The pillars of welcoming in hospitality

In ancient Greece, hospitality, called xenía [1], was based on three basic principles: the respect of the host towards the guest, the respect of the guest towards the host, and the giving of a farewell gift to the guest by the host.

 

Hospitality was important because it was believed that the gods hid in the shoes of guests, so in order not to risk incurring the wrath of the god Zeus, they were treated as well as possible.

 

Hospitality was demonstrated by a warm welcome and complete dedication to the guest. For example, at the first eye contact, the host was expected to give a cup of wine and good food. Moreover, if the guest had travelled a long way, it was good practice to offer him dinner, a warm bath and the most beautiful room.

 

Today, how do we show welcome to our guests?

 

Let’s think about the etymology of the word welcome [2], which derives from the Latin accollĭgĕre, formed by ad- and collĭgĕre, that is “to seize, collect”. Indeed, welcoming a person means knowing how to observe the nuances of the person in front of you, understanding the other person through communication and information gathering.

 

When a guest enters our accommodation, one of the first things we ask is “how was your trip?”, or, “did you find the facility easy?”. These first questions allow us to get in touch with him and understand his emotional state right away. We then ask a few exploratory questions about where he is from, the motivation for the trip, his plans for this holiday and we make ourselves available to support and/or assist him during his stay.

 

Our way of welcoming has the main objective of lowering all kinds of barriers to get closer to our guests and make them understand that we are there to make their experience unique.

 

 

Don Andrea Gallo affirmed [3]:

“I see that, when I extend my arms, the walls fall. Welcoming means building bridges and not walls”.

 

Even today, hospitality means dedicating ourselves completely to our guests, understanding their needs and wishes from the outset. Even today, if a guest arrives after a long journey, our aim is to make him or her relax, for example by offering a massage at the SPA, special salts to use for a hot bath or room service according to their preferences.

 

This brings us to an important awareness: one aspect that will last over time is the value of people. This brings us to an important awareness: one aspect that will endure over time is the value of people. In fact, it is us, with our attention, our experience, our knowledge, that can make the difference during the guest’s stay; it is us, with our empathy, our active listening and our passion for the world of hospitality that can add value to their experience.

 

 

So what has changed compared to the past?

 

Over the years, the way in which we welcome guests has changed, influenced by the introduction of new tools and technologies, OTAs (Online Travel Agencies), online review sites and social media. On the one hand, these tools have optimised services, making certain internal procedures easier, for example, but on the other they have increased the distance between us and our guests.

 

Our task today is to take advantage of the support of new technologies to streamline certain processes, with the aim of dedicating more time to people.

 

To achieve this objective, it is important to focus on three fundamental pillars:

 

  • communication: establishing a good communication relationship with the guest helps us to prevent possible misunderstandings or complaints and to know his level of satisfaction
  • empathy: by listening to and understanding his every request and need, we can offer him personalised solutions and a high level of service
  • fidelity: once we have succeeded in adding value to their experience, we will have created a climate of trust that can lead to loyalty and, at the same time, strengthen the image of the structure

 

Although in different guises, this is an opportunity to return to the origins, to the concept of xenìa mentioned at the beginning. By leveraging communication, empathy and loyalty with method, awareness and consistency, we can take care of the people who choose our structure.

 

 

Francesca Capece

Content editor

Hospite – The Italian Hospitality Academy

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

[1] https://it.wikipedia.org/wiki/Xenia_(antica_Grecia)

[2] https://it.wiktionary.org/wiki/accoglienza

[3] https://www.paginainizio.com/frasi/don-gallo.html