How is it that we are able to just ‘click’ with some people, and with others it’s a real uphill struggle? When I’m training I frequently get asked to help delegates establish rapport. In hospitality – whether you are in a hotel, restaurant, café, spa or conference centre, the ability to build rapport is key. Having rapport with you hotel guests or restaurant diners will inevitably give them a better experience, but it’s also important to have rapport with suppliers and staff, in turn making our job a lot easier and more enjoyable.
And of course it’s important that our team know how to build rapport too, so they can do their job effectively.
What is rapport
Rapport is a relationship of mutual understanding or trust and agreement between people. It is what happens at an unconscious level that makes us ‘click’ and is enhanced by a perception of likeness and liking. It includes the ability to see the other person’s point of view (even though you may not necessarily agree with it), and is a vital element in any form of communication, including the business context.
Indicators of good rapport include
- Similar body posture
- Gesture in similar ways
- Same rhythm in movement and speech
- Breathing levels are similar
- Voice tone
Why is rapport important for your hospitality business?
So let’s establish why rapport is important for your hospitality business be it a hotel, restaurant, café, spa or conference centre.
How often have you heard “She was so rude”, “He just didn’t seem to care”, “You don’t understand”, “I’m not sure if I trust him”. Rapport gives the ability to relate to others in a way that creates a climate of trust, openness and understanding; it is a key part of building relationships in the business world. Having the ability to build rapport helps with:
Customers: All things being equal people will have a better experience being served by people they can relate to, and are more likely to do business with people with whom they have good rapport. And by maintaining that rapport throughout will enable us to identify what our customers really want, to help us provide the best services we can. And the more relaxed and at ease our hotel or restaurant customer the higher their willingness to spend, and ultimately the greater our chances of further business.
Suppliers: Be it your butcher, your plumber or your accountant, having a good rapport usually leads to better service, puts us in a better position to negotiate when we need to, and makes it easier to ask for assistance when it’s needed.
Your team: Having great rapport with your team will open up 2 way communication and builds trust. You’ll get the best out of them if they feel comfortable to make suggestions, they are less likely to be critical of ideas offered to them, and for you it will be a lot easier to call in a favour when it’s needed. And it makes for a more pleasant working environment all round. Having good rapport with management is likely to have a rub off effect in increasingly the likelihood of a staff having a good rapport with your customers too.
Tomorrow we’ll look at how to build rapport.