Monday
Apr232012

« 17. Hospitality EQ: Help your B&B guests feel special »

Written by Rachel Green. Director, The Emotional Intelligence Institute.

Emotional intelligence may not seem very important to you if you are running a bed and breakfast or working in a related aspect of the hospitality industry. But it is.

Emotional intelligence is very important across the hospitality industry because you are dealing with people. People always come on holiday with emotions which need managing.

EQ skills: How people feel when they visit matters

People stay in a bed and breakfast, or other hotel accommodation, expecting a great emotional experience. They want to feel good, relaxed, pleased, happy, excited, or similar emotions.

Having you on site can help guests find the best time to see the tourist attractionsEven if people come to your bed and breakfast as part of their work they still want to feel comfortable, cared for, safe, looked after, well-fed, or similar emotions.

It is therefore important to the success of your bed and breakfast, your communication with your guests, and the way you set up your accommodation that you take the emotions of your guests into account.

Never underestimate your own importance either.

You give a human face to your bed and breakfast, and this connection with another person can make an enormous difference to how good your guests feel.

I am not a Bed and Breakfast owner but I am a bed and breakfast user. As I go from one B&B to another it fascinates me as to how people set up their B&Bs and what works and what doesn't.

Based on these experiences across a number of B&Bs, over the years, I offer the following suggestions, (but do bear in mind they will reflect my bias and possibly not the opinion of all guests).

This article is the fourth in a four-part series on emotional intelligence and EQ skills for bed and breakfast owners. This fourth article provides another five EQ skills on how to help your guests feel special.

EQ skills 1: Make your guests feel special

I have been to some fabulous B&Bs and one in particular did small extra things to pamper their guests. The cost of all this was probably well hidden in the price, as it wasn't cheap, but the way they did it made us feel special.

We were offered free afternoon tea each day. It consisted of home-made cake and tea – nothing more complicated than that, but we loved it, and we'd go back to this B&B again. We felt as though they really wanted their guests and enjoyed looking after us.

In another B&B the owner offered to go and get fish and chips for us all and we all sat around eating them having a good chat.

In another we had a pet kangaroo we could feed – what fun!

In stark contrast, in other B&Bs we have felt simply part of an amateur money making venture where people have only opened up their homes to get our cash. They have not appeared interested in us and have not gone out of their way to look after us in any way.

The feelings of your guests matter - your accommodation will be even more successful if you develop the emotional intelligence skills you need to manage the guests' emotions really well. Helping them to feel special is all part of that.

EQ skills 2: Be willing to give your guests your company

One of the reasons I go to B&Bs is to keep away from the sterile atmosphere and loneliness of motels and hotels. I enjoy meeting local people whether I am working in a town or visiting on holiday. B&Bs give a good way for visitors to meet local people.

Be willing therefore to talk to your guests and to spend some time with them. It is not easy being a B&B owner! However, you have chosen to do it so please be willing to strike up conversation with a wide range of people.

I have been to one B&B with two international visitors where we felt totally abandoned.

We had looked forward to meeting the people and on arrival we were shown to a cottage, shown where the breakfast was and then left to our own devices. We never saw the host or hostess again until we paid next morning.

As far as we were concerned this shouldn’t have been advertised as a B&B but as self-catering accommodation. There were four of us and we all felt let down. We certainly won’t go back to that one even though we have international visitors that we'll take to the area.

People come to a B&B for a reason, and part of that reason may be you. If you make yourself scarce your guests may become scarce too.

I even went to one so called "Bed and Breakfast" where the owner wasn't even on the premises; no one was. Guests had to let themselves in and out, and take their breakfast from the fridge. This was not a B&B as far as I was concerned, and was worse than going to a motel or hotel where at least they have someone on reception.

Having a friendly local on the spot gives me a buzz. A local can help me to get to know the area, to find out where the tourist spots are, to understand the place, and to make a connection with a real person. 

Your presence could help manage my emotions! Yes, this is another aspect of emotional intelligence: the ability to leave people feeling connected with you and your B&B.

EQ skills 3: Be sensitive to people’s religious affiliations

Avoid displaying religious material unless you have specifically advertised your religious background in advance and told people they are booking into a B&B with a specific religious background, (which some people will be pleased about.)

We arrived at one B&B to find that there were little religious cards left in strategic places not only in our bedroom but in the guest area as well. Coincidentally the next B&B we went to had the same thing. Some of your guests may find this off-putting.

For example, in one B&B one of my friends came out of her bedroom and exclaimed, "I don’t want to get stuck talking to the hosts on my own, they may try to convert me". She had been put-off by so much religious material, even in the sweet/lolly jar next to the bed.

There are so many different religions around and guests may be less comfortable with yours than you are. Be sensitive to this.

EQ skills 4: Always have ramps for easy access 

Some guests do not travel lightly. Others have physical health problems.

Please make it easy for them to enter your B&B without having to walk up stairs, or carry heavy items such as suitcases, upstairs. Many suitcases now come on wheels – make it easy for your guests to pull their suitcases to their rooms.

It is only a small thing but it all affects how your guests feel on arrival.

EQ skills 10: Allow guests to arrive early

I understand that you need to have a break between guests leaving and others arriving and from your point of view you may prefer to have check-in time no earlier than 5pm. However, for a guest such as myself, I can get frustrated when B&Bs don't let me arrive early afternoon.

Sometimes, it is quite simply that I don't want to travel with all my valuables in my car and would like to unload them before I go off and visit all the tourist spots. (Tourist cars packed with luggage can be a target for thieves.)

At other times, I want to change so I can go out and work, or I simply want to rest before I go out.

My experience is that I have had to leave one B&B at 10am and have been left "homeless" waiting to book into the next B&B, which was only 2 hours away, but didn't allow check-in until late afternoon. During that time I drove to the beach and went for a walk. While I did that my car was broken into and my computer stolen. Had I been able to go to my B&B this wouldn't have happened.

My ideal is check-in from 1pm onwards and certainly no later than 2pm. (It's not that everyone will want this but some may. People also won't necessarily want to spend time with you, they may simply want to unpack and go out again.)

I understand you may also work away from your B&B and it isn't physically possible to do this, but it is still a factor to consider.

When you make it easier for your guests, you make it easier for yourself, as you will have happier guests. Emotional intelligence is not a one way emotional street, it is also about your emotions too. It is much easier for you if you have happy guests to look after.

Develop your EQ skills, now

There is so much more that you and your team can do to develop your emotional intelligence, conversation skills and interaction skills in your hospitality business. The Institute has a number of options to help you:
  1. There are CDs, books and DVDs. The DVD "Business Networking: The skills you need" is ideal for B&B owners. It covers top tips on how to meet, greet and speak to people. You also receive a free copy of our networking checklist and a free copy of our "Top twelve talking topics" card to slip into your pocket or handbag.
  2. There is a series of advanced emotional intelligence master-classes
  3. There are high energy, interactive and practical emotional intelligence workshops. Of particular value in hospitality are: "Networking skills: Meet, speak and exit well" and "How to keep your cool with difficult people". 
  4. There is a dynamic keynote speech on networking and conversation skills: "Easy meet: Sizzling networking success" which will get your conference, seminar or event buzzing.
  5. There is 1-1 emotional intelligence coaching for business owners, managers and executives.

For more details or to make a booking e-mail us now or pick up the phone and call us and we will discuss your options with you.

Develop your emotional intelligence now and build your business.