What is communication in the hospitality industry?
Communication in the hospitality industry is the cornerstone of delivering exceptional guest experiences and smooth operational functionality. It encompasses a wide range of interactions, from front-of-house dialogue with guests to back-of-house coordination among staff. It’s about exchanging information, but also building relationships, understanding guest needs, and ensuring an effective workflow within the hotel team.
As it might seem that with the hospitality industry moving towards providing a digital guest experience, inside communication in hotels is no longer an essential point of attention. The truth is with all of the recent changes towards digitalisation and focusing on guest experience, communication in the hospitality industry is more crucial than ever, and now even on a larger scale. Your job now is to provide effective communication inside your company on multiple channels to create the best experience for your guests.
Hospitality communication and guest experience
If someone asked what the number one priority was at your hotel, it’s very likely your answer would be something along the lines of ‘…providing great guest service’.
The guests who stay at your hotel are not just a uniform line of paying customers. They have the potential to be brand ambassadors (or detractors) and can decide the long-term fate of your business.
Therefore, it’s imperative every guest goes home happy and looks forward to returning.
Obviously, there’s a lot that goes into perfecting guest experience. One major factor is the way you communicate and interact with guests.
This article will briefly discuss why effective hospitality communication is important, ways to do it right, and how improved communication can help boost customer satisfaction. Table of contents
Table of contents
Why is communication important in the hospitality industry?
Effective communication in the hotel business is a two-way process of exchanging opinions, knowledge, ideas, findings and data between the management and employees in a way that the message is received and understood clearly.
The importance of two-way communication in hospitality industry is crucial to:
- Keep employees engaged and increase morale to keep the employees connected to the company
- Solve problems better and faster
- Encourage the free flow of information in both directions
- Facilitate constant growth of both management and employees.
The goal of effective communication in your hotel is to provide working communication channels and to convey clear information amongst your team to create a better customer experience.
An important factor in delivering information effectively is to use the types of communication and the medium in the right way. This increases the odds of the receiver getting the message, understanding it correctly and remembering it.
Types of communication in the hospitality industry
Understanding the various types of communication used in the hotel sector is key to fostering a productive work environment and enhancing guest experiences. From verbal and non-verbal cues to formal and informal exchanges, each form of communication plays a vital role in the day-to-day functioning of a hospitality business.
The types of communication you must master in your hotel are::
Verbal and non-verbal communication
Verbal communication is the use of words to share information and is also the most used type of communication in hotels. This is the easiest way to share ideas and when done right you can avoid misunderstandings easily.
Non-verbal covers pretty much everything else: body language, tone of voice, eye contact, intonation and facial expressions. It is an important addition to verbal communication if congruent to get your point through. When used correctly, good non-verbal communication leads to better communication with less confusion, and better rapport.
Formal and informal communication
The purpose of formal communication is to get the information across in a professional business manner. Use formal communication when communicating with people outside your company, sending the first email to someone and communicating certain types of official information with your staff.
Informal communication is a casual conversation between coworkers or depending on your company, also between you and your staff. It is important to get to know your employees and always communicating formally is not the way to get there.
Often, an informal conversation is the best way to get two-way communication going and build trust and company culture. But do keep in mind that you are still at work and it is crucial to keep a balance between formal and informal communication.
Horizontal and vertical communication
Horizontal communication is the communication between individuals, teams, groups, or departments in an organisation at the same hierarchical level. You can benefit from it by having a more open discussion and better collaboration which leads to less duplication of work where responsibilities may overlay and better innovation. Conflicts and issues are solved more quickly. The only downside of this form is that it slows things down as everything needs to get checked and confirmed by management.
Vertical communication happens between people, teams, or departments of a company at different hierarchical levels. For example, between you and your staff members. It works both ways, it is the exchange of information between all members of the company. Vertical communication is essentially two-way communication.
Written and visual communication
Written communication is anything that involves writing it on paper or typing it into a message. It includes emails, Slack, texts, PowerPoint presentations or notes for references, info sheets on the wall and so on.
It is a great way to do follow-up, explain a process step-by-step, provide status updates or just have some long-term information (for example goals for each month) provided in the staff room for the team to go over when needed.
Visual communication handles more than just words, it is images, graphs, videos and other visual displays to get the message across. Visual communication is a great way to get the audience’s attention and deliver the message across using a mixture of communication styles.
Use visual aids in your presentations, when trying to explain difficult topics or sharing a large amount of data. Showing visual data and graphs is also a strong tool to be clear and factual in your message.
Hospitality communication frequently asked questions
Navigating effective communication in the hospitality industry has some consistent and recurring questions. Here are concise answers to some of the most frequently asked ones, providing insights into common challenges and best practices.
- What are common communication barriers in the hospitality industry? Language differences and cultural misunderstandings are often the most common communication barriers in the hospitality industry, potentially leading to misinterpretations, service discrepancies, and at worst, accidentally insulting behaviour.
- What is the most valuable form of communication in the hospitality and tourism industry? Every guest and team member will have a preference in how they communicate, as well as a different level of skill in the various forms of communication. Often, effective verbal communication, coupled with active listening, is considered one of the most valuable forms of communication in hospitality and tourism, but it’s crucial to understand and master a broad spectrum to be successful.
- How can communication help in bringing diversity at work in the tourism and hospitality industry? Open and inclusive communication encourages a culture of diversity and inclusion, allowing for varied perspectives and ideas to enhance creativity and understanding in the workplace. When your team can communicate effectively, they can better collaborate and better deliver guest experiences.
