How do you give an outlet “Soul”

One of the main topics I have spoken about over the past several years at international industry events, and as founding Principal of The Cutting Edge Hospitality Agency, the owning company of Vesper Bistro and Bar is creating concepts with Soul. So I thought, I would delve a little more into how best to achieve that for both new and existing operations.

Let’s start by defining “soul”…..Soul is the emotional and intellectual intensity associated with creativity. Soul is by its own definition a “feeling” and as such, this is how we should look at it when we look to our food and beverage operations. How do they make people feel?

A project I created and launched in Dubai previously was immediately commented on that it felt ‘lived-in’. It had an energy that we had created not just by the design, fixtures and fittings but by the energy created within the space through the engagement and focus of the colleagues.

But the one true element that gives an outlet soul is its emotional connection with its customers.

We regularly talk about the secret to generating repeat business in our operations and it has been clearly defined as being when the customer treats the outlet as their own place. This ability to create ‘shared ownership’ with your clientele is based on establishing and creating an emotional connection with that guest. The pride generated through that connection goes on to be the most powerful tool that any outlet can achieve, through its customers… that of shared ownership with the outlet. People want to feel nurtured and respected and when entering your outlet, they also want to be made to feel important. These key attributes go a long way to generating the heart and soul of an operation, thus leading toward that pinnacle of delivering true hospitality.

As I have stated previously across many forums, those responsible for ensuring your outlet has soul are those on the front line of daily operations…Your team.

If they too can feel pride and experience some form of emotional connection with the outlet, this carries forth and multiplies innumerably with your customer base.

I grant you this is the most challenging part of creating outlets with soul, but it is one that with a focus on true and honest employee engagement, where successes are heralded and failures are learnings, the very heart of the operation will continue to beat consistently.

It is humbling sometimes to step out of the daily operations for a minute and look at the people coming into your establishment and so for those of you who would like to inject more soul into your operation, I challenge you to look at your guest again…..for the first time, as they walk in with an invisible sign around their neck saying, ’Make me feel important’ and take it from there.

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