As a conclusion on the welcome thesis, I want to bring in this article the two major debates that are present in any welcoming strategy. Authentic welcome needs a vision that is uncommon, a step in the system and a step ahead. It requires little sacrifices until it becomes natural and flowing from an inner sense. The innovative practices to enhance the welcome are really positioned there, in this less-travelled road… So if someone asks what is an authentic welcome, the response is simple: “For where your treasure is, there also will your heart and welcome be”.
Two different approaches of the welcome
1. The authentic welcome
On one hand, we find a welcome approach based on compassion and authenticity. It implies to focus all the energies on:
- Human contacts (numerous staff for a genuine welcome),
- A “family spirit” due to the uniqueness character of the hotel (capacity<100 rooms)
- The vision with a return to the essence of hospitality: generosity, feel at home, simplicity, attentiveness of every moment, freely given.
This type of welcome is privileged in small or exclusive luxury structures, exceptional palaces and recently in boutique hotels concepts. These structures are more flexible in management with opened and tech-savvy staff. Their strategy is also centered on the uniqueness character of the hotel and the loyalty of their guests.
2. The efficient welcome
On the other hand, there is the efficient welcome. More standardized and business oriented, although it provides a high standard quality of welcome in the chain hotels worldwide. The objective of the welcome in this case is:
- Providing a unique welcome that respects the global promise of the brand,
- Targeting a high traffic of customers with a large number of rooms (>300),
- Managing a high turn-over and seasonal staff, also old-aged properties.
Everything is organized for an industrial and seasonal activity. Traditional hotels are more orientated on efficiency with the daily management of a high capacity of rooms and customers. They also have old-aged buildings additionally to an important staff turnover. Their brands, offer a global promise with international standards valuable in every property in the world. There lies the limits to have an authentic welcome with each guest. The challenge is to introduce digital tools and applications to reduce the pressure on the staff and give them the opportunity and knowledge to welcome each guest personally, building together a true relationship.
The debate Technology vs Human in welcoming
Technology brings a service and a real improvement to do more in less time and access an infinite amount of information at the press of a button. But it’s essential in welcoming, and especially in luxury hotels, to retain the human touch. Some hoteliers even had to make a choice and clearly decided to give priority to high-touch and not high-tech.
It’s not an easy debate. Because technology is central to support the total guest experience and deliver tailored and personalized experiences. As customers’ needs are changing, it can also really enhance the welcome bringing additional services to the guest, giving direct access to personal choices and with benefits of time saving and customization.
Managers predicted that the real advantage is also to diminish the pressure on the welcome staff so that their job would evolve on new skills in customer relationship management and more value-adding tasks to satisfy the guests. But technology is also dedicated to better managing operations and maximizing overall performance while increasing efficiency and reducing costs.
There is two important threats that could damage the quality of welcoming in the future, due to technology: the reduction in staff members first, and secondly, technology devices that would never bring the qualities of a genuine human welcome.
As a conclusion, experts had in majority a positive vision on technology but stayed skeptical regarding the future and the possible costs-savings in personnel that will automatically compromise the welcome quality. The reference was the past. For example, the PMS tools were also expected to give the staff employees less administrative tasks in order to get closer to the guests. The result was downsizing and more work that lead to the present situation. For the managers in the field, the overall opinion is also caution because regular guests appreciate the traditional hotels and the Front-Office is very strategic and hard to change in a snap! Only incremental changes could be considered, step by step, to implement new practices on the most visible department of the hotel.