Hotel training staff to read body langage

May 2, 2012 8:39:17 PM PDT
Hotel staff members are learning that reading their guests' body language can help their service.

"A lot of times, guests come in with more baggage than what they're carrying," said Chrissy Denihan O'Donovan who works at Affinia Hotels.

We've all experienced in one form or another, the stress that comes along with traveling. But at the Affinia Shelburne hotel, they're trying to change that. From the second you step in the door, the staff is literally watching your every move.

Chrissy Denihan O'Donovan is the company's first and only Chief Comfort Officer. She oversees a new program in place at the hotel chain. The entire staff, from the bell hop to the concierge received body language training. This is vital, since experts say 80 percent of all communication is non verbal. We spoke with Patti Wood via Skype, she headed up the classes.

"The more astute you are at identifying the personality and emotional state of your customer, the better you're able to serve them," explained Patti Wood, a body language expert.

We wanted to see them in action, starting with Oneca Hitchman.

She's not only listening but paying close attention to several very important cues.

"By leaning on the desk the two of them were leaning towards one another, kind of like we were having a conversation and we made a circle together, so just from the beginning I realize we were just chatting and weren't aggravated at all," Said Oneca Hitchman, who works at Affina Hotels.

This next exchange is the completely different.

"Last name was Larson right?," Oneca asked a guest.

Before Oneca could finish, the guest turned and walked away.

"He wasn't looking to chat, he didn't want to talk about his stay, he just wanted to get in and get out," said Oneca.

Another body language tip taught to staffers, it's refered to as, "flash at 15 feet". When a guest gets about 15 feet from you, raise your eyebrows up, it's a subtle, yet strong signal, that you are open and ready to engage

Over the phone, employees are taught to match and mirror, to speak in the same tone as the guest. One more tip in a place where comfort hour has replaced happy hour.

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