How Can We Enhance the Welcome Experience with Heart-based Hospitality? (2/2)
I recently had an exclusive interview with Peter McAlpine, an expert in Hospitality, who has launched an innovative concept of Heart-based Hospitality to enhance the guest experience throughout the hotel industry. In the previous article, we described his approach and the nature of Heart-based Hospitality. Now, we can go further to know how it works practically and what has to be done to help the Hospitality Industry to get back to the true essence of hospitality, which all guests are expecting in every property and destination.
#1 Peter, how do you implement Heart-based Hospitality in hotels and resorts?
My job is first to open the hearts of the staff and to teach them ways to increase the energetic vibration of the guest experience. The guest experience thereby becomes softer and stronger in genuine loving kindness, compassion, and heart-warming care. The process involves restoring the inner connection in every member of staff to love and increasing the measurable energy of love throughout the hotel. This enables the hotel to transform its spirit of hospitality. My job starts with the staff and how to make them reconnect with their true loving nature.
1- As I have a short time in the workshops, what I typically do first is to touch their hearts and emotions with certain kinds of music, stories and videos, which I’ve collected over the years. These touch and open their hearts and often make them cry with happiness: “Enough with the crying”, men sometimes say as they are not used to such a softening effect.
2- When you open their hearts, such as with certain kinds of meditation, their desire to show loving kindness and compassion increases. So I give them all the material to practice short meditations, such as love energy meditations; different heart energy techniques; creative visualization techniques; etc. When you do those exercises over time, you create coherent energy in yourself, and as this change happens, you become happier, you smile authentically, and your desire to make others happy grows.
3- In addition, I provide the 11 Elements follow-up system, which enables the hotel to take Heart-based Hospitality to ever-higher levels. This includes a huge, long-term deepening program, which develops the desire to practice the core spiritual values of hospitality, namely loving kindness, compassion, and heart-warming care. There is enough material for over 5 years. It works on the staff’s self-beliefs, thoughts, feelings, and emotions and enables them to create a guest experience, which becomes ever-stronger in the energy of these core values. The staff change as a result, and they think and behave differently. The guest experience is transformed.
In this way the staff change, and wonderful things happen to the guest experience. There are health benefits for the staff too. Their hearts create coherent waves, not stressful waves, and the staff send pleasant coherent energy during the welcome without even knowing it. This energy changes the feeling of the welcome. It is simple to create a different energy to the welcome, if you are willing to break away from the old-style norm of SOP-Customer Satisfaction. And no, this is not New Age, hippie fantasy. It is ancient knowledge, which has been explained through scientific research and quantum science. Changes in the energy of a member of staff and of the hotel can even be photographed and measured.
#2 So you can change anyone to become a warmer welcomer?
In principle, yes you can. Of course you cannot force someone to be a “welcomer”. But having said that, you can open their heart and reconnect them to their real nature, with is true love, kindness, and compassion, and as you reconnect them, the desire to show love, kindness, compassion, and care grows naturally. But, if someone doesn’t want to change, doesn’t practice the meditations, and resists the deepening process, you can do nothing about it. You cannot force someone to open their heart, even with a baseball bat (laughs). When you remove the figurative dust from the surface of people’s hearts, like removing the dust on a mirror, we are all loving people and we want to show these emotions. When being programmed and robotized, it is difficult to show them though.
#3 What are the effects? Do you have examples?
The practices mentioned above will have a wonderful effect on the staff’s heart energy and their body’s vibration. The staff come alive. They affect the energy of the welcome; the happiness of the guests; the guest experience; and the energy in the physical environment of the hotel. A member of staff could welcome a guest 100% in line with the SOP and be very efficient, but if the heart is not fully open, the welcome will have a low vibration and they will not be able to provide an authentic welcome, which exudes loving kindness, compassion, and heart-warming care and creates warm feelings.
There are examples of hotels, which have implemented Heart-based Hospitality in Asia, such as in Phuket, Vietnam and in the Maldives, and soon also in Zanzibar. All the resorts improved dramatically their ranking and scores on TripAdvisor. Generally, they now receive over 90% “5 stars” in the reviews. Of course, this has increased their room occupancy. One resort in Phuket became so successful that the rooms started to wear out and look old after about 18 months. The rooms were not built for an average of 90% occupancy all year round. Several hotels have won prestigious international awards, including World Travel Awards.
#5 What are the major obstacles to Heart-based Hospitality?
The major obstacle is the left brain used in SOP-Customer Satisfaction concept. If a new GM takes over a Heart-based Hospitality hotel and he is old-style, he will return the hotel to traditional SOP-Customer Satisfaction. I’ve seen a few hotels change back dramatically in this way, such a shame! You can see the effect of the change in the comments on TripAdvisor… However, when the new GM is a woman, Heart-based Hospitality continues, even if not in its full form. (thank you Peter!)
Corporate offices of the big hotel groups want a guest experience, which can be cloned to more and more hotels so as to boost shareholder value and satisfy their goals. SOP-Customer Satisfaction is mechanical and robotic: once you practice them efficiently, you’ve finished the job… so sad! Heart-based Hospitality creates a much deeper kind of guest experience, one which goes beyond the artificial ceiling of 5-Stars. Here, what is essential is the warmth of the guest experience which is always different because there is no ceiling to loving kindness, compassion, and heart-warming care. So, in some resorts the energy is truly amazing because the leaders and staff implement the concept more fully. It’s a journey whose destination you never reach because the guest experience is about love, not cold, hard, corporate SOPs.
