DTC Wine Guest Blog Post – Christopher Huber on Gracious Greetings


DTC Wine WorkshopsYears ago I worked with Marriott, within the Residence Inn division of 300 hotels. I was fortunate to be on the Quality Assurance team with an amazing leader and six of the best peers I’ve ever had the pleasure of working alongside. We had an invigorating, challenging task: to rework the entire Quality Assurance process. Our goal was to transform it from a punitive approach to a collaborative culture that focused on systemic improvement of guest satisfaction.

In addition to working on housekeeping and maintenance processes to reduce “defects,” we also studied service and developed relevant best practices. During this time, Marriott was embracing TQM (Total Quality Management), a continuous process improvement philosophy pioneered by Dr. Edward Deming. I was fascinated by process improvement because of the real wins I saw with teams experience. Those that were eager to embrace this new approach commonly operated the best hotels and achieved notable results with driving their Guest Satisfaction Survey scores.

A High-Value Touchpoint

One specific area calling out for improvement was the arrival touchpoint. A touchpoint or moment of truth is defined as any interaction a service employee has with a guest where the guest has an opportunity to evaluate the service being provided.

One of my favorite quotes I learned back then was Dale Carnegie’s, “you don’t get a second chance to make a first impression.” A first impression is a high-value touchpoint.

Our Quality Assurance team noted the most repeated greeting overheard during guest arrival in the afternoon was, “checking in?” This grabbed our attention because it wasn’t really a greeting! It was, merely a question or an assumption. A real greeting opens the door to warmly welcome a guest.

Through the years, I’ve heard similar greetings in tasting rooms. The most common one is… “Two for tasting?” (when two guests arrive). Like its hotel counterpart, this isn’t a greeting. Whatever it is, it’s missing the “I’m glad you’re here,” or “thanks for coming in to see us.”

What’s a Gracious Greeting?

A gracious greeting makes the guest feel welcome; it communicates gratitude and sincere interest. It says to the guest that they’re actually recognized and appreciated for their decision to visit. This is what we want guests to feel when they visit.

Check this out in your tasting room. Observe the greeting rituals you and your team use. What are the most common phrases you hear spoken to arriving guests? Do they genuinely communicate a welcome and a sentiment of “it’s good to see you” or “thanks for visiting today.” If not, work up some language with your team; play with it, test it. What’s the impact on the guest? You’ll be able to tell by watching your guest’s response. Your welcome sets the tone for the entire visit so be sure to make it memorable!


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About Sandra Hess

Sandra Hess, founder of DTC Wine Workshops and the DTC Consultant Network is a public speaker on the subject of direct to consumer wine sales and customer retention in the US.