Redefining Hospitality to Include Belonging
This is the 5th and final post in a series on how authentic communities can contribute to our sense of belonging. My last post was on how communities can unlock belonging.
The traditional definition of hospitality, both in hotels and events, is “the friendly and generous reception" of guests but what if we expanded it to include ensuring guests felt a sense of belonging when they were under our care? Isn’t that the ultimate form of hospitality?
I want to see hospitality go beyond luscious bedding, room service, and guests being referred to as “sir/madame.” I want to see it include the feeling of safety, emotional comfort, and familiarity.
Hospitality brands that craft an experience that gives guests a sense of belonging can give them a competitive advantage.
Imagine if hotels didn't only care about the guest experience but also how the guest felt? What if entering a hotel lobby or trade show truly felt like returning to a familiar and loving place?
Here are a few ideas toward that end:
Proactive staff. Instead of walking to the first available front desk rep, you are proactively greeted by a staff member that was picked for you because you have some commonalities (e.g. same home state).
A customized room. Your room’s bedding is in your favorite color. It has digital frames with photos, art, or even NFTs that you recognize. There are books on the nightstand that might interest you. There is music playing from your public Spotify playlists. And the minifridge has F&B you might enjoy.
Customized itineraries. The concierge prepares a custom itinerary that includes shows, restaurants, and attractions based on your interests (which can be gleaned from public social profiles).
Expectations are managed. Unwanted surprises are the opposite of hospitality. That’s why there’s no place for extra fees for things such as cots, wifi, coffee pods, bottled water, etc.
While we know there are multiple paths to belonging, and in my opinion, some are "better" than others, these are some ideas on how hospitality experiences can level up when it comes to making guests feel like they belong.
What else should hotels be doing to cultivate guests’ sense of belonging?