How to improve communication skills in the hospitality industry
From setting up varied communication channels to understanding staff nuances and ensuring timely information delivery, these tips for effective employee communications in hospitality are designed to foster a more connected and responsive work environment.
1. Set up channels for communication
Sending information via different channels is an important way to deliver the information right and get the staff more engaged. Set up digital and mobile channels to reach all employees, also the non-desk ones.
Deliver big news or changes first verbally to create trust and openness. Send in the documentation or other formal stuff via email, so it doesn’t get lost in the chat.
There’s information that’s not urgent but needs to be seen and understood by all the staff members – put it on a board in the staff room. Choosing the right medium for each piece of information you need to deliver is a crucial point of effective communication.
2. Understand and know your staff members
Getting to know your staff members and how they operate is a must to deliver information. People are different and that’s why you have to individualise, not only your guests but also your staff members.
Understanding your staff, knowing their professional goals, how they interact and how they engage is the best way to improve employee communications in hospitality. In addition to being fundamental to leadership, knowing your employees is also a way to more effective internal communication.
3. Make sure your communications are well-timed
Deliver the information, both urgent and non-urgent on time. Non-urgent information is not something that has to be found out last minute, it is information that doesn’t need immediate action but still needs attention and time to prepare.
Not being able to deliver timely communication will lead to staff having low morale and being incapable of providing a good guest experience.
4. Get feedback and follow up
Encouraging your employees to share their feedback creates stronger two-way communication and establishes company culture. By asking for feedback you are letting your team know that they are involved and heard which as a result helps with building trust and higher work morale.
Letting your employees communicate with you also gives insight into any issues that the management might not be aware of. Hold weekly informal meetings to follow up with last week’s events, goals, and problems and find out your employee’s views and feedback on them.
5. Emphasise the importance of communication in the hospitality industry with your staff
Make sure your team knows that communication is the number one priority at work. Encourage them to take time weekly or even daily to inform themselves about any news or updates within the company. Strong internal and external communication is the key tool to success and needs to be at the core of each staff member to be effective.
There are several types of communication and different ways to improve each one of them. Work out a plan and challenge yourself and your staff to start setting up communication.
Prioritising communication in your hotel will benefit you in multiple ways. It increases the performance and morale of your employees. It allows you to have better results at every level of the organisation and make better use of resources. It favours making quicker and clearer decisions and therefore gives you more time to focus on your job.
5 effective communication tips to improve guest satisfaction
Below are five practical tips on effective communication in the hospitality industry, designed to elevate guest interactions and foster a welcoming and responsive environment. These strategies not only aim to meet but exceed guest expectations, ensuring a memorable and positive stay.
1. Keep communication with your guests regular
Prior to their stay guests are going to be highly anticipating their trip. Maintaining regular contact will keep them excited and assure them you’re thinking about them and showing how important it is to offer a positive experience. Send email reminders, suggestions, and remember to ask guests if they have any last minute requests. Often there’s always something people haven’t thought to ask. A good online booking engine for your hotel’s website can facilitate your pre- and post-stay communication with your guests.
The same principles apply after a guest has departed. People want to relive good memories and tell their friends and family. Send emails to thank guests for their stay and if you know they used certain amenities or saw particular attractions list them off to make recalling positive experiences easier for them.
This kind of personal touch extends beyond emails of course. If you speak to guests on the phone or in person, the way you communicate should be the same.
Maintaining regular contact will keep guests excited and assure them that you’re thinking about how important it is to give them a positive experience.
2. Maintain a consistent level of guest service
Friendly and personal interactions shouldn’t just be reserved for the conversation between guests and front desk staff. Every staff member in your hotel must work to the same standards and be willing to field enquiries or engage in small talk at all times, whether it’s a waiter or a cleaner. This will create the impression that you always have time for your guests; they come before any other task.
Your staff need to see everything from the guests perspective. If your staff perform as they’d like if they were the one’s staying at the hotel, there should be no reason for guests to complain.
3. Body language towards your guests is equally important
It isn’t enough to simply engage in pleasantries. After all, it’s as much about how you say things as what you say.
Your staff need to be energetic and cheerful around guests, be easy to smile and laugh. Eye contact is imperative when speaking to someone. It lets them know you’re genuinely listening to their concerns or requests.
It also helps if your staff seem to be enjoying their job and are engaged with their tasks. Guests may feel less inclined to make requests if staff look grumpy or disinterested. This can be helped by the way they dress and are presented too.
4. Keep lines of communication with your guests open
It’s very important guests can make requests, give feedback, or ask questions at all times. Only then will they feel they’re being properly attended to.
If your staff can’t be on hand 24 hours a day, make sure you’re using a messenger app or a chatbot via social media to field any queries they may have. Think about how you navigate new experiences, it’s natural to have questions and often they’re about things you hadn’t considered before. Your guests are exactly the same.
Always be accepting of feedback, even if it’s negative. It might draw your attention to an ongoing issue which needs fixing or simply let you know where improvements need to be made. Most of the time, a negative can become a positive in the long run.
5. Be accessible to all guests
Obviously many guests at your hotel will be from other countries and continents. Many of them will not speak the same native tongue as you and may find it difficult to communicate effectively.
To make things easier for them, it’s important your website and booking engine are multilingual and equipped to handle currency conversions. This will mean international guests won’t have to ask as many questions and can enjoy a smoother booking experience, while you will also have less work on your plate.