Do you believe in love at first sight? No? Well I am a true believer — at least in the context of business. It’s that first magic moment: the chemistry is either there or it isn’t. This can be true for people and places. There are places where you feel at home and places you can’t wait to leave. The first impression can make all the difference. While you might not have much control over that first moment in your personal life, in the context of business, you have the unique opportunity to carefully craft a perfect first impression and influence the experience of your guests and customers with service and customer orientation. I have that “love-at-first-sight-feeling” when I feel welcome and well taken care of,  whether it’s at an event, or in a certain place. But feeling this way, especially in a new or unfamiliar place, is not a given.

Imagine that you’ve been invited to a reception for the opening of a hotel or shop, or to a vernissage at an art gallery. You’re alone, your friend is running late and won’t be able to join you for a while. You don’t know anyone there and suddenly, you find yourself in the middle of a room, with all eyes on you. This reminds me of that scene in “Pretty Woman,” where Julia Roberts enters an expensive shop and the shop assistants give her dirty looks and refuse to serve her. In situations like this, most people just wish they could sink into the ground and disappear. But what if, when you walked in, a security officer welcomed you with a smile, the lady at the coat check  approached you with a friendly greeting, and a charming waiter offered you a free drink? This would probably put you more at ease. The initial tension melts away and you feel welcome, appreciated and comfortable.

In general, event planning tends to revolve around setting the perfect dinner menu, finding the right music, and, above all, choosing a spectacular venue. For the opening of a new shop, the emphasis will be on the design, lighting, the scent, and many other things. However, what will really stick with your guests won’t be the pretty decorations, but will first and foremost be the experiences they share with the people, the hosts, they meet there. So, let’s do things differently! A warm “Welcome!”, a handshake, a friendly person who gives me a hand with my coat or surprises my with a little gift at the end of an event – these are the tiny gestures which make me leave the shop, the appointment, the event with a smile. And it’s that smile that we want our guests and customers to remember. Approaching someone with a smile forms a brief emotional connection and conveys them the feeling of hospitality. And these positive feelings (maybe even that “love-at-first-sight-feeling”?) can have a real impact on the customer experience and their associations with your company, brand, or event.