Customer perception can be influenced
It has been established that beliefs and emotional dispositions influence our situational responses and behavior. We as human beings do not make purely objective and rational decisions, it always resonates with another level.
This also holds true in consumption situations such as in the hospitality context. For instance, differently perceived meat qualities from farmed and organic origin influenced the emotional predisposition and beliefs of consumers to the extent that meat described as farmed was judged of less quality and was consumed less. So we can state that beliefs influence how people evaluate food. Wine tastes better when people believe it is expensive - even when the two wine samples are actually identical. Similarly, coffee labelled as "eco-friendly" tasted better to people than identical unlabelled coffee.
The hotel and guest experience itself can also be influenced
If it is now possible to influence customer perception, experiences in hotels and restaurants can also be managed. How?
Hospitality management can generate matching hotel and guest experiences that are individualized and emotion focused, that are respectful and trust building, and that are ultimately mutual, rather than commercial, in the original sense of the expression: hospitality.
In turn, emotionally created memories are powerful determinants of guests’ future behavior, especially in the pre- and post-stay phases. This requires emotional skills, but if they are in place, this leads to customer loyalty.
Affective science addresses these unconscious decisions
If affective conditioning of customers can be such a determinant factor for guest choices, affective science is the logic approach to provide the hotel market with important information for future development.
Affective means relating to, arising from, or influencing feelings or emotions. The philosophy of “Affective Science” emphasizes basic research on emotion, culture, and psychopathology. This scientific approach is based on experimental, psychophysiological, neural, and genetic methods to test theory about psychological mechanisms underlying human behavior.
SSTH as Hotel Management School has entered into a cooperation with the Affective Science Institute of Geneva and has integrated the scientifically based solutions that can be applied in hospitality into the curriculum. Emotional intelligence, empathy, as well as the necessary verbal and non-verbal communication - are soft skills that can be trained.
Hospitality industry has to change towards emotions
Recent changes in social values and lifestyles have turned emotions into the core drivers of individual well-being. Over the last two decades, emotions research has been included in many scientific disciplines but hospitality has not yet embraced this affective revolution yet.
In an increasingly digital pre-stay and post-stay environment, guests want to be appreciated holistically with their emotions, moods, and desires during their stay. They would like to be emotionally stimulated throughout their travel journey. They expect a new quality of emotional triggers that consciously appeal to them on a meta-level and allow them to identify on a positive affective level with a brand.
In that sense, the new emotion economy in hospitality shifts the USP focus from the general physical and psychological well-being of guests (food, safety, entertainment) to individualized emotional well-being.