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Recognizing that face. Remembering that name. Critical to your success.

Review of Article By Victoria Martinez, 08/31/2020


Summary

“Face Recognition and Name Recall: Training Implications for the Hospitality Industry” by Vincent P. Magnini and Earl D. Honeycutt Jr. discusses how using mnemonic techniques for name recollection when training employees and managers can eventually lead to an increase in the overall satisfaction of guests. Psychological research was applied to face recognition and name recall, and several training implications were formed to assist hospitality organizations. There are a few nuances in face recognition and recognizing other objects. Recognizing objects occurs when an object that is seen is compared to pictures in one’s mind. The article discusses that the skill of face recognition begins to develop during infancy, and although the development slows after adolescence, there is still room for growth and improvement as an adult. Employees in hospitality firms can enhance their ability to recognize faces through specific types of training. Male employees might have more trouble learning names compared to female employees which might be an obstacle. Furthermore, face recognition can become a challenge when trying to remember facial features of someone of another race.

In addition to ameliorating the ability to recognize faces, Magnini and Honeycutt explain in this article the background information and foundation of recalling names. After recognizing the guest’s face and remembering why it is familiar, name recalling is the third step to be successful; however, it is usually more challenging. The article states that researchers suggest using mnemonic imaging techniques to make this task less challenging. These techniques are used by associating a word with an image, and they are reliable to use and lead to quicker learning. There are three main mnemonic techniques that can be used in training to create vivid imagery and mental images in the employees’ minds.

Importance

The importance of implementing a training program for face recognition and name recall is to widen the possibility for relationship conversion. The ultimate goal is to convert pseudorelationships between employees and customers to true relationships. This creates loyalty between the company and guest because the guest builds a level of trust, and they are more highly satisfied, therefore, bringing in more profit. A guest entering a full-service hotel (my targeting career path) typically has the first full conversation with the front desk agent. When visiting the front desk multiple times throughout one’s visit, the guest will feel more sophisticated, comfortable, and respected if the agent remembers their name. Additionally, hostesses in restaurants should repeat the name of the guest when seating them at their table because it makes the overall experience more personal; it is more likely for the guests to be more satisfied with the overall experience and become a loyal customer. With their positive experience, there may be a quicker spread of word-of-mouth. All in all, face recognition and name recall can bring in more profit to the company and be used to further marketing.

Methods

To further develop the skill of recognizing faces and recalling names, the article explains specific methods and techniques that should be implemented to be successful. Face recognition works best when the employee focuses on the guest’s face and one facial feature is exaggerated. Internal facial features should be remembered such as the nose, eyes, and mouth; external features consist of the jaw, hairline, and ears. In the same way many caricature artists exaggerate and put an emphasis on one area of the face in their drawing, employees should do the same when focusing on a facial feature to remember. During the training, the article suggests to be aware of how men might have global tendencies - which means they look at the overall face - and those should be overcome; on the other hand, females are more likely to observe one specific feature.

There are three methods the article expands on when training for name recall; the first detail employees should practice when training is concentration and giving the other person your full attention. Secondly, they should be taught to use one of the three mnemonic techniques. First-letter mnemonics uses the first letter of someone's name and matches it to an action word that begins with the same letter. For instance, Sandy could be singing, and Tim can be talking. The next mnemonic technique is to picture the name of the individual written on their forehead. The last technique that can be used is the key-word method; this includes turning the unfamiliar word (new name) into a familiar word that triggers an image. Then the new mental image created will help one recall names when meeting new customers. For example, the next time the employee meets an “Ashley,” they can recall their name more easily because they remember their volleyball teammate has the same name. Repetition of the name throughout the conversation is another essential tip to develop this skill.

Training Implications

Both face recognition and name recall should be taught together in training because they go hand-in-hand when it comes to recognizing guests. According to the article, “The training initiatives would have the effect of reinforcing the importance of calling guests by name.” Hospitality companies can have internal training by adopting recommendations or including commercially available videos. Outsourcing the training involves searching for other professionals or different firms that already have the training videos. Through relationship conversion, transforming pseudorelationships into true relationships, the company may acquire new loyal customers. Another benefit of implementing training programs for face and name recall is the low cost to begin the training; for instance, no new equipment or free amenities for guestrooms are required for employees to excel in this skill. Surely nothing negative can derive from teaching employees how to recognize faces and recall names!

Magnini, V. P., & Honeycutt, E. D., Jr. (2005). Face Recognition and Name Recall. Cornell Hotel and Restaurant Administration Quarterly, 46(1), 69-78. doi:10.1177/0010880404270881

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