Ten Steps to Improve Hospitality Communication

You’re celebrating your anniversary at a nice restaurant, you order your favorite meal, it’s going to be a wonderful night… but the waiter is in a bad mood, the order is late, and the food is not what you wanted, you can hear an argument in the kitchen… You won’t be going to that restaurant again, and you’ll tell all your friends too.

Bad communication is bad news anywhere, and in the hospitality industry in particular. So how can we prevent Hospitality communication calamities?

1. Have well-trained staff. If you can’t hire well trained staff, find people who are keen workers and willing to learn, and train them yourself. In fact, some employers prefer to train their own staff, rather than re-train experienced staff to meet their standards. Well trained staff is the key to providing professional service.

2. Hospitality is all about service; stress that to your staff. Hospitality staff often serve people who are on vacation; they might have saved all year long for this one holiday, they are paying good money and deserve the best service you can give them and nothing less. They expect friendly and professional service and you and your staff are there to make sure they get it.

3. Good, two-way communication between all levels of staff in any hospitality business is essential to smooth and cost-effective running of your operation. When service staff at your cafe inform management that they are constantly running out of certain items on the menu, and nothing is done about it, it’s bad hospitality communication, and bad for business. Act ASAP and your staff will know that you value their work and share their goal of providing the best service they can give.

4. Fulfill your guest’s expectations. Good hospitality communication between staff and guests starts with good office work – you, as management, need to provide your staff with the best tools they need to offer the guests the service they expect. When guests arrive in their hotel room expecting free internet service, as advertised on the hotel’s website, and find they have to pay for it, they raise their displeasure with reception staff, who are not to fault in this case. Somewhere along the line, someone provided incorrect information. A typical case of bad communication and bad feelings, that could easily have been avoided.

Make sure all the right information is passed on between different levels and departments. Make sure marketing staff is well informed, and advertise only what you know you can deliver. Building unrealistic expectations results in untold disputes – not good for business.

5. As the world is becoming increasingly digitized, ‘computerizing’ your business has become a necessity. Good hospitality management software is an essential tool these days. With the wide range offered, you are bound to find one that suits your needs and budget. From the basic hand-held PDA system for communicating between kitchen and serving staff, to an all-round management package that covers everything from inventory and hotel room reservations to an online booking facility for guests. The initial investment will streamline all communication channels and pay out in the long run.

6. Communicating with foreign tourists: You can’t expect your staff to be fluent in all the foreign languages that they might encounter at work, but they should be aware of different cultures and respect them. Ignorance of cultural practices can upset guests unnecessarily, and we all want to avoid that.

Training your reception and wait staff in a few foreign language greetings will do a world of good to your business, by making your foreign guests feel just a little bit at home in your hotel or restaurant. It doesn’t take that much, really.

7. Well informed staff: Make sure all your restaurant staff know the menu inside out and can answer any query regarding the day’s specials. You will not impress your customers with wait-staff that have to run and ask the chef about the menu. Reception staff should be well informed about the region and be able to give advice and get information on the local attractions, transport, entertainment etc. It’s part of the service your hotel guests expect to get – and you don’t want to disappoint them with ignorant staff.

8. Quick response: If you run a food takeaway kitchen, your customers come to you for the food, not to sit and wait for it. Service has to be quick. The same applies to just about every other service in the hospitality industry, and an important part of good communications is quick response. Whether it’s answering emails about reservation or other inquiries, providing service at the reception desk, or getting that meal on the table without delay. It’s vital to the good reputation of your business.

9. Listen to your guests. Sometimes it’s the little things that make the difference in customer satisfaction, and those can be easily overlooked in the busy hospitality environment. This is where your guests or customers can help – if you let them. Make it easy for them to let you know about things that they think can make your business give better service. You might not agree with them, but it never hurts to listen. Some customers are happy to let their complaints be known to everyone, and it’s your job to make sure that every guest response gets conveyed to the supervisor or management (by ensuring proper hospitality communication channels). But others prefer to voice their complaint or suggestion anonymously, so make it easy for them, by placing suggestion/service evaluation cards in hotel rooms and service desks – let your guests know you value their feedback.

10. Listen to your staff: Your staff is your hospitality communication line to your customers. Listen to what they have to say. They will know that you value their opinion, and the changes you make will make them feel good in their work environment and proud of their job. You can be assured your customers will sense that they are being served by happy staff who want happy guests. And happy guests will come back for more positive experiences and pass on the word to friends and family. And that’s what good hospitality communication is all about.