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Don’t Forget the Basics: Guest Service 101

There are many new aspects of guest experience that changed as a result of the pandemic.  Factors that were never previously concerning are now top of mind for guests on a regular basis.  It is critical to look at how your guests’ expectations have changed and adjust your operating plan to fit it.  Once that is in place, you can move forward with exceeding expectations.

But let’s take a step back.  While you focus on updating your standard operating procedure to navigate these new challenges, don’t lose sight that the core attributes of guest experience have never changed.  Your staff must be friendly and upbeat, and meet your guests’ baseline expectations.  Guest service 101 must remain in place and intact.



Need a quick refresher or boost for your staff?  Take a quick look at the fundamentals of guest service, which act as the foundation for any positive guest experience.  Whenever you are in front of guests, make sure you meet the following basics:


  • Smile.  Never lose sight of the fact that guests are visiting because they want to have fun and create memories with their family and friends.  A smile is a small gesture that goes a long way in showing guests that you’re excited to be there too.
  • Make eye contact.  Give your guests undivided attention by looking them in the eye when they approach, when speaking with them, and as you’re sending them off.  Not only is it respectful, it helps to build trust when guests have questions or concerns.
  • Stand up.  Whenever possible, standing offers a more professional appearance in front of guests and it creates a more welcoming environment.  Your feet might hurt at the end of the day, so make sure to rest during breaks while you are back of house.
  • Maintain proper posture.  In addition to standing, always avoid slouching, being hunched over, or leaning against walls and countertops.  Just like standing, proper posture gives off a much more professional appearance.
  • Keep arms unfolded.  When your arms are folded, you are telling guests that you are reserved and unapproachable.  It might feel more comfortable, but with practice you can eliminate the natural tendency to fold your arms.
  • Keep hands out of pockets.  Try to recognize when your hands are in your pockets – it might happen more often than you think.  Instead, keep them at your sides, clasped together in front, or behind your back; whichever feels the most natural.  Just like keeping your arms unfolded, keeping your hands out of your pockets shows guests that they can approach you.
  • Greet the guest first.  Always strive to be the first to talk!  Even if it is a friendly “hello” or “good morning,” greeting the guest first shows that you are there to help if they have a question.  Better yet, pair this with making eye contact at 10 feet and offer a verbal greeting at 5 feet for the best timing.
  • Be in uniform.  Your uniform gives guests visual cues for who they can approach with a question or a concern.  Being in full uniform while in front of guests shows that you are a professional and ready to help, especially when everything else on this list is also being met.
  • Keep your phone away.  Get rid of all distractions!  The guest in front of you is the most important, and especially when working in a safety position, a cell phone becomes a hazard unless it is completely out of sight.  Check your messages and social media when you are on break and out of view from guests.
  • No eating, drinking or smoking.  Have you ever tried to ask someone for help while they were scarfing down a slice of pizza?  Probably not, and if you have then I’m guessing they weren’t a big help.  By keeping mealtimes confined to your breaks shows that you can offer your guests undivided attention by never eating, drinking, or smoking in the guests’ view. 
  • Project a friendly attitude.  All of this leads to always projecting a welcoming demeanor every moment that you are in front of guests.  This can include walking to and from your work location and offering to assist guests who might appear confused or need help, regardless if you are on the clock or not.


These guest service basics must be implemented by all staff members at all times while front of house and in guest view.  This is the foundation to providing an excellent guest experience.

Once you have mastered the basics, you can then focus on next levels of guest experience: meeting expectations, exceeding expectations, and driving guest loyalty.