#6 So what is your vision of the guest experience today?
Unfortunately, standardization and globalization are numbing people in our societies, and preventing them from being who they truly are. SOP-Customer Satisfaction creates a mechanical guest experience in which staff memorize robotically what to say and do. In such a working environment they cannot work in line with their true nature. The hotel guest experience has become all about emotionless procedures, traditional SOPs manuals, making money, and just doing one’s specified job. It is no wonder that there is often large staff turnover because working like that is boring. It is out of sync with who we really are.
We have to create a new kind of guest experience, one which is in line with the true essence of hospitality and who we really are. For that, we need to create an experience filled with the energy of love and compassion. I wonder, if married corporate people live their marriage life in the same way that they want their staff to treat the guests. If the answer is “yes”, then of course, they are not going to be married for long or be happy. Human beings are not corporate beings, but human beings who want love, kindness, compassion, and heart-warming care.
#7 What about the new practices (technology, design, services) that would enhance the welcome?
Think about this, please. Why does nothing change after each “Next Big Thing” is introduced by a corporate office? Why has the guest experience not changed except in material or technological ways? Everyone is copying what the competitor is doing and there is nothing really different and out of the ordinary. In other words, the corporate offices cannot find the essence, which will transform their hospitality. They keep looking in the wrong direction.
Technological practices can enhance the experience. But does they really enhance the welcome? There are kiosks in Bangkok’s main airport and check-in kiosks in many chain hotels, but people don’t use them as much as hoped because they want to experience human emotion. There is no emotion in a check-in at a machine or on a mobile phone. It is so ironic that corporate people are looking everywhere for the Next Big Thing, but the Holy Grail for hotel groups is closer to them than their laptop screens. It lies in their heart and thought energy and their spiritual nature.
One of the latest fads is to create special hotel environments and experiences for “Millenials” who seem to be a new sub-species of human being. But they are just human beings like you and I, and they have the same human needs and wishes than everybody has. Yes, if we give them the opportunity to be connected to their mobile phones and the latest technology, this will help. If you give them all the technology to bypass staff, bypass room service, with no interactions, then, yes, they will accept it. But with all this technology will they be happy? We can all live our lives in a hi-tech environment with robots and everything… but will we be happy? Human beings cannot live happily without loving kindness, compassion, and heart- warming care. Lobby designs, smells, and an abundance of technology will not create higher emotional levels of guest experience. We know that all this doesn’t bring happiness. They just create convenience and efficiency. Eventually, things will go full circle and the hospitality industry will have to go back to love, which is the fundamental core value of hospitality.
#8 So you are optimistic about the future?
I’m optimistic, yes! Because the hotel industry has no other direction to go in. The time will come when we will feel that in spite of having all the technology that can be stuffed into the hotel experience, something intangible is still missing. Eventually, somebody will make a connection to the human heart and say: “Let’s bring the heart back into hospitality! Technology is fine, but we have ignored the heart.” Maybe it will happen tomorrow, maybe in a decade, when someone in a corporate office somewhere will read an article about hospitality based on the heart and say, “We’ve tried everything else, and still the guest experience is ordinary. Let’s give this a try now”.
Today, there are several GMs who believe deeply in these heart-based practices and have seen the effects. But the time will come when pretty well the whole hotel industry will turn to energetic Heart-based Hospitality with its energetic and heart-based practices. They will come up with their own copyrighted names for it.
For a big chain it is a massive thing to change everything. But they will be forced to change by pressure and change coming from the small hotel groups, like the ones which have 4 or 5 hotels. All it takes to change the whole global industry is to have one medium-sized hotel group to go full-steam ahead with Heart-based Hospitality and then everyone will copy it. Those which resist change will be bought up and sold.
#9 What final advice can you give to hotel leaders?
Study energy. Learn how to send energy, change energy, and condition energy. There are unlimited levels above 5 Stars, which you can reach, if you change away from the traditional ideas and paradigms. If you create an energetic Heart-based Hospitality guest experience, people from all around the world will want to stay at your hotel because it meets their unspoken inner needs.
Change the paradigm and change the energy of your staff and hotel, and you will see miracles happen. There is a ceiling to SOPs, but there is no ceiling to a guest experience based in loving kindness, compassion, and heart-warming care. How much does it cost to make the change? Actually, the costs are minimal, and far less than trying to maintain SOP – Customer Satisfaction.
The overview of my research about the new practices that would enhance the guest’s welcome experience, has now come to an end. And yet, it’s like being in front of an open door with all sorts of possibilities. The concept and practices explained by Peter seems to be what all hoteliers are looking for. They change the spirit of the guest experience by making the human heart and the core values of hospitality the focus. They enable every guest to enjoy a truly memorable, unique, and highly emotional guest experience, full of loving kindness, compassion, and heart-warming care. But they are revolutionary, they need a deep metanoia and « turning around » to get back to the true essence of Hospitality, restoring their confidence to the great loving potential of human beings.
About the interviewee: Peter Mc Alpine is the Senior Consultant at Renaissance Consulting Ltd. in Bangkok. The company specializes in pre-opening 5-star hotels and resorts; in creating an energetically strong guest experience, which he calls Heart-based Hospitality; and in upgrading hotels from the pervasive level of SOP-Customer Satisfaction. The company’s strength lies in creating a guest experience that has a very warm energy and feeling, and which is strong in loving kindness, compassion, and heart-warming care. In addition to his LinkedIn profile, you can contact Peter at email@example.com