Have you ever visited a friend, consulted at a company, spoken at an event and been overwhelmed by how welcomed and valued you felt? That is the result of someone intentionally exercising the art of hosting. Would you like to make your guest, visiting colleague, or guest speaker feel the same way? Here are some tips for being the best host you can be on any budget!
- Think about your guest’s needs in advance
Take a moment and think about who your guest is, who they are bringing with them, what they are here for, and what difficulties or challenges they might require.
The all popular welcome basket serves (or should serve) an important function. When you are in a hotel room or house that is not your own, grabbing a quick bite or snack can be challenging. A basket of a few snacks, especially if they take into account preferences and allergies, and a bottle of water can be a great way to say, “We are glad you are here!”
Do they need wifi passcodes? Instead of waiting for them to ask, write the code out on a card and put it in their room.
Will they be on their own most of the time? Include a list of local attractions, public transport options, or restaurant suggestions. There is nothing like seeing a city through the eyes of a local!
Do they have small children? Borrow a pack-n-play or remember to ask the hotel for a crib. Include snacks for little people or a small toy or book from your city.
Will they need a way to and from the airport? Plan a ride or make sure they have all the info they need to get where they are going.
Because you can’t anticipate every need, make sure that you ask questions along the way. And if it is a corporate event, provide a single person point of contact for any issues that might arise. That will save your guest a lot of stress and will help your guest know in advance it is okay to ask for help sorting the details of their stay.
2. Over communicate
If you are having an event, the easiest way to do this is to send a detailed agenda of the weekend in advance and then include a copy in the room. Remember to include when your guest will have free time and when there are scheduled events to attend. If some of the events are optional, make sure to mention that as well.
For a house guest, maybe take the time to draw up your own family schedule or even customs. If you guys all go to bed at 8:30, that would be good information to have at the beginning of the stay! Let your guest know when you will be gone so they can plan their own time accordingly. If you are taking your guest with you to an event, make sure they know what to wear, what to expect, how long it will last, and what (if anything) you expect of them. And if possible, give them a way out in case things feel a little awkward.
Ask lots of questions! Don’t assume your speaker likes a hand held mike or wants to speak behind a podium. Obviously, if that is your custom you can communicate that, but if there are options let them know. Ask if something will need to be printed. Ask if they have any questions! So often our guests have questions or issues but feel uncomfortable voicing them because we haven’t given them permission by asking questions ourselves.
And when you think you are over-communicating, communicate again!
3. Do the small things
For speakers, put a bottle of water by their chair or provide a quiet space for them to go before the event. Put their name on their seat so there is no doubt where they are supposed to sit. Double check the pronunciation of their name. Ask if they’d like to show pictures of their kids. Assign someone to them after the event in case they get lost, forget which way the restrooms are, or just need a moment alone.
For guests in your home, make sure there are fresh linens on the bed and two fluffy towels folded nicely for their use. I remember one friend who kept a suitcase caddy for guests. It made living out of my suitcase so much nicer for the week and reminded me that she really did want me in her home.
You don’t have to have a million dollars to make your guest feel special. Just do something small.
4. Go the extra mile
If you really want to be a super host, go the extra mile. Find out their favorite food and make sure you go there to eat. Buy one of their favorite chocolate bars and put it in the welcome basket.
We had one host who drove us around the city pointing out all the secret things we wouldn’t know as tourists. I fell in love with his city and was so grateful he (literally) went the extra mile.
5. Follow up
Texting your guest to make sure they arrived at their next destination safely is such an awesome finishing touch. And a handwritten thank you note for the visit is a whole other level of awesome. Followup can make a one time event into a life-long friendship.
What are some of your favorite ways of making a guest feel special? What essentials of hosting would you add? Has anyone ever blown you away with their ability to make you feel welcome and valued? Tell us the story!