November 05, 2013

A Moment On The Lips: How Hot Chocolate Goes To Your Bottom Line

A Guest Post from Anne Tannam, Brand Manager at Islandbridge Brand Development

Earlier in the week, I was sitting in the foyer of a hotel close to Baggot Street waiting for a client to arrive. There was the usual mix of people sitting on the comfortable couches; tourists poring over city-break brochures, business people glued to their laptops, and inquisitive me: people-watching to pass the time.

Looking around, I noticed that though it was a Tuesday and very close to lunchtime, the restaurant beside me held only a handful of customers who, by and large, were eating on their own and in silence.

Hey, Is There Anyone Out There?

As my client had texted ahead to say she’d be another ten minutes, I decided to treat myself to a hot chocolate to hold off the hunger pangs until after the meeting. I tried to catch the eye of a member of staff to order but they all seemed distracted, moving quickly across the foyer with other business to attend to.

I glanced around at my fellow foyer visitors and saw most of them were also sitting there without drink or food and, more tellingly, without any interaction or banter with staff.

A Missed Opportunity

My client then arrived, declined the offer of a drink and we settled down to have our meeting. Afterwards, though hungry, I wasn’t tempted to stay for a bite of lunch and instead, nipped into the deli next door and ordered a sandwich to go (the hot chocolate would have to wait for another day).

As I cycled back to the office with both my helmet and brand manager hat on, I thought about my experience at the hotel and couldn’t help think that they had missed out on a very important opportunity. 

In money and bottom-line thinking, it probably doesn’t seem like much; eight to ten euros on a hot chocolate and a sandwich but the opportunity was so much bigger than that.

When You Say Nothing At All

Simply put, the hotel failed to invite me to become a customer. I was just someone sitting in the foyer of their hotel for an hour. During that time, there was no eye contact, no invitation to purchase and no attempt to establish the type of business relationship that might prompt me to return again or to recommend the hotel to others.

In short, despite the very comfy couch and the soft music playing in the background, I did not feel like a welcome guest. And that has to be the aim of all those working in the hospitality sector and the reason four billion euros was spent by tourists in Ireland in 2012. 

And I’m sure some of it was spent on hot chocolate!.

A Moment On The Lips

Bottom line is, as business owners and managers we must always remember that people are not just buying a product or service from us; they are buying an experience. We are social animals by nature and personal interaction with your customers, coupled with a clear offer and proposition, is likely to yield both far greater results and profit margins for your business and to create satisfied customers who feel welcome and appreciated and therefore much more likely to return again and again to relive the experience.

What Do You Think? What are the opportunities in your business both to make a sale and create a customer, who's likely to return again and recommend you to others?

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