Affective Hospitality

June 28, 2019 •

4 min reading

Affective Hospitality

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The EHL Swiss School of Tourism and Hospitality Passugg in Switzerland is breaking new ground to train a new generation of hotel managers. A strong focus is placed on emotional hospitality in order to provide managers with skills that will enable them to establish an emotional connection with their guests at all times.

A guest article by Philip Griesser, published in TopHotel magazine on 4 February 2020


Smell, taste, hear, see, touch: the gastronomic project "Elysium" in Passugg is intended to appeal to all the senses. The emotions evoked in this way remain in the memory of the guests.

The hotel industry is first and foremost a people business, both from an internal business perspective and from the perspective of the external customer. Many areas of activity involve direct customer contact, such as the individual allocation of tables, daily work at the reception or the complex management in the spa and wellness area.

Personal interaction skills are essential for business success. The key to success lies in the implementation, in the use of one's own emotional intelligence and the resulting enthusiasm of the guests. In this context, emotional intelligence (EI) describes the ability to recognize and control one's own emotions and those of the other person.

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The guest establishes an emotional relationship with the host company through an experience-oriented encounter - and ideally this results in loyalty, so that guests advance to regular guests.

Affective Hospitality redefines the boundaries between host and guest and strengthens the position of hospitality staff. You create live and on place communities and generate lasting, emotional experiences. People have strong affective experiences in any hotel - whether they are on business or pleasure travel. All these experiences remain connected to the hotel and its brand.

On closer reflection, the aim is not to create a single individual event, but to offer an outstanding stay that is defined by a multitude of different emotional experiences. This is like a theatre play, which lives from an arc of tension, which is characterised by constantly new highlights. These emotional experiences must touch and appeal to as many senses as possible. The gastronomic project "Elysium" in Passugg serves as a best-practice example of a multi-sensory approach that has been proven to trigger many emotions in guests.


The aim was to take the guests into a new world of culinary pleasure in a unique way. In addition to the gustatory experience, the prototype restaurant "Elysium" also addresses the visual, olfactory, auditory and tactile perception, and this in the storytelling format of an extraordinary journey: In a unique art form, exclusive gourmet cuisine is combined with the latest digital achievements to create a unique experience.

GM with training as Stage Director

Affective hospitality means that the hotel management adapts to each guest individually, putting itself in the guest's shoes. However, this understanding requires a variety of soft skills, the correct application of which is a competence-oriented learning process. In times of digitalization and automation, the hotel employees of the future will need social and emotional intelligence to differentiate themselves. They will have to learn to cultivate their creativity, collaborative action, abstract and systemic thinking and complex communication skills.

The so-called Affective Hospitality Curriculum is a roadmap for how these skills can be put into practice. It consists of a range of courses, from teaching skills in the hospitality industry to training "stage directors": the aim is also to strengthen self-confidence, self-regulation, motivation and social awareness. The training of enthusiastic hosts with a good feeling for themselves and for their colleagues enjoys absolute priority.

The goal: If the new generation of hospitality managers is enabled to build an emotional bond with guests through emotional communication, this can also have a positive influence on the image of the industry. Ideally, loyalty also means that the inspiring, memorable experiences during the hotel stay are considered very appreciative by the guests and are thus also passed on in an appreciative manner.