I was touched by the humanist theories of welcoming and many researchers brought evidences in this area today. Welcome is described as a mutual exchange based on an inner journey. With a consequence: one cannot welcome authentically another person unless he welcomes himself first and be full of compassion and openness. These approaches enlighten the overall human management used today in the hotels and bring hope for a major change, only at the condition of a radical reversal of our manner of thinking.
In this article, I will expose some of these approaches that I used, based on the findings of psychiatrists and other researchers on this issue.
Welcome is a mutual human enrichment
In every meeting, the guest is always a new person in a new situation. That’s why, never the ability of welcoming could become a habit, or be standardized. Welcome builds a relationship in the present moment at each contact, and it becomes a successful experience when both are transformed in this relationship. Thus, welcome involves to work on one’s self to acquire this ability for welcoming (to give and receive).
It is not natural at first time, because welcome implies a willingness to welcome that challenges our daily comfort in life. It also concerns two dynamics: the will to give and the will to receive. And we cannot force someone to be welcomed. It involves the guest. Not only in the co- creation of the experience, but in opening his heart to receive attention, recognition, care and compassion. Some guests indeed want to get just a basic and timeliness service at their arrival or departure of the hotel. Businessmen for example, with just a self-check-in and check-out.
Welcome is a biological and healing process
A French psychiatrist, Doctor Paul Chauchard, considered the welcome as a substantial, and not an external activity to humans. We are biologically and cerebrally programmed as structures for the welcome. That’s why, love your neighbor as yourself is not only a Christian moral precept, it is the law of our balance. He stated also that selfishness is unbalancing, because contrary to our nature. But the total altruism is as much “because to love as ourselves, we should first love our self and learn to love by refusing selfishness.”
Loving one’s neighbor is thus a part of loving our self. And we could love our self only if we love our neighbor. It does not annihilate us, but it flourishes us, if we see it as a natural need of sympathy and not a moralistic constraint against our nature.
Learn to welcome the world and the others
A human being is a relational person. That’s why, he must have social relationships with others. But before that, he has to establish relationships with himself, welcoming his own body. Only then, he can start welcoming the others. The secret is to learn first to welcome the world, to welcome ourselves and accept the others.
There is therefore a need for reciprocity in the welcome. Welcome implies also the need to be welcomed. It is to recognize each other, consider the perspective of the other as it gets to us. The error is to consider that welcome is only giving. Welcome is first to receive, to listen, to accept the other. And consent to be welcomed as being the host. There lies the humility, another virtue of the welcome.
Hostmanship, a practical philosophy
Jan Gunnarsson launched this concept in a book in 2011. The novelty in his approach is that welcome is the art to put ourselves in the basket of others. It’s actually quite simple but it’s not natural because we usually treat others as we would like to be treated. We must change this habit and train constantly to enter into dialogue. The change is to treat others the way they would like to be treated with their personal desires, cultures and perceptions, as each person has different needs.
The philosophy leads to a very different posture of welcoming with challenging questions: What the guest expects from me and what is the current agreement? How can I put myself in his place, to get to know his point of view? How do I know what the guest really needs? How can I bring real added value? And this attitude has to be applied in the hotel and with the employees first. Because once employees are welcomed and treated like they want to be, they will also do it naturally with their guests. There lies the secret of an authentic welcome. The employees will be more productive, constantly thinking about solutions, and proud of their job and creations (leading to memorable emotions!). Obviously, the customers will also be more satisfied and joyful at the contact with happy employees, and they will start sharing their ideas.
The authentic welcome is like the spring of water that bursts from inside each person and refreshes in the same time both parties in the interactions, and the organization as an overall. It is a source of compassion, kindness and care that is freely given and received to build a nourishing and memorable welcome.
So, convinced? Ready to change?