendly – especially those working the front desk.

The check-in experience sets the tone for the rest of a guest’s stay. Research from Cornell University shows that guest satisfaction goes down 50% if check-in takes longer than five minutes.

Everything from the initial greeting to the way they answer phone calls tells how the staff wants guests to feel. An attentive front desk agent will make or break that lasting impression.

4. Cleanliness

A 2018 study from Trivago revealed that 71% of guests expect “above average” cleanliness ratings when choosing a hotel.

Litter, clutter, strange smells – cleanliness doesn’t start in the rooms. The hotel property can be dirty from outside in the parking lot and continue inside to the front lobby. The No. 1 cause of customer dissatisfaction and complaints in hospitality are due to neglect to clean and disinfect.

“Making sure clean is clear and constant for guests is a critical facet of service excellence,” Nedry said. “When places, people or things are not clean, the organization hosting those ‘unclean’ environments makes a statement that they do not care and that there are other priorities which take precedence.”