• 02 January 2015 | Caroline Smith

Welcome, willkommen, bienvenue, aloha, benvenuti, karibu, ngiyanemukela

However we say it, it means the same thing: you are gladly received, your arrival gives us pleasure.

First impressions count, and the way you welcome your guests goes a long way towards making their stay in our country a good one.

So, remember:

W is for warmth

E is for eye contact

L is for love

C is for caring

O is for open

M is for marvellous

E is for excellence


To make your guests feel welcome, greet them warmly. They are excited to be there and you should make them feel that you are excited to see them.

Smile, introduce yourself, call them by name and say something like ‘Welcome, we’re pleased to see you.’

Eye contact

People like to be able to see your eyes – it’s one of the ways in which we judge the sincerity of greetings. There is an old saying that ‘eyes are the window to the soul‘. So make sure to take the time and trouble to look your guests in the eyes, showing them that you are pleased to see them and that they will enjoy their time with you.

Remember, though, that in some countries, it can be disrespectful to look someone in the eyes if they are more powerful than you.


Share the love you have for South Africa and for your job with your guests – it will make them feel excited and pleased to be here. Let the love shine through in your voice and your actions.


Be open and honest with your guests. If there is a small problem, don’t try to hide it; rather share it, and ask them to be patient while you sort it out.

Most guests are happier to be kept informed, and like to know what’s going on. Sharing and being open can go a long way towards smoothing over any little difficulties that those of us in the tourist trade know can happen, no matter how excellent your forward planning is.


Make your guests know that they are going to have an absolutely marvellous time. We live in a marvellous country, you have a marvellous establishment, and they are going to have a marvellous holiday.

Certainly, judging from the welcome you are giving them, it’s going to be fantastic.


This is both an ambition and a goal. Striving for excellence will assist you in achieving it, and when you reach excellence, you will have happy guests. And happy guests make your life much easier – keep them happy to keep your life good.

So, remember the acronym for welcome each and every time you have a new encounter with guests, and you will ensure a fantastic holiday for them and smooth sailing for you.