Importance of communication
As an owner/manager of private accommodation you need to communicate with your guests, employees, travel/booking agents, suppliers and many others. Indeed, in the hospitality industry, communication skills are considered to be the most important quality of managers and employees.
Communication is the process of exchanging information, ideas, thoughts, feelings or emotions, through speech, signals, writing and behavior. Effective communication means to express yourself in a way that you are readily and clearly understood.
Communication is also about achieving certain goals. In general, goals of communication are:
• To change behavior
• To get something done (action)
• To ensure understanding
• To persuade
• To get and give information
There are basically two different communication situations you have to think about:
• Communication with guests: service with smile, positive attitude, patience, and conflict-resolution skills are important
• Communication with and between staff: it is important in order to ensure good work atmosphere, team spirit and high operational standards
Effective communication will bring you a number of benefits:
• You will offer better service to your guests
• You will be able to solve problems quicker
• You will work more efficiently
• Your employees will be more efficient as they will have clear instructions
• You will build better relationships with your suppliers
• You will have a better professional image
Elements of communication
Communication is always about exchange of information, thus we have the SENDERS, MESSAGES and RECIPIENTS.
The message is the information that is being communicated. It has to be:
• ENCODED – simply put, assembled by text, pictures, signs in a form of a letter, leaflet, an e-mail, in numbers, graphs or orally
• Delivered via CHANNELS – such as phone, post, electronically, via billboards
• DECODED by receivers, in a way intended by senders, assigning meaning to the message
As decoding is subject to many influences that may lead to misunderstandings, the FEEDBACK LOOP is a very important step for successful communication – to make sure that the message was received and decoded as intended. This confirmation needs dialogue between senders and receivers.
Communication can be:
Principles of communication
To communicate effectively, apply these seven basic principles:
- Completeness – make sure it contains all information (who you communicate with such as guests, supplier, chef; what do you want them to do or what do you want to achieve; where to execute action or idea; when to deliver the information; how to achieve the objective)
- Conciseness – it means that you express your message in the fewest possible words by eliminating unnecessary words or repetitions
- Consideration – you need to consider the recipient of your message and adapt the message to his/her needs. This is achieved by talking to ‘you’ instead of ‘me’ and keeping a positive tone by emphasizing the good side of the message
- Concreteness – you should be specific and action oriented, instead of vague and general
- Clarity – make sure your receiver is understanding your message the same way you do by using words normally used in conversation and keeping sentences simple
- Correctness – with proper grammar, punctuation, spelling, but also the right tone (formal, informal)
- Courtesy –be polite and show sincere appreciation for the receiver of your message
For inspiration see a sample letter welcoming your guest (in English)
Communication in emergencies
Apart from language and cultural barriers, your guests may face a number of emergencies. Foreign tourists are more at risk as they lack the local knowledge on how to avoid dangers or keep out of trouble. Your guests may become suddenly ill or injured, they might have a car accident, lose money or other valuable property, get robbed, get lost. They may experience emergencies such as forest fires or storms.
Beware that during emergencies, communication becomes especially critical. People are under stress and possibly in an environment making it difficult to hear or understand the message.
When communicating in emergency it is important to:
- show understanding and exert trust
- talk clearly
- give specific and adequate information
A key-issue in emergency cases is your availability. Do guests have a telephone number where they can reach you 24 hours a day, 7 days a week? Is there anybody else who could answer the phone for you in case of an emergency? Do your guests know the European emergency number (112) or the local emergency numbers (police, ambulance, fire brigade)? Remember, your availability will not only create a sense of security to guests but might even save a life!
Watch a series of videos* instructing tourists how to stay safe from fire. You are encouraged to play them on your screens to inform your guests on fire-safe behavior. Available in English, Italian, Croatian, Greek, German, French:
(*Source: EU MIRTO project)