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What Is The Importance of Effective Communication in the Hospitality Industry

Effective communication is vital in any industry, but it’s particularly crucial in sectors where you interact with the public daily, like hospitality.

In this dynamic field, you’re likely to encounter individuals from diverse backgrounds with varying needs, including those with hood hypersensitivities. Whether it’s communicating with guests to ensure their satisfaction or coordinating with staff to deliver high-quality service, effective communication is essential to success of any hospitality business. Hence, the main role of your communication strategy should always prioritise inclusivity and mutual understanding.

In this article, we’ll delve into the pivotal role of communication in the hospitality industry, irrespective of whether you work in a small coffee shop or a large chain restaurant, as a team leader or as a weekend worker. We’ll dissect why effective communication is so important, exploring its benefits and the potential obstacles you might encounter. Moreover, we’ll equip you with practical tips to enhance your communication skills.

What’s the role of communication in hospitality?

Effective communication skills play an important role in every business, no matter its size or the number of people they deal with. Consider your role in hospitality – whether you’re communicating solely with kitchen staff or engaging with hundreds of paying customers. Reflect on how you communicate with these people, for example, is it face-to-face or over the phone?

Given the diverse nature of the hospitality industry, where you will likely be interacting with multiple different people on a daily basis, whether customers, staff or suppliers, adopting effective communication skills is essential.

But, how?

Firstly, it’s important that you can understand each of these different people has different communication needs, so you should recognise how to tailor your approach accordingly for each individual.

The main role of communication in the hospitality industry is to promote inclusion, understanding and clarity for your customers.

To help with this, it’s beneficial to dissect communication into two categories: verbal and non-verbal. Verbal communication refers your words spoken and to your use of body language. When combined, verbal and non-verbal communication help to give people an overall picture of your message, so be mindful of how the two interact. For instance, consider how someone’s body language may contradict their verbal apology for tardiness.

However, in all situations, be sure to consider the individual needs of the person you’re speaking to, as misunderstandings can arise if you’re unaware of someone’s communication difficulties. For example, individual on the autistic spectrum may not maintain regular eye contact, but this doesn’t signify lack of trustworthiness or interest. Similarly, those with a cognitive impairment may require adjusted communication styles, such as speaking more slowly or loudly.

Additionally, customers with food hypersensitivities may require more clarity and understanding from you. In cases of severe allergies, they may be particularly anxious and the way you communicate with them can help to put them at ease.

Why is effective communication important in the hospitality industry?

  • Improves relationships: Within the workplace, it cultivates cohesion among team members and nurtures rapport between staff and customers.
  • Promotes inclusivity: By acknowledging the unique needs of individuals, as both staff members and customers, it ensures everyone feels valued and heard.
  • Ensures a safe experience: Particularly crucial for those with food hypersensitivities, it facilitates clear and empathetic communication, promoting safety and trust.
  • Increases productivity: By establishing transparent expectations and facilitating seamless collaboration, everyone has clear expectations for their standard of work and recognises how to ask for help.
  • Leads to increased sales: By providing comprehensive information about services and menu offerings, it allows customers to make informed choices.

What are the potential communication obstacles in the hospitality industry?

Navigating communication in the hospitality industry can be tough. Sometimes you’ll find yourself involved in a tricky conversation with a colleague or a customer. Misunderstandings can also happen if communication is ineffective, leading to conflict or customer dissatisfaction.

Often, the reason for poor communication is because of barriers that prevent you from communicating effectively. For example:

  • Noise – Restaurants can get pretty loud, and it can be difficult to make out what people are saying, even if they’re shouting.
  • Different languages – Language barriers can occur in many industries but particularly in restaurants where the majority of workers are from overseas. If you work in a touristy area or big city, you may also serve non-English speaking customers on a regular basis.
  • Accessibility – Certain disabilities and neurodivergence can make communication more difficult or not as accessible – and even more so if you’re unaware that a customer or colleague needs additional help understanding.
  • Demanding customers – Sometimes, a customer will have a complaint or a question and won’t let you get a word in. This makes communication difficult because the conversation is one-sided and gives you little chance to offer assistance.
  • Closed body language – Body language and other forms of non-verbal communication are just as important to remember when you are trying to communicate effectively. Closed body language includes: little or no eye contact, limited facial expressions and creating barriers with items or folded arms. These can make you seem disinterested and unapproachable.
  • Not listening properly – There is a difference between simply hearing and actively listening. The latter involves reacting to what has been said in a meaningful way. People can easily get frustrated if they feel they are not being properly heard.

How can I improve my communication skills?

Improving your communication skills is straightforward and has a lot of benefits for you and your customers. Sometimes, just making a few small changes can make a big difference in how well you get your message across.

Here are some simple tips to help you get better at communication:

  • Seek feedback regularly from your coworkers and try to use what they tell you. Identify areas where you could improve, such as enhancing your ability to listen to kitchen staff’s responses to customer orders. Listen attentively to feedback from customers too. They can give you helpful advice on how to improve. Really pay attention to their suggestions and try to make changes based on what they tell you.
  • If you’re in charge of a team, make sure to schedule regular meetings to keep everyone informed and engaged. This fosters an open conversation, encourages questions, and ensures important information is effectively communicated.
  • Equip yourself with strategies to handle challenging conversations, whether it’s resolving disagreements with colleagues or addressing customer concerns. Sometimes it’s better to walk away and end the conversation rather than retaliate. You could also call in a manager to help explain something or pause and rephrase your point in a clearer manner.
  • If language barriers are a problem in your business, then you could offer training in video format as well as written documents. Use simple words rather than jargon, print menus in different languages and with pictures.
  • Remember the importance of inclusive language for those who need extra help understanding due to a disability or neurodivergence. Amongst many other things, this may mean speaking slower, allowing someone to see your face when speaking if they need to lip-read, offering large-print menus or choosing words that are much clearer and more specific.
  • Adopt an open body language. Keep in mind the attitude you want to convey with the body language you use. Open body language includes: direct and regular eye contact, having uncrossed arms and legs, using a range of facial expressions and maintaining a relaxed posture.
  • Be prepared to show empathy and understanding, especially when dealing with customers with additional requirements.