Emotional Skills: The Key to Hotel Customer Loyalty in 2030
By EHL Editorial Team
Tuesday, 5th May 2020

Achieving customer loyalty is becoming increasingly difficult in the hotel industry and emotional skills can make the decisive difference here.

Why is customer loyalty so important to hotels?

Achieving customer loyalty is the holy grail of hoteliers. This is because loyal guests have a greater lifetime value - providing recurring revenue to a hotel or hotel chain, perhaps for years or even decades.

Repeat customers are particularly valuable, as they generally cost less in terms of marketing and distribution. These customers are more likely to book direct, thus avoiding OTA fees and the need for expensive Google ads. In so doing, you gain additional financial flexibility, which can be spent on other priorities.

Hotel guests' needs and requirements will change by 2030

Hotel customers - especially those of high-end establishments - have become jaded and are ever more difficult to satisfy. They have seen and experienced a lot. In addition, the guests of nowadays increasingly show a certain ambivalence in their behavior. One day they get their business lunch at the food truck, another day they enjoy a fine dining experience in the exclusive restaurant of a grand resort.

But what remains in times of constant digital irrigation with content and online offerings is the need to be emotionally touched in the heart. Because in the end we are still all people with feelings.

What is therefore needed to cement customer loyalty is service that "surprises and delights" guests through highly personalized touches, or at least does not annoy them in some way. In order to achieve this goal, it is essential that employees are able to anticipate what a customer’s specific needs or wants are before he or she actually verbalizes them. This takes a lot of emotional skills.

Emotional skills are based on Emotional Intelligence (EQ)

The term ‘emotional intelligence' (EQ) was popularized by the psychologist Daniel Goleman. Emotional Intelligence (EQ) is defined as the ability to identify, assess, and control one’s own emotions, the emotions of others, and that of groups. This means that self-awareness is the cornerstone of EQ and without it, individuals have little chance of demonstrating other competencies, such as empathy and adaptability, which are crucial to the hotel industry.

The importance of Emotional Intelligence in hospitality service delivery

It is clear that a high level of emotional intelligence is essential for successful service delivery. A high level of emotional intelligence on the part of managers is essential for building a strong team that is motivated to give its best, whether in the kitchen, the dining room or at reception. In a team where feelings are valued and there is a culture of empathy and understanding, employees are more likely to feel and perform at their best. Not only does this make for a better guest experience, but it should have significant positive impact on employee retention levels and absenteeism.

How to train emotional skills?

Emotional intelligence and thus emotional skills revolve around self-awareness. In order to become more self-aware, one needs to constantly assess one’s own feelings and moods. It is important to understand why certain moods recur and what causes them. Constant feedback loops with experts, dealing with one's own emotional world, practicing non-verbal and verbal communication, as well as the innovative approach of acting lessons can be successful training methods.

The benefit of emotional competencies

The daily hotel business can sometimes take your breath away, as an employee you know your tasks and work. But in the sense of emotional intelligence, it is important to regularly take a break, look and listen. Not to stop, but to just pause and listen to each individual guest. Not listening can be the single biggest cause of service errors and the prime source of guest frustration. In addition, by not being aware, opportunities to pick up on cues that would allow staff to provide personalized service, may be missed.

If you see these opportunities and perceive the guest as an individual, you can create unique emotional experiences and build a relationship. This relationship, the surprise effect of unexpected little gestures and the knowledge that the hotel not only knows the needs and history, but appreciates each guest story, does make the customer wish to come back and in the end creates customer loyalty.

In addition, it can also enrich the everyday working life of employees. Didn't we enter the hospitality industry to deal with people and different cultures? Aren't the individual stories and experiences what distinguish our everyday work from a normal office job? In the same way that emotions will drive approval in guests, they will promote good feelings and a culture of empathy and emotional intelligence in a hotel’s staff.

Ecole hôtelière de Lausanne (EHL) is an ambassador for traditional Swiss hospitality and has been a pioneer in hospitality education since 1893. It has created and inspired a unique professional community of over 25,000 hospitality managers, united by the values and the legacy of EHL.

EHL is a leading university that provides learning solutions for enthusiastic, talented and ambitious students from over 100 different countries. With undergraduate, graduate and certificate programs, EHL offers its students a range of on-campus and online education opportunities at different stages of their professional journey.

EHL is regularly recognized as the best hotel management school in the world with the highest graduate employment rates in the industry. EHL is a member of EHL Holding SA, a Group dedicated to hospitality management education.

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