For a long time now I have been fascinated by the psychology of memory. Isn’t it crazy that we remember some things but not everything?

Selective memory has been studied for decades and the one thing that crops up again and again is emotion. If an experience has a strong emotive response in you, good or bad, you are more likely to remember it.

According to Prof. Fabian Kloosterman at the NeuroElectronics Research Flanders: “Scientists have found that highly demanding and rewarding experiences result in stronger memories.”

I had personal experience of this reward experience a few years ago. I brought my parents on an overnight trip to Lough Eske Castle Hotel in Donegal, I had worked on the interiors and was very proud of how it had turned out. The refurbishment of the castle and grounds was and still is wonderful, but to my disappointment, the year long body of work I was so excited about only played a small part in their memory of our trip!

We arrived to the hotel after our drive from Dublin and the first thing I wanted to do was to show them around every piece of artwork and sideboard, but not before we got our first glass of a welcoming prosecco! When a senior member of staff offered to accompany us around the castle, another member of staff stood guard over our drinks by our table awaiting our return. My mother was so impressed with this, she felt like a celebrity. Reward.

When breakfast came the following morning, my dad ordered his usual choice of breakfast, a bowl of porridge. As we sat waiting for our hot food, the head chef appeared from the kitchen to ask my dad specific queries about how he would like his porridge – would he like cinnamon, honey, sugar or lemon as a topping? Would he prefer it made with milk or cream? My dad felt like the most important person in the world, all this attention to detail over a simple bowl of porridge!

He still says it was the best bowl of porridge he’s ever eaten. Reward. This is what amazing personal service can bring to your guests. Although, this can also work in the opposite way too, if a guest has a negative or demanding experience, they are sure to remember it for a long time.

When it comes to providing customers with an unforgettable guest experience that they will remember and talk about, you have to encourage an emotional response. The idea here is to offer something personal or exciting or even surprising in order for them to have a positive memory.

Particularly in this year of staycations, inspiring your Irish guests to enthusiastically recommend your hotel, B&B or guesthouse to friends and family will translate to a positive payback for your business.

Maria is the creative director in ADI Studio Interior Architects who has spent the last twenty years focusing on the hospitality industry. With emphasis on promoting a positive guest experience aligned with the roll out of global sustainable trends, Maria will create a scheme that reflects your unique brand and progressive offering to help you stand out from your competition. Get in touch for a chat on 0872926205 or mrice@adistudio.ie to arrange a meeting.

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