Travelers that seek luxurious experiences are also looking to enrich their trip in every way possible. Sometimes luxurious is assumed to be cold and impersonal while less luxurious is perceived as being warm and personal. It does not have to be that way. Luxurious travel spots are seeking to find middle ground between providing excellent quality services while keeping a human and more spontaneous relationship with guests. Although, informal might sound paradoxical when compared to luxury it’s just a way to exemplify that even those with extremely high standards don’t want to be treated as robots. Instead they still seek human contact that is genuine and candid.

“I believe the future of service will be based in informality. It has to be more relaxed, more instantaneous, more of real life-contact with people” Dominic Gorham, guest relation manager at Oslo’s modern luxury hotel The Thief.

casual setting in hotel lobby

Maximize interaction with your guests

A guests’ service expectation starts the second they walk in the door. That can either be the greetings from the valet parking people or the receptionist that welcomes them into the hotel. Regardless of who that first person of contact is, it will shape the way the guest views the hotel and its staff. So making sure you greet your guests with a smile and kind words is highly important. Receiving guests with cold water and refreshments the moment they walk in is a great way to make them feel at home. The rolling buffet cart is perfect for setting up “welcome” cocktails and snacks. It gives the opportunity for one of your hotel managers to approach them and give them a personal welcome. More than that they can get a feel for the guests’ expectations.

mixology station using service cart

It is crucial that your staff is able to read the guest and cater to his personality. Figuring out if they are serious and uptight or more relaxed can give you the cue on how informal or personable you can be with them. Having displays in common areas invite people to interact is a great way to break the walls of formality between the guests and the staff. The mobile F&B banquet tables can really enhance the guests experience and at the same time keep them satisfied and hydrated! Here are some ideas of beautifully put together displays.

tables with food display

In case your hotel is a common destination for distinguished or famous travelers it is extra important to keep the treatment casual and friendly. These travelers more often than not are looking for a getaway and by making them feel at home it will give them a reason to come back.

“Many times here I’m recommending these people jump on a horse and go into the woods to pick some berries” Gorham

Does your furniture encourage interaction

Getting creative with the furniture displays can sometimes portray a challenge. Often getting it moved and set up can make it complicated if your hotels is big and highly populated. Therefore creating very extravagant and bulky displays actually takes away from the experience instead of enhancing it. In this case coffee tables for hotels are perfect since they are small and fit every corner and compliment every hall. They are transportable and it takes no more than one person to move it around. Having them spread out throughout your hotel can really change the vibe, simply adding coffee in the buffet waiting area can make people even forget they are waiting to be seated.

delicious finger food display

At the entrance of your hotel or even in the entrance of some of your best restaurants it would be a great idea to set up a  rolling buffet cart with small finger foods and complementary wine. This is the time for your staff to shine and truly show their service skills. In case people are in the mood to spice it up, your bartenders could use the same rolling buffet cart to set up a mixology station and prepare pre dinner drinks. This will definitely give the restaurant some edge!

In different dining options the mobile buffet stations are a great tool to spike customer and service staff interactions. The fact that multiple configurations can be set up in a way where you can have people serving the food or simply stand close to oversee that nothing runs out. These will raise the bar of customer service and it will also give the guest the opportunity to let servers know if they need anything else brought to their table. Also, banquet food stations that include hot inductions are fantastic for entertaining your guests with a one of a kind culinary experience. Dish customization and personal preparation continues to raise the bar of informal treatment that in the eye of the guest is fashionable and luxurious. How about a pasta bar with different ingredients and sauces or being able to pick exactly what you want in your sushi. The options here are endless!!

chefs serving food to guest

customized food options on buffet

The approach

The main reason why informality is starting to take such a strong shift in luxury travel is because the basic perspective has changed. In order to be considered luxurious, in the past, it had to be classical, quiet and even the staff had to be perfectly dressed, clean shaven and piercing and tattoos were highly forbidden. Now, individuality and personality is what sets hotels and staff appart. Being able to distinguish your hotel with a certain decoration or food & beverage furniture that is unique and stylish can truly bring your presentations to the next level. There are some great add-ons such as the white and blue canopy which allows you to transport your guests to a fair or outdoor venue while the sign post is great to add personality to your station.

station being displayed on wooden floor

“In luxury hospitality, informal does not mean thoughtless and when used correctly I believe informality actually plays an important role in cultivating a luxury experience”  Xavier Lablaude, general manager at the Belmond Mount Nelson Hotel

Changing the emphasis

Although, many people like this friend type atmosphere not all five-star guests enjoy this kind of treatment. It takes high personal skills to read a customer and know what kind of service they are expecting. It is up to the staff to adapt and know what kind of guest is walking through the doors.

“A guest’s reactions and responses will immediately give an indication as to the style of service they seek”  Lindsy Terry, sales and marketing manager at Ellerman House.

Having managers readily available when guests arrive and offering a quick tour of the facilities can be a great way to gain their trust and also gain insights on what their expectations are for their stay. You can also take that opportunity to show them dining areas where your elegant buffet stations designs can convince them to later on book a reservation. It is also a great chance to tell them about the luxuries that the the hotel offers including continental breakfast in bed where you can use the rolling buffet cart.

stainless steel pro bar with bar man

Encouraging face to face interactions with the concierge is also a great way to grasp ideas of what your guests are looking for. In case the interaction is over the phone, the voice tone should remain friendly and sound eager to help.

At the end of the day, it’s all about knowing the boundaries between informal yet impeccable service and informal yet terrible service. It’s about knowing your customer and knowing what your property has to offer. But regardless, creating a memorable experience is all up to you. Fabricating mesmerizing first impressions will keep your guests eager to return. Remember it’s all about the details; that being a refreshing cocktail on the rolling buffet cart or a homemade chocolate chip cookie displayed in a creative way. Create displays that encourage interaction and find fun yet elegant ways to set your hotel image to high standards without losing the personal and intimate setting.