Crowne Plaza has partnered with emotional intelligence experts at The School of Life to teach its hotel staff to be more intuitive to guests’ needs. Rose Dykins reports

The hotel brand wants to ease guests’ anxiety by fine-tuning its staff’s ability to read and respond to their behavioural cues.

The “Dare to Connect” training – developed from School of Life’s “Life Skills” modules –  identifies six core emotional intelligence skills: vulnerability, self-belief, connection, anticipation, authenticity and perseverance. 

The idea is for the hotel brand’s staff members to be better equipped to recognise cues in guest behaviour, and make natural, authentic connections with guests, rather than simply following a script.

The modules educate staff on ways to alleviate guests’ anxiety by responding to and anticipating their emotional needs. In 2019, Crowne Plaza will launch the training programme across its 98 European hotels. 

Dare to Connect was piloted at four of the brand’s UK properties this year and, according to Crowne Plaza, the overall service scores at these hotels have grown by at least four percentage points compared with previous years, while overall experience scores grew by as much as five per cent. What’s more, the brand says these hotels received “an influx of positive guest reviews”.

Mike Greenup, vice-president of marketing for Crowne Plaza, says: “While we understand that business travellers appreciate efficient and functional service, we’ve seen how applying an added layer of empathy to our guest interactions, greatly improves the stay experience. The School of Life is really helping us achieve this by equipping our team members with the tools to give them confidence to deliver this deeper, more emotional level of service.” 

Sarah Stein, head of content at The School of Life said: “Emotionally intelligent connections between hotel team members and travellers helps create a positive feedback loop. Customers want to return to a brand not only because the products or services are good, but because they feel, in a more significant way, that they are understood and belong there. Guests are far more likely to continue using a service and to praise it if they feel this connection.” 

The investment in human empathy and authenticity comes at a time when many hotels are putting their money in artificial intelligence, employing robot staff (for example, at various Aloft and Hotel Jen properties) and installing AI-powered voice-recognition in hotel rooms (Hilton Connected Room and so on). Crowne Plaza demonstrates that the personal touch is unlikely to go away any time soon.