The power of a warm welcome: creating memorable hospitality experiences

The power of a warm welcome: creating memorable hospitality experiences

What we should all remember in the hospitality industry is that we need to put people first. Our primary aim is taking care of customers and fulfilling their needs and expectations. What makes the services we provide memorable is when we are able to personalise them and make customers feel they are being treated exclusively.

Hospitality organisations have the power to make emotional connections with their customers and this is an industry that depends on experiences and feelings, so it is super important to create long-lasting memories. And great first impressions that influence the customer experience.

While providing value, tailoring services and making things easier for customers helps deliver a positive experience, what elevates things to the level of truly memorable is often the little details.

For example, one Halloween I noticed a customer who was with their grandchild admiring our display, so I started chatting and asked the child what was their greatest wish. She replied: a purple unicorn. While they were out, I managed to find a toy purple unicorn, which I left in their room. This little gesture didn’t cost much, but it created an impression that has likely lasted ever since.

What these emotional connections create is long-term engagement and loyal customers. This can lead to customers becoming advocates and ambassadors for your establishment, which can go a long way towards improving your bottom line.

Antonio Gómez is Rooms Division Pathway Coordinator at Les Roches and a former hotelier.

Why is delivering the best customer experience important today?

Since we have established lasting memories are associated with customer loyalty and ultimately the bottom line, delivering exceptional experiences is clearly critical for hospitality. While that has been true for as long as the industry has existed, it has never been more important than it is today. And that is for a number of reasons.

Principal among these is the huge amount of competition in the industry. Customers around the world have more choice than ever before and also many more ways of interacting with hospitality businesses and purchasing services from them thanks to the proliferation of online travel agents (OTAs).

For example, according to Statista Research Department estimates, more than 2,700 new hotels will open in 2024. That means hotels need to go even further to stand out from what is already a crowd. Not only that, with the power of social media and online reviews to cause serious damage to a brand’s reputation, delivering great customer experience can mean the difference between thriving or barely surviving.

That is why unforgettable experiences are now more important than ever and, for me, that means harnessing the power of a warm welcome. Remember, we only have one shot to make a great first impression. And that first impression can affect so much.

If you create a great first impression, you are setting the right tone and giving the customer the belief they made the right choice as soon as they arrive, which is a powerful emotional connection. From that moment on, the customer believes you are there to fulfil their needs and desires. Obviously, if you deliver a poor customer experience, the opposite happens and you have created a situation where they are more likely to complain. And crucially, post details of their negative experience on the internet where other potential customers can see them.

The role of technology in enhancing the customer experience

While technology can pose potential reputational challenges for hospitality businesses, increasingly it is providing them with opportunities to further improve the customer experience. For decades, we have been using technology to streamline operations and make our processes more efficient. Now, it is enabling us to do something perhaps even more important: getting to know our customers better.

If you want to fulfil the needs and expectations of your customers, obviously the first step is to identify them. And now, we have many solutions – often powered by AI – that are enabling us to understand not only what customers are looking for but also where they are looking for it, how long they spend on our websites, which services they are searching for, and many other things. These insights help us anticipate and deliver on customer expectations and desires and make it easier for us to tailor our services towards their individual preferences. That is exactly the kind of thing that elevates customer experience from the good to the great.

What technology has also allowed us to do is make customer journeys – for example, customer interactions with the hotel – more convenient for them. We are now so accustomed to unlocking our devices with fingerprints and contactless payments that consumers are expecting this level of convenience when they go to a hotel.

Hospitality is in the business of making people feel ‘at home’, so it is right we should be offering customers the same levels of convenience they experience there, such as choosing their own TV channels and controlling the air conditioning with their mobile devices. Emerging technologies have enabled us to introduce all kinds of innovations that help us deliver that ‘at home’ sensation that makes customers feel their needs and desires are being looked after.

We should not expect technology to replace the human touch that is so vital to hospitality, we are seeing it enable us to exceed our customers’ expectations, which is incredibly important in the modern age. What’s more, customers do not mind paying extra for a service when it feels exclusively for them. Thanks to technology, we have the data we need to deliver on that.

How can memorable customer experiences distinguish your brand from the competition?

Customers naturally gravitate towards brands that have a reputation for delivering exceptional experiences. They want to be a part of the brand’s legend, are willing to pay extra for the privilege, and are happy to remain loyal customers.

That is why brands that prioritise positive customer experience above everything else are the ones who are rewarded with the kind of prized reputation that inspires customer loyalty and advocacy. In fact, they recognise that only by delivering great customer experiences can they drive the results they are looking for and perform financially to the extent they desire.

So the key to differentiating your brand from the others is consistently delivering excellence in customer service. But how do you do that in practice?


Learning how to create memorable brand experience

You need to concentrate not only on first but also last impressions. They are equally important.

While first impressions set the tone, last impressions will be what makes the difference between basic customer satisfaction and a customer actively promoting your brand due to their outstanding experience.

And that means having the right attitude. Yes, you need to make sure your focus is on delivering on customer needs and desires. But it is about more than that. It is about having a ‘people first’ mentality and that covers customers and employees. If your employees are proud to work for your organisation and love being part of your brand’s legend, that will be reflected in the service they deliver. It is important to understand the needs and desires of your employees as well as keeping customers happy.


Four ways to deliver the best customer experience consistently

Much of how to create a memorable customer experience boils down to attitude. While there is not really a ‘one-size-fits-all’ checklist of customer experience strategies you must apply, some of the things you can do that will help create happy customers include:


  • Be friendly, warm and genuine. It is difficult to overstate how important this is to not only being able to deliver a great welcome but also in helping you build close and lasting customer relationships.
  • Get to know your customers. This is really essential in the hospitality industry and will help you hyper-personalise the services you offer, which helps create brand loyalty and advocacy when done right.
  • Follow up with customers. This is related to the other two, but it does nor cost anything to ask customers if everything is to their satisfaction or whether they need anything. Spending that little bit of time with your customers will not only allow you to gauge their levels of satisfaction, it lets them know you care.
  • Put yourself in your customers’ shoes. Think carefully about how you would like to be treated when you arrive at a hotel. What would make the experience memorable for you? Sometimes it is the little details that make the difference, so ask yourself what would make you delighted with the service you are receiving.


Above all, what really makes the difference is the mindset you have. While getting the basics is important – and that is as true for organisations as it is for individuals – what elevates the customer experience from the good to the great is the ‘people first’ attitude. Get that right and you will go a long way towards differentiating your brand from the crowd.