The Evolution of a Welcome


The Evolution of a Welcome

Male and female guests chatting and smiling

Once entirely based on human interaction, the all-important welcome extended to guests has experienced something of an evolution over the past few years, thanks to the use of increasingly sophisticated technology in the industry. Whether it's Village Hotel's provision of tablets for self-service check-in or Accor's online check-in facility, technology now plays a key role in modern hospitality, serving to reduce queues and enable guests to start enjoying their experience sooner.

Whilst substituting team members for technology might seem a risky strategy, 75% of guests agree they're more likely to trust a business that uses up-to-date tech; incorporating it into the welcome process can't fail to make a good impression. However, according to our mystery guest feedback, human interaction is still an essential element of a memorable welcome.

Examples of this included a recommendation for a pop-up restaurant - suggested by a guest as they made their way to their room after check-in - and a personalised greeting from front-of-house staff in the hotel bar on the first night. Additionally, humour applied well was flagged up as a memorable way of breaking the ice. A welcome which combines positive human interaction to complement the efficiency technology affords seems to set the tone amongst guests.

Even with fast-turnaround coffee or sandwich shops, our mystery guest research shows those first few seconds of interaction offer a key opportunity to get the welcome right. A sincere greeting along with eye contact and acknowledgement, even if a member of staff is dealing with another customer, conveys warmth and friendliness – the cornerstones of a memorable welcome.

With operators embracing the growing trend in the fast-food sector to remove the human element entirely – think the self-service kiosks of Tossed – the welcome is grounded in décor, cleanliness and efficiency of service. There is even a restaurant in Japan experimenting with robot waiters. However, operators would do well to remember that a common complaint from guests is when customer service appears 'robotic'. The human touch in hospitality shows no sign of being redundant just yet.

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