The power of emotional intelligence


Tips for hoteliers to improve EQ skills for better leadership and guest relations


Emotional intelligence, also known as EQ, is defined as the ability to understand and manage your own emotions, as well as recognize and influence the emotions of others. Why is EQ so critical for hoteliers to develop and strengthen? Because, at its core, hospitality is about creating positive emotional experiences.

Example: At the Ritz-Carlton, a brand synonymous with exceptional customer service, emotionally intelligent interactions are at the forefront of guest satisfaction. Leaders at the Ritz-Carlton invest in EQ training to ensure staff can read and respond to guest emotions effectively, leading to memorable guest experiences.

Leading a team, providing excellent customer service, and resolving conflicts all require the ability to grasp nuanced emotions and respond effectively. Hoteliers who sharpen their EQ skills have an advantage when it comes to motivating staff, delighting guests, and driving better business outcomes.

Expert Insight: “Emotional intelligence is the strongest predictor of performance, explaining a full 58% of success in all types of jobs.” – Dr. Travis Bradberry, author of “Emotional Intelligence 2.0.”

Actionable tips for hoteliers to improve key areas of emotional intelligence

Self-awareness means understanding your own emotions, motivations, and triggers. Hoteliers who know themselves well can recognize when they’re becoming angry or impatient and regulate their response.

  • Carve out time for self-reflection each day through journaling, meditating, or just a quiet walk alone.
  • Seek feedback from your staff and colleagues to gain insight into how your actions impact others.
  • Notice your emotional triggers. Do certain guest complaints or employee behaviors irk you more than others? By identifying these patterns, you can consciously pause before reacting.

With strong self-awareness comes the ability to manage your emotional responses thoughtfully, even during times of stress.

  • Stay composed in difficult situations with guests or staff by taking a few deep breaths before responding.
  • Count to 10 when dealing with frustrating scenarios.
  • Know when to walk away and revisit a heated conflict later when emotions have cooled down.

Inspiring staff requires connecting their work to values and painting a compelling vision of the future.

  • Align staff’s day-to-day work with larger purpose. Remind them their roles create welcoming experiences for guests.
  • Publicly recognize staff contributions and progress to boost morale.
Case Study: The Hyatt’s “Care and Gratitude” initiative boosted employee morale by recognizing and rewarding staff’s efforts in creating exceptional guest experiences. This motivational strategy led to increased guest satisfaction scores.

Truly listening and validating staff and guests’ perspectives leads to deeper mutual understanding and stronger connections.

  • Listen deeply to staff concerns and frustrations.
  • Pay attention to nonverbal cues like facial expressions and tone of voice.
  • Validate others’ perspectives by acknowledging their thoughts and feelings, even if you disagree.

A hotelier’s ability to build rapport through emotional awareness directly impacts the service experience.

  • Use humor judiciously to defuse tense guest situations and bond with staff.
  • Resolve conflicts diplomatically by remaining calm, finding common ground, and compromising when needed.
  • Be approachable and authentic in interactions. This builds trust and likability.

By developing your emotional intelligence across these areas, you gain the people skills and self-control needed to thrive as a hotelier in our uniquely demanding field. The payoff is more cohesive teamwork, higher guest satisfaction, and lower staff turnover. Make EQ a priority, and you’ll be amazed by the positive ripple effects throughout your hotel.

Anton Safonov possesses nearly two decades of experience in multi-unit hotel operations. As co-founder and chief strategy officer at Aquarius Hospitality Solutions, Anton assists hotel clients in embedding sustainability and wellness into their operations. His experience with major hotel brands shows his commitment to service quality and profits. Anton advocates for women in hospitality through his work with Hertelier, underscoring his commitment to diversity and inclusion. As a US Navy Veteran with a B.S. in hospitality management, Anton drives positive change through his passion for learning and operational excellence. He is also a HTNG consultant member of American Hotel & Lodging Association.

Michelle Jensen Session brings more than 15 years of hospitality experience as principal of Kensington Investment Group and co-founder of Aquarius Hospitality Solutions. Her expertise spans strategic planning, budget management, sustainability, and staff development. Michelle championed diversity and inclusion initiatives at UC San Diego, receiving the Diversity Champion award. She is an AAHOA HerOwnership member committed to advancing women hoteliers. Michelle facilitates training on leadership, HR, and environmental sustainability. Her passion for service excellence and community drives her work.


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