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Emotions: a new currency for the hospitality industry

In an era of digitalisation, robotics and pandemics, the world of work and services is changing rapidly. Jobs and activities are increasingly being automated, and employees and workplaces are more and more remote, dispersed, virtual and global.

While this technology and transformation brings with it many opportunities and benefits, including increased flexibility, productivity and performance, it is critical however to not lose sight of the human touch, says EHL Group, which delivers hospitality management education and innovation worldwide from its headquarters in Switzerland.

The hospitality industry revolves around people interacting and helping other people. Being friendly, welcoming, attentive, and people-orientated are inherent to the profession as is being able to deal with different personalities, emotions and client-demands. So it’s no surprise that one of the most desirable competencies of a hospitality employee is emotional intelligence.

Studies have shown that hospitality professionals possess above average emotional intelligence. A good thing too as guests and clients today expect more than just a room to stay in or a meal to eat. They are looking for memorable experiences – ones that trigger a positive emotion which allows them to identify on an affective level with a brand or product.

Only emotionally charged experiences in a hotel or restaurant succeed in anchoring themselves in the long-term memory of guests and client, creating satisfaction and loyalty. This in turn can translate into future purchase intentions and recommendations, thus generating a decisive competitive advantage.

Today, soft skills like emotional intelligence, empathy and integrity, are in growing demand for employees and leaders, and it’s easy to see how emotional intelligence (EQ) has a role to play in housekeeping, both with colleagues and guests.

Emotional intelligence is the ability to recognize, understand, and manage both one’s own emotions and that of others. It is widely acknowledged that emotional intelligence can be broken down into four core competencies: self-awareness, self-management, social awareness or social skills, and relationship management.

As the sector looks to tap into this new emotion economy and create more experience-oriented services that are associated with emotions, employees with high EQ are precisely the talent and skill needed to help businesses deliver outstanding experiences in the multi-cultural environments typically found in the hospitality industry.

Individuals with high EQ have a tendency then to be more attuned to their feelings and that of others, making them more empathetic, mindful, agile, diplomatic and genuine. The workplace is all about building and maintaining relationships and collaborating well with team members or with partners to generate results. Individuals possessing high emotional intelligence are inherently equipped to manage interpersonal relations effectively and create productive work environments.

Here are six ways that a high EQ workforce adds value and boosts an organisation’s productivity.

1. Their empathy improves communication.

With their tact, sensitivity and authenticity, highly emotionally intelligent individuals adapt their communication style to the person or group with which they are interacting. Their heightened self-awareness also enables better listening, and listening with the intent of understanding, rather than simply responding.

2. Their adaptability promotes problem solving and innovation.

Recognising that change is inevitable, high EQ employees are highly adaptable to the people and circumstances around them making them flexible and open to change, to new ideas and to exploring innovative solutions. They also tend to accept constructive feedback and criticism well, channelling it into a positive direction to continuously improve themselves, their work, and their teams.

3. Their intrinsic motivation gets things done.

Emotionally intelligent individuals have a tendency tobe more self-driven and self-disciplined, meaning they are proactive at taking initiatives and doing the work, or ensuring the work gets done. They are also very good at engaging with and motivating peers, inspiring them to do their best and improving team performance.

4. Their ability to manage emotions mitigates conflicts.

Skilled at managing both their own emotions and that of others even under pressure, employees with a high emotional quotient are better able to handle and resolve conflict, either involving themselves or between others. They are less susceptible to being ‘hot-headed’ and responding to frustrating situations with counter-productive reactions, but rather to staying cool, calm and collected.

5. Their mindfulness strengthens collaboration and teamwork

With an innate capacity of seeing situations from other points of view, sensing unspoken feelings and a genuine care for people, emotionally intelligent employees have a knack for forming bonds and relationships and fostering a sense of belonging.

6. Their people-centricity encourages valuable partnerships.

High EQ employees, with their exceptional interpersonal and communication skills and capacity of connecting emotionally with others, are well-equipped to understanding and meeting (prospective) client and partner needs, building and maintaining strong relationships, enhancing employee engagement and customer satisfaction.

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