Being in the hospitality and tourism industry one meets hundreds of different guests – not one being the same. I sometimes wonder what makes them different, yet choose the same home away from home.
Even though choosing the same hotel or guesthouse to stay at, not one guest has the same expectations or interests. Some of it may be the same, but I’ve never met any guest who had the exact same “customer DNA” than another.
Here are a few things that differentiate one guest from the next. Keep it in mind for when your next guest arrives and see if you can understand them better when you know a little more about where they come from…
In South Africa alone we have more than 11 different local languages and even more different cultures. With such a rainbow nation, it is only natural to have different kinds of guests and that is just domestic! When we look at guests from foreign countries the gap becomes even bigger. Understanding foreign languages, cultural habits and lifestyles become a challenge in many ways, but also food to a true lover of hospitality and tourism.
Levels of Education
Whether we want to know it or not, the level of education plays a very important role in a guest’s manner of dealing with certain situations. Professionalism, understanding, knowledge and communication skills are but a few characteristics that will differentiate a man with a degree from a man who has never finished high school. There are exceptions to the rule and therefore it might be better to rather refer to experience than education. Someone with more experience will evidently be more professional, understand better, know more and communicate better.
Experience also comes with age. Therefore an older person will have better communication skills than a youngster. They will obviously also have different expectations and needs and therefore it is important to be able to cater for both guest types.
Men and women have been said to come from Mars and Venus respectively, so why would we treat them as if they have the same needs and expectations? Women enjoy the finer things in life while men are mostly happy with a braai and a beer. Once again there are exceptions to the rule.
This can be related to many things – where they grew up, who their friends are, genes, culture and more. This just means to say, once again, that not one guest is the same.
People have different interests. Some enjoy arts and culture (which is one of the top reasons for travel in 2014 according to a survey done by American Express Travel). Others like nature and sports or even history. Getting to know what your guest’s interests are might make understanding them a little easier.
A parent will be a different kind of guest in comparison to a student for example. Parents are much more careful and considerate, while students can sometimes act impulsively and appear to be a little more selfish (in a good way…or bad).
Everyone has a story. Your hotel or guesthouse too. Some people like sharing them, others don’t. Some people are happy with their stories, others not so much. Some have just gotten married, others just lost a loved one. Knowing these things about your guest might help you to give them the best customer experience they’ve ever had.
Share in your guest’s stories
I once read somewhere about a business traveler who carried a photo of his daughter with him everywhere he went. He stayed at one hotel quite often and left the photo on his bed side table during his stay. One evening when he returned from work the photo had been framed and put next to his bed. The cleaner thought it well. On departure he asked the receptionist who had framed his photograph and she explained that the cleaner had noticed him carrying the photo with him everywhere he went and that she wanted to help him protect it. He then told the receptionist that the girl in the picture was his daughter who recently passed away.
Get to know your guests. Share in their stories. Make them feel at home.