Communication means transferring information. This process must involve at least two people.

Hospitality is purely a service industry. Communication is needed in the industry both verbally and written or in any other medium in providing these services. Furthermore, communication is said to be incomplete without feedback.

The services rendered in hospitality are paid for. To this extent, the tone of voice or writing must always be respectful and pleasant.

Communication in hospitality should be such that the hospitality person is able to engage the customer in a professional and courteous conversation without derailing to sound obnoxious. The hospitality person should be able to keep a cool head and manage what the customer is communicating.  

Communication maybe split into two major types in hospitality:

a.       Guest/Customer communication

Refers to the daily communication between staff members in the service area with guests or customers. This includes the front office manager, receptionists, concierge, restaurant manager, waiters, room service attendants and housekeepers.

The communication here is strictly official and professional. The staff member is expected to speak or write with utmost courtesy. No familiarities or casual approach.

b.      Co-staff communication

This refers to the everyday communication between staff members in the hospitality organization. The formality is a little bit relaxed with co-workers but not casual at the same time. The communication may be between the General Manager and his staff or between heads of departments and their staffs.

Attributes of a professional communicator in hospitality

i.    Good listener. Listen well before you speak or respond. Interrupting a customer to defend a point is pointless and unprofessional. Listen to an order or instruction properly. Where you are not clear, politely ask again or better still, repeat everything the guest ordered to reconfirm everyone is on the same page.

ii.    Sound polite. Speaking on the phone or face to face, speak pleasantly with an infectious positive attitude. Be a solution provider and not an excuse provider.

iii.    Speak discreetly. Speak on the phone discreetly but clearly. Everyone does not need to hear your conversation on the phone. Guest information should be kept secured and not a topic to be discussed in the locker room or canteen.

iv.    Never hang up a call on a caller on the office line in the assumption that the conversation is over. It is professional to let the caller hang up after a conversation before you. In a situation where you are uncertain if the conversation is still on, politely ask if there is anything else you can help the caller with.

v.    In a conversation with a guest, refer to the guest by his/her title and last name at least once or twice in the conversation to show personalized service.

vi.    In responding to emails, sound as polite as professionally possible. Spell out words. No abbreviations.

vii.    Body language is another form of communication that makes or breaks a verbal communication. When speaking to a customer in front of you, leaning on the wall or desk or making a face are signs of disrespect. Your body positioning should be upright and chin up while making eye contact with the customer. This shows concentration and attentiveness to the guest/customer.

viii.    Write down information at every chance during a conversation with a guest or customer. The tendency to forget information is likely, especially during a busy schedule. It is always advisable to write while also listening attentively.

ix.     Keep a calm attitude of attentiveness. Never speak rudely to a customer no matter how under pressure the situation may seem.

x.      Avoid pointing a guest or customer in a direction. Rather walk them or get someone to show them to the place. Also, avoid walking in front of a guest. If need be, excuse yourself before getting in their front.

Let these few communication skills guide you through your daily interactions with guests and customers.

If you are setting up a hotel or restaurant and would like to know more, ugo@curzonandjones.com (operations manager) can assist.

Curzon and Jones is a 360 Nigerian hospitality management company. For more information, kindly visit www.curzonandjones.com or info@curzonandjones.com

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