Since first-time guests decide in the first 8 minutes if they're going to return or not, it's vital to make them feel comfortable as you greet them, help them check-in and walk them to their rooms.
One of the best ways to do this is to engage them in conversation. Think about how you feel when you walk into a place of business and the hosts are friendly and engaging with their conversation. It puts you at ease and helps you feel at home, doesn't it? Compare that to the awkwardness you feel when you walk into a place and are met with a cold, quick greeting with little, if any, interest shown toward you. Big difference, isn't it?
That being said, all conversations aren't created equal. Conversation that makes people feel comfortable and welcomed is an art. The good news, it's an art that can be learned. Let's take a look at 10 ways you and your team can get better at talking with first-time guests.
Find people with the right personality. It's a lot easier to sharpen the conversation skills of someone who actually likes people. Look for people who have a pleasant attitude and wear a smile. If you currently have someone on your greeter team who is short with people or moody, it would be best to move them to another role.
Make eye contact. Ever walk into a place of business and the person behind the desk doesn't even look up to acknowledge your presence? Or they look at you, but you can tell they're looking past you? Makes you feel devalued, doesn't it? Don't let that be you and your team. Look guests in the eye as you greet them. This lays the foundation for a great conversation.
Use their name. Quickly find out their name and use it. When you use a person's name, it draws them into the conversation.
Show interest in them. If you really don't care about your guests, they will sense it. Talk about their interests. People love to talk about themselves.
Acknowledge it can feel awkward to be at a new place. If you sense they are nervous, especially the children, put them at ease by telling them you know it can be scary walking into a new place, but you're so glad they're here and you're going to help them feel right at home. Doing this can help put them at ease.
Ask open-ended questions. Give them opportunities to share by asking open-ended questions.
Find something in common. As you talk with them, look for things you have in common. Perhaps you have family in the state they moved from. Maybe your kids are the same age. Find something that will give you a connection with them.
Use FOR to spark conversation.
- F - Family
- O - Occupation
- R - Recreation (what do they like to do for fun)
Have a few backup questions ready. If you're having a hard time getting the conversation going, have some backup questions ready from a variety of subjects such as sports, weather, school, etc. Just make sure it's not a controversial topic. This is not the time to bring up politics.
More than the sermon, more than the music, more than the building, guests will first and foremost remember how you made them feel. Use your conversation to make them feel welcome, accepted and comfortable, and they will return.