Great food, a beautiful venue, and quality wine offerings can make for a great dining experience, but there is something that is far more important and often overlooked by venues, and speaks volumes as to how a dining experience will unfold.
A friendly greeting on arrival to a venue to me is a vitally important aspect of having an enjoyable dining experience. It’s a small gesture, but an Ohhh so important one in the service industry.
Imagine you walk in to a restaurant on a Saturday night. You have a booking and you’re meeting four of your closest friends to celebrate one of your friend’s birthdays. You’ve had a really busy week at work and are ready to let your hair down and have some fun, feeling extra special as you’ve had your hair done that day and you have a spring in your step... You arrive at a much anticipated restaurant you’ve been dying to try. You are the first of your party to arrive, the restaurant is a hive of activity, staff are buzzing around, tables are booked to capacity and the venue has an amazing buzz and atmosphere. You have a nervous anticipation of what a fun night it will be and you’re really looking forward to seeing your friends, it’s been a while between drinks!
You set foot in the door and immediately you are greeted by a lovely waitress clutching a handful of plates on her way to the kitchen, she looks up, smiles and playfully says “Happy Saturday, welcome, someone will be with you in just a jiffy” and off she whirls in to the heart of the busy venue, the kitchen. You walk a few steps closer to the bar and the bartender yells “Hello, you look like you’re in need of something special, how about a glass of this delightful Grenache I have in hand to get you going? We’ve just got it in and in my opinion it is just tops, would you like to try it?”
“Alright then, you’ve sold me” you say, having taken the hard work out of trolling through the extensive wine list for now. Instantly you feel more at ease and ready to have a fun night with your friends, you feel strangely at home in this heaving and busy venue. He then excitingly says “Can I start you with a bowl of olives at the bar with your drink whilst you wait for your friends?” The olives have just come in from a boutique provider in McLaren Vale and will go perfectly with your wine?”
“Sold and Sold!” As you sit down with your olives and your wine you are looking forward to seeing your friends and most of all you feel welcome, you feel like you’ve just walked in to your parents’ house and they’ve given you a hug, offered you a wine, and you can smell the delicious dinner bubbling on the stove in your mother’s kitchen. You feel oddly comfortable at this restaurant and it sets to the tone for a great night. You are of course not at home but the friendly and instant service has got you thinking...thinking about first impressions and how we all want to be made to feel welcome and accepted where ever we go. Your friends arrive not too long after this and a lovely host escorts you to your table, introducing you to your delightfully knowledgeable and smiling waitress who looks after you so well during the rest of the evening that you leave the venue feeling happy, full of food, and content and with a lighter wallet at the same time… But it was worth it!
Greeting guests on arrival and really making them feel welcome is such a small but important gesture in the dining experience, you want your customers to feel comfortable, welcome, and in the mood to enjoy the night and in turn spend more money in your establishment. People go out for many reasons but some of the main reasons are to have an experience, to treat themselves, try new things, and to enjoy not having to make the decisions about what to cook for dinner at home.
If you empower your employees to provide friendly and heartfelt greetings, this small adjustment in service will provide your customers with not only an experience with what they eat and drink, but also an experience that makes them feel good. Customers will come back again and again, because people go and seek out experiences that make them feel good about themselves. By making customers feel welcome and comfortable you can ensure that they have a great time in your venue.
How would you like to feel when you walk in to a restaurant? Think about that for a second, and then aim to treat every customers as you would like to feel and you can’t go wrong. Make them feel welcome, valued, and excited and they will come back. And tell their friends.
Never underestimate the value of a simple and free gesture – a smile. Tell us your thoughts?
Kate Bickford MD & Owner - BK AGENCY: