One of the most important traits I have learned when dealing with guests is that remembering their name separates you from the rest. This simple task of remembering a guest’s name will help you stand out as someone with excellent memory skills but also someone who cares about them. This is an invaluable skill that you can use well beyond the hotel. We will first cover how memory is encoded, stored, and retrieved. Then we will get into how you can improve your memory to enhance those pieces.
HOW MEMORY WORKS
So let us talk about how memory works. The way information is stored in your brain follows three simple steps: encoding, storage, and retrieval. We will talk about the different aspects and what they entail.
Encoding uses three aspects: visual, acoustic, semantic. This means we are receiving information through a picture, sound, or a feeling. Imagine you wanted to remember a person’s number at the bar. You ask them to write it down. The piece of paper holding their number is the visual encoding. You repeating the number out loud is acoustic. The final encoding is tying the feeling to something in your past. Maybe how the number looks like a song you love or an old phone number you had. This gives it meaning.
Storage is done in either sensory memory, short term memory, or long-term memory. Sensory memory is the shortest term memory received by the 5 senses: sight, smell, hearing, hearing, and touch. Sensory memory is usually received, stored, and decayed in seconds. The sensory memory could also be transferred to short or long term memory.
Short term memory is similar to a scratch pad that gets thrown away. This scratch pad is small and can’t take in every aspect but you can jot down important pieces. In short-term memory, “chunking” can be used to group similar items. An example could be seen in a phone number divided into hyphenated sections could be easier to remember than a single string of numbers. Short term memories take minutes to leave the mind and only through conscious efforts is it retained. If these efforts continue short term memory can be evolved into long-term memories.
Long term memories decay very little with time and can be easier to retrieve. Storage of long-term memories is quite long lasting. They only suffer when the strength in the neural network is weakened or it is superimposed by new neural network causing disruption. This disruption leads to memory loss.
Memory can be retrieved through recall or recognition. The recall is when you are remembering something you have never physically seen. It is a two-step process that first starts with remembering something and then bringing up the relevant information.
Recognition is considered superior to recall in that it is a single step process. This requires a simple familiarity decision. Recognition means you have physically been able to see or feel something and are able to retrieve the information instantly.
How to Remember Guest’s Names
Proper listening skills will help you fully understand what the person is saying to you. You need to be able to put forth full attention when introducing yourself. If you know how conversations work you know they are sending an encoded message and it is your duty to decode it and reply. A good tip to make sure you understood what they are saying is to repeat back to them your interpretation. This will help you better help the guest but also be a good way to repeat their name.
Memory is easier when you tie things together. Joshua Foer, a U.S. Memory Champion, suggests thinking in grandiose and relatable terms. Grandiose to help with the visualization piece but relatable so they hit memory pieces that are already stored and easily accessible. This is a way to achieve the “chunking” mentioned in the short-term memory above. Asking the guest for stories of their trip or where they are from are great tools to create more analogies.
Dr. Gary Small, a psychologist and UCLA professor working on Brain Bootcamp, suggests spelling it out. Simply visualizing the letters in your head as they are saying them is a good memory trick. Visualization is an overarching piece of memory. This will be able to help you imprint one of the sensory stimuli to your memory giving it life. Sounds and smell are other powerful sensory stimuli you can use to imprint memories for retrieval. Another good way to visualize is to cartoon them in your head. This can really help you tag their name to the cartoon character you created.
Using these three tricks you can remember the names of your guests. You won’t have to play the “Guess my name” game and guess wrong. Your guests will appreciate it and you will have a valuable skill to perfect. Have you ever gone to a hotel where they remembered your name? How did that make you feel? Let us know in the comments below.