Maybe it is because I started my career in the hospitality business. I was taught that one of the most important times of client interaction is when they first arrive at your door step.
And the best hotel in the world? It is the one where they know your name.
This “sense of arrival” is critical in building a relationship with guests and can determine whether they will ever return again. (This is also why we often refer to our client’s websites as their new front door, but more on that later).
Screw it up – and you and your team have to make up for it during their whole stay with you. Get it right and you have the beginning of a beautiful relationship.
Let me give an example. Recently on a trip to South America from Victoria, I arrived at the Pearson International Airport’s Maple Leaf Lounge. The woman checking me in barely looked up from her screen to acknowledge me, handed me back my ticket and said, “international.” She looked away without even smiling or saying my name – not a great sense of arrival, is it? And, it is bad PR.
Further confusing the matter, the woman checking our tickets as I entered the international terminal said I couldn’t leave once I was inside the terminal. I had a 10-hour lay over and a meeting with The Globe &Mail downtown later in the day, so the concept of not being able to leave was definitely not going to work for me.
I returned to the domestic Maple Leaf Lounge, not very happy. And neither was the greeter! She let me in, mumbling under her breath the whole time how guests leave the international lounge all the time. Being the tourism advocate that I am, I was aching to hike over to the international Maple Leaf Lounge just to see if the sense of arrival was any different! Thanks to the non-welcoming sense of arrival from Ms. Domestic Terminal they would have to prove themselves to me now.
Does greeting guests matter? Of course it does. Whether it is in person, on-line or in writing, make your sense of arrival count. When clients ask me, “when does the PR start?” I tell them it starts the very first time you meet your client, wherever that is.
Deirdre Campbell is President of the Tartan Group, a leading public relations and communications firm in the tourism and travel industry. Deirdre is a fearless advocate of using travel for economic development and to promote peace. She loves to travel and always takes notice of the PR relationship her clients offer. The Tartan Group specializes in integrated marketing communications for eco-lodges and sustainable business.