To Live and Recognise the Entrée to Your Hotel.
By Hugo Mechelse
Sunday, 8th February 2009
A while ago, I wrote an article on the telephone being the hidden entrance to your hotel - 

Now, the question is: what is happening at your real entrance? Do you ever consider this? Do you regularly sit in a chair, near the entrance, just observing what is really going on there? Or opening that door for the guest yourself once in an while?

In one of his recent articles Mr. Ragsdale Hendrie mentioned the ‘Chief Experience Officer'. I like that ‘title', as we all are looking for just that: the best experience for the guest.

What we are talking about here is making sure that the very first moment a guest steps into you hotel, he must be thrilled. He must feel relieved and in love instantly. In love with your staff, in love with your hotel, the lobby, the floor, the light, in all: the atmosphere. Yes, this is where he will feel at home for the duration of his stay.

Does this ‘just' happen to every guest stepping into your lobby? Of course not. It's all about making a striking first impression. But who gives this first impression in the first place? Sit down and think about this. Or better still, put yourself in the position of the guest, and live the arrival of the guest. S

tep into that limo or that taxi and see, feel what happens when you arrive at your own hotel. When you do this you will realise that the very first impression is simply made up by what the guest sees: the light, the cars, a doorman, a bellman, the red carpet, trees, flowers, people sitting inside, the uniform, a friendly smile.

And, off course, that first remark of your staff welcoming the guest to the hotel. And I can tell you, this first remark sticks. I still remember once being addressed with "Welcome back, Sir", with a big smile. That sounds really warm and homecoming if I had indeed been to this hotel before. I had not. What do you mean ‘welcome back'? But still, the intention of that staff member was good. The guest should feel ‘at home away from home'.
It is the quick accumulation of impressions, big, small, positive, negative, that make up for that ‘first impression'. A mere three seconds it takes, when me meet a person to make a first impression. After that, one starts to look for confirmation or corrections of this first impression. But there is no such a thing as a standard procedure or phrase for this. What one ought to do is to observe, make a quick assessment and react upon that.

And a good doorman can do this. He is capable to make that assessments and find the right words. This can be as little and casual as a remark about the weather, or indeed, if we do know this guest has been to the hotel before: ‘Welcome back, Sir' (depending on who he is travelling with of course!).
Point to take here is to realise that besides that hidden entrance to your hotel, there is off course also that physical real entrance. This is where your guest makes up his mind about feeling at home or not.

And besides the easy ‘hardware' part, the nice flowers and the perfectly clean and well kept entrance, there is your ‘software'. Your best members of staff should be around here, being host and ambassador at the same time. Go out yourself and live the experience yourself.
Hugo Mechelse is a consultant and trainer as well as part-time butler. His company International Butlers provides world wide support in enhancing the skills and knowledge of hospitality and private staff in order to create a comfortable environments for guests and private families: www.internationalbutlers.com , hugo@internationalbutlers.com
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