While the hospitality industry is moving towards emotions and focusing on the guest and his or her needs, the host's ability to communicate is becoming increasingly important. The communicative activities must always be put into context and take into account that emotions are socially supported and individual, and that they can also differ culturally. The culture code of each individual guest has to be considered in the communication.
Employers are looking for young communicative talents
An educational degree in tourism and hospitality management leads everywhere, hospitality skills are sought after by many industries and companies. One of the priority skills hotel management students learn during their studies is communication. But it doesn't stop there, hospitality students also understand the culture code of their guests and their counterparts. In other words, they know about the cultural background and take it into account in the service they provide to their customers.
Hospitality graduates therefore have the ability to work within a team structure, to communicate and organize work. These competences are among the five most sought-after skills of future employers. Employees in the hospitality industry have a range of settings in which they can use their talents, skills, and education.
What do emotional competencies and communication have in common?
The importance to master verbal and nonverbal communication
Most people believe that speech is our main form of communication. In reality, oral communication is a fairly recent development in the history of human evolution. Per definition verbal communication is the sharing of information between a sender and a receiver by way of speech. It is vital that when communicating the message hotel businesses and employees are sending is understood in the way that it was intended, and that communication is not distorted.
But before speech was developed, humans relied on body language and sounds to transport attitude, emotions and feelings. Nowadays, nonverbal communication, which includes body language, the use of personal space, facial expressions and tonation, still makes up approximately 65 percent of our communications.
While verbal communication is often used to carry facts and data, nonverbal communication articulates our physical, mental, or emotional states of hotel or restaurant customers. Hospitality is a highly interactive and people-focused business and it is therefore important to hotel managers and staff to master both ways of communication.
Hospitality is moving away from pure service to emotion economy
In times of digitalization, emotions and unique experiences are increasingly sought-after by travelers, hotel and restaurant guests. Today's guests are not just looking for a roof over their heads or delicious food, but a unique experience. Emotions crystallize as one of the most important factors for the individual well-being of guests.
By appealing to emotions and creating experiences, society is inevitably moving towards the creation of an individualized, emotional feel-good factor. Welcome to the Emotion Economy!
The competence to construct emotionally charged experiences
The hospitality industry must therefore create experience-oriented services that are associated with emotions. In order to create conscious and positive emotions for guests, the entire sensory spectrum must be activated, and verbal and non-verbal communication taken into account. Because only emotionally charged experiences succeed in anchoring themselves in the long-term memory of guests, creating guest satisfaction and loyalty and thus generating a decisive competitive advantage.
“So at its core, the Affective Hospitality vision of SSTH can be defined as the strategic, operative and tactical provision of experiential, culturally mindful interaction scenarios to evoke conscious inert and positive guest emotions by activating the entire sensory range through controlled verbal and non-verbal communication.”
Best ways to implement communication in the Emotion Economy
In order to create specific positive emotions in the context of hospitality and specific hotel and restaurant environments, the ingredients of the unique hospitality experience need to be conveyed either verbally or non-verbally. Of particular interest here are how emotion elicitation is communicated and how a guest’s emotional experience can be recognized.
Researchers and forerunners have developed various methods to best implement and optimize the two communication methods in hospitality, here are a few examples:
On the verbal communication level, Cynthia Whissel developed a Dictionary of Affect in Language which she analyses several thousand English words in terms of their emotional position. This tool enables hotel managers and marketing departments to formulate positive emotive texts and images (through semantic meta text) in the pre- and post-stay context. However, the dictionary is only in English and, as it was mentioned previously, emotions are socially supported and therefore culturally dependent.
Non-verbal communication materializes through the five human senses as well as interception, which can be defined as a subjective experience of the body state. For instance, providing an open fire in a hotel lounge triggers a guest’s emotional perception of «pensiveness» due to silent flame movements, the redish colour of the flame and the haptic sensation of warmth. In addition, interoceptive body experience of «pensiveness» is enhanced due to a reduced oxygen-content in the lounge. On the other side of the spectrum, American sport shops use oxygen-enriched air in their stores to make customers «feel good and more active» with the aim to up-sell their sports product range.