Top Ten Five-Star Hospitality Tips

by Emma Jacobs

  1. Welcome your guest with a warm, friendly smile. If they are returning guests, welcome them back. We make a note of repeat guests on our check-in list. Verbalise that you are happy to have your guest with you: “Lovely to have you (back) with us Busi”.
  2. Use your guest’s name, and use it correctly. In the diverse South African context, some guests’ names are hard to pronounce, or people prefer a nick-name or second name to be used. Keep a record of this for when they return for their next visit. Ask you guest how to pronounce their name and make sure you get it right.
  3. Tell them your name: Introduce yourself and make sure you have a name badge, so that if they need a refresher the next morning at breakfast, they can glance quickly at your badge. Badges for all staff distinguishes who they can ask for help from, if they need it.
  4. Engage them with polite questions. This will be handy later when you need to introduce people. It also shows you are interested in them. It must be about them and not you.
  5. Introduce guests to other guests when appropriate. This allows them to engage with each other, and takes the pressure off you as the host. Introductions involving Corporate guests should include, name, company and where they are from. If you don’t know, then ask. You need to keep your wits about you, and keep introducing guests as they come in. It is amazing how often guests have a mutual connection, e.g. they have a client/supplier relationship, or their companies are colleagues in the same industry etc. Networking can happen anywhere, so long as the only thing poached at your table is eggs, then let them carry on!
  6. Hospitality with boundaries: personal yet professional service should be your guide on this one. You don’t want guests sitting on your couch between you and your hubby while the 5-day cricket match is on. Being overly inquisitive, could come across as being invasive. Let your guest guide you on the level of your hospitality.
  7. Pre-empt your guest’s needs: If your guest had Tabasco with their breakfast yesterday, pass it to them before he needs to ask for it today. If your guest wanted something you didn’t have, put it on your shopping list and place it next to him when he comes through for breakfast the next day. If your guest sneezes pass them the tissues. If they are coughing pour them a glass of water. Don’t make a fuss of it. Just do it. Seamless Hospitality is what it is all about.
  8. Acknowledge loyal guests in front of other guests: nothing says thank you to guests more than telling other guests at the breakfast table how many years they have been staying with you. They beam like peacocks. And so, they should. Loyal repeat business, separates great B&B’s from average ones.
  9. Look after vulnerable guests: older, frail, grieving, sick, or otherwise compromised guests need extra special care. Often their family members will let you know ahead of time that they have had a stroke, or now have a crutch, etc. Make sure you accommodate this and that your guest themselves does not feel like they are a burden to you.
  10. Don’t overdo it: Give people space, whether it be so say Grace before they eat, to chat to new friends around the table, or to have a business meeting with a colleague. Being too Hospitable is almost worse than not being hospitable at all.

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