In the process of launching this blog we asked our 400+ most active English speaking customers to put us in touch with the Hospitality Manager within their company. We were surprised by the answers.
Only 3% replied. Out of the 11 replies we got, only 4 put us in touch with their Hospitality Manager. The others e-mailed backed that they did not have one.
Most of those who replied did not understand the question:
Don't do as Daddy says
This made me realize that corporations are a long way from properly recognizing the importance of welcoming visitors. Didn't we all hear our parents tell us to "Say hello" to their friends before they sat down comfortably in our living room? So why are most companies not following this simple common courtesy protocol with both their visitors and employees?
I have been attending plenty of Facility Management, Corporate Real Estate and more recently Workplace related conferences in Europe and North America. The focus is always on the building, on the facility or on the workspace and never on the people. To be fair the importance of people is often mentioned but it's never about them: it's about beautiful tower buildings, extraordinary workplaces or how to best manage your facilities.
"We are on the threshold of the Experience economy"
I recently read this book by Pine and Gilmore claiming that we are entering "a new economic era in which all businesses must orchestrate memorable events for their customers."
Most if not all companies are not looking at the experience or at the journey of their visitors. All they see is one single moment summed up in one process: the moment when the visitor stands at the front desk and is asked to sign the logbook.
In order to participate in the Experience economy they need to look at everything that happens before and everything that occurs after the logbook is signed. Appointing a Hospitality Manager is a big step in that direction. This should not be their only responsibility of course; but there should be a person accountable for hospitality.
Technology alone will not make it happen
About 20% of our customers subscribe to our iPad-based Visitor Management service to replace the receptionist. There are cases where this might be justified:
Small companies don't have enough visits to justify a full-time front desk attendant
Corporations sometimes need to reduce their costs and this is one way of doing it
But technology alone is not enough for a memorable visitor experience, I once heard the story of a grumpy customer who brought his beloved dog to a difficult meeting. He was touched by the way his dog was treated at the front desk and it put him in a very good mood. The meeting went very well and he ended up signing the contract under discussion.
My view is that if you believe your visitors are important to your business, replacing people with technology is just wrong. Technology should empower people at the front desk to deliver a memorable service to visitors.
Appointing a Hospitality Manager helps companies to focus on what really matters.