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Soft Skills, “Hospitude” And Affective Hospitality

Posted on 15/12/2020

image of article Soft Skills, “Hospitude” And Affective Hospitality

The highly respected partner of a renowned Swiss private bank was once asked why he recruits students from the Ecole hôtelière de Lausanne (EHL), who after all are not educated to become investment specialists. He answered with this story:  


“We once paid a small fortune to a headhunter to find us a good portfolio manager. Their search turned up a graduate from a top American business school with a few years’ experience in a very famous American private bank. He looked good, and we enthusiastically hired him… but to our disappointment, we had to fire him after only one month. You see, as a specialist in the techniques of wealth management, he was very good. But when he met with some of our clients who happened to be well known personalities, he asked them for their autograph. In a Swiss private bank, a client – even someone who is a VIP in the outside world – wishes to remain a private person, and to be treated accordingly. Handling them effectively is a matter of soft skills, and this MBA didn’t possess those skills. I prefer to hire graduates from your school, because they generally do have those skills, and I can give them the in-depth training in finance that they need to do the job. This is infinitely better than the other way round. How can you ‘train’ a young man or woman in these soft skills? How can you ‘train’ them to have the right attitude?” 

Those are indeed the questions of the hour! 

The success of a hospitality enterprise does not depend on the classification of the property but on the quality of its people. For example, General Managers with long experience and a high degree of empathy demonstrate an attitude in front of their guests that is not only right for the occasion, but is actually memorable. At EHL we have given this special attitude a name: “Hospitude”. 

What are the soft skills and other components of hospitude? How can we explain, “tangibilize”, and reproduce these primary elements determining the success of a hotelier? To do so, we enter into the world of Emotional and Social Intelligence. 

In his book “Emotional Intelligence” (1996), Goleman said: “As we all know from experience, when it comes to shaping our decisions and our actions, feelings count every bit as much – and often more – than thought. We have gone too far in emphasizing the value and import of the purely rational – of what IQ measures – in human life. Intelligence can come to nothing when the emotions hold sway.” 

Affective science is the scientific study of emotion or affect, the nature of feeling, emotionally driven behavior, decision making, attention and self-regulation. This includes the study of emotional experience and the recognition of emotions in others.  

Affective hospitality provides the tools to transform the client into a guest and the guest into a brand ambassador. It is a complete reengineering of the classical hospitality relation between the host and the guest. It is also a way to analyze the company’s brand equity – which today represents perhaps the most important asset of a hotel chain. Last but not least, the concepts underpinning affective hospitality provide indicators that can help us design the hospitality of the Future.  



Professor, Ray F. Iunius, WEG CEO 




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