Making a Great First Impression

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February 10, 2016

Last week I attended an off-Broadway performance of "The Illusionists".  The show featured 6 amazing illusionists that wowed the audience with jaw dropping magic and illusions; everything from making people vanish into thin air to a Houdini-Style lock and chain escape from an ice cold water tank.   The illusion that blew me away most, was when one of the performers inserted a quarter into his eye socket (ouch) and then made it reappear under the skin of his forearm – which he had to cut out to remove.  Was this real …hard to say … but it looked real. So as an audience member, the illusions were interpreted by my perception which drive my reality.  By the end of the show…I was impressed!

So what does this have to do with guest service; actually quite a bit.  When a guest enters a your hotel what do they see, hear, touch and taste?  How do we make them feel?  The guest’s perception of his or her experience is “their reality” regardless of the staff intentions.  

Like the Illusionist, hotel staff can influence the guest’s perception.  While there are many actions that contribute to a fabulous service experience, it is the first impression that sets the stage for a positive and personalized interaction. In general, most people form a first impression in a matter of seconds.  You only get one chance to impress, so make it count!  Below are five strategies for making a great first impression.

5 Tips for Making a Great First Impression

1.Your Personal Appearance Counts:  As shallow as it may seems, people make snap judgements based on how you present yourself.  Are you dressed appropriately? Is your hair combed and nails clean?  Proper grooming and a neat professional appearance are essential to making a positive 1st impression.

2. Simply Smile:  Smiling is a universal gesture of warmth and friendliness understood around the world.  When someone smiles at you, it’s hard not to smile back.  A genuine smile is the first step in connecting with your guest and serves to make them feel valued an appreciated. 

3. Exude Confidence and Approachability:  Did you know that your body language can be a stronger communication vehicle than the words you speak.  You can use your body language to project confidence, warmth and approachability.  Stand up straight with an open stance, relax your arms at your side, hands visible, smile and make eye contact.  These simple actions project a positive, open and welcoming attitude and will make the guest feel welcome.

4. Speak First:  Initiate contact and welcome the guest. This sends the message that you are friendly and here to help.   Use the 10-5 rule; if a guest is 10 feet away, acknowledge with eye contact & body language - If 5 feet away, greet and initiate the conversation.  This removes the burden from the guest to find help.

5, Build Rapport: An important factor in solidifying the first impression relates to how we make people feel.  By showing an interest in them as a person, asking questions and recognizing their interests, you can build rapport.  Your personalized approach will make the guest feel both welcome and valued. At the same time, some guests may be more private or reserved, so be respectful and refrain from pushing to engage in conversation.

If you are looking to up your service game, consider training, coaching and teambuilding programs with Goldin Leadership Group!