The art of welcoming
In a global study on the welcoming practices, I analyzed all the societal, psychological and semantic dimensions of this art. I discovered that wlecoming is the basis of all human interaction, including that of ourselves with the world
“L’accueil, c’est l’origine de la vie !”
Welcoming should have an essential place in our lives, because its role is vital. Indeed, as most of our material needs are now satisfied, the need for a better quality of life has shifted the focus from the objective (the material) to the subjective (the human relationship).
Then the digital world that has made our daily lives a whirlwind of urgency and performance. We are then deprived of true communication, and feel the need for meaning. And for an authentic experience, to go further in our inner journey and find out our true identity.
Here are some basics of welcoming, as the result of my research. They put us in a posture of humility, receptivity, intention and joy, with the fruit of a dynamic exchange where we offer the gifts received and the best of ourselves to the service of life, becoming fully actors of the world’s miracle.
Accueillir est un apprentissage
The concept of hospitality is very old, even before hospitality, although the two words are still used as synonyms. While welcoming rituals seem obvious to us in private life, there are many welcoming practices and learning in the professional sphere.
All human relationships are based on welcoming. This is why the welcome can only be human. Welcoming oneself, one’s feelings, one’s thoughts; the reception of sensations, stimuli; welcoming others, their words, their emotions; welcoming the environment and the world. This opens the field to very vast fields such as human interactions, behavioral psychology, multicultural diversity …
Hospitality is alchemy, it’s like good wine. It is both the means and the result; the grape variety, the terroir, a know-how and a know-how-to-be ; and going beyond the very conditions of welcoming to make you travel into the experience.
Welcoming is "moving to"
We always imagine the one who welcomes motionless on his doorstep, behind a desk or a reception counter, and the one who is going to be greeted going towards the one who welcomes him. But in the welcoming, there is always a voluntary act from the host towards the person who is welcomed. And this is where it differs from a service or someone’s reception. We get an authentic encounter when we remove our protections, to be on neutral ground, where everyone will be vulnerable.
It is therefore necessary to work on oneself to acquire the capacity to welcome, because it is not natural to mobilize the two dynamics: giving and receiving. If we progress, we obtain mutual enrichment in each encounter. This is why welcoming can never become a habit or be normalized and standardized. Because in the end, welcoming is not a function, but a mission that is based on tangible and intangible aspects while remaining inherently unpredictable.
He who receives, who welcomes must show that the presence of the host is always a joy, that he cannot do without it.
Le mythe du voyageur
“The one who is going to be welcomed is a fragile being, anguished by the unknown represented elsewhere and who is on his guard. He feels like a foreigner, even if he is known to the host. He needs to be comforted, reassured and taken care of .”
On the other hand, the one who travels carries within him what Gouirand calls the Ulysses complex.
“The one who travels is the one who is free, who has the means to go where others do not go, it is almost a god.”
It is therefore about welcoming customers with opposite expectations.
On the one hand, they want to be reassured, protected, taken care of. And on the other hand, they want to receive the honors they deem due to their privileged position as a traveler. The welcoming relationship thus necessarily implies an effort, the desire to please, to be of service, to serve.
To offer hospitality is to give something to someone, to present and to offer something of yourself.
From welcoming to hospitality
Thus, the psychological needs of welcoming makes it possible to move from a “courteous relationship” to an authentic relationship, one that touches the heart, one that will me memorable. This human dimension underpins the gift found in welcoming, with the creation of an experience that allows the guest to “feel at home”.
And we quickly slip from hospitality to luxury hotels where, from the beginning, enthusiasts have invested in magnificent places and people, to offer their guests exceptional moments. It is therefore in this sector that hospitality would like to be the best. The hotel industry also has an unfailing link with conviviality, gastronomy and all luxury products, whether they are services or material goods.
The tourist is therefore normally in contact only with the good sides of life, since the hotel, the site, the destination play the role of a permeable partition, a kind of family cocoon, soft and reassuring. This is where the importance of creating an authentic experience becomes crucial, in the simplicity of the present moment.
Welcoming is a process of three logical sequences:
Customer recognition through concrete actions
Hospitality, that is to say meeting your expectations, exceeding them and solving your problems
Mothering, finally, to take charge of it to varying degrees
Technologies... for more humanity !
New technologies (Big data, Artificial intelligence, Bots, Robotization) are revolutionizing reception and certainly bringing significant benefits: better knowing customers and anticipating their needs, dematerializing the concierge service to allow refocusing on the customer experience , give more time to human exchanges with the check-in tools, offer new personalized services.
But the customers’ need to live memorable experiences has become so significant that it is essential to work on the essence of these new practices to improve the quality of the reception. It questions subjects as diverse as the fluidification of the customer. customer journey, check-in, interaction with the customer, the concierge job, the layout of the reception area, customer loyalty or even new services with home automation, sensory marketing or hyper-personalized advice …
Thus, technology is a real opportunity, if the primary objective is customer satisfaction and not cost reduction. Unanimously, experts speak of a “saving” turnaround for the advent of authentic luxury. It is about returning to the very foundations of welcoming by going beyond current standards, with new skills and management methods. In the end, any destination, hotel or business open to the public must imperatively remain human, communicative and friendly. But for that to happen, you need staff who are happy to welcome, who have made the time to fully invest in their mission and offer sincere attention and tailor-made service for each client. You also need managers who are ready to support them, embodying the values of the establishment both with customers and with the employees themselves. This is the heart of the welcoming and hospitality mission.
Eating a meal and trusting the hotelier to eat, therefore welcoming external nourishment into one’s body, is the most intimate social and personal act that can be given and it takes place in hotels.
L'accueil au sein des destinations
In the end, hospitality leads to openness to the local environment with tourism destinations. The hotel, the station, the thermal baths become not only the chosen place, but the gateway to discover the local treasures: historical, human, natural, cultural heritage and the craftsmen around … customers wanting to live an authentic and personalized relationship that gives sense to their stay and far beyond. All of these hospitality sites need to take this into account in their overall approach to the guest: making hosts comfortable with each other, bonding and being a gateway to whatever creates true luxury.