Over the last two weeks I’ve been lucky enough to have some time away with my family in Singapore and Indonesia. With our 3rd child arriving in early July it was our babymoon and a last chance to get away with our two little guys for a bit.
The bulk of our time was spent on Bintan Island (Indonesia) where we stayed at Club Med Bintan (note: the pics in this post are all iPhone shots I took at the resort over the week) – a resort which had been recommended by a couple of friends.
I’ve never been to a resort quite like this one before. We usually try to get a self contained apartment in the locations we visit which we can do day trips from – but with ‘V’ (my wife) pregnant and with two active little boys we thought we’d go for an all included option like Club Med which also had a kids club and plenty of activities on site so that we didn’t have to travel once there.
While I was at the resort to relax and do anything but blog – my mind (as usual) did stray a little from the task at hand and I began to think about what I could learn from the experience on Bintan Island that I could apply to my blogging.
A couple of things stood out – one of which I want to explore today:
A Culture of Welcome
As we were bused down the front drive of the resort the first thing we saw was 10 Club Med Staff in front of the lobby clothed in bright T-shirts waving at us. They knew we were coming and a welcome party was out to great us (and our fellow guests).
As we were helped off the bus (while the resort’s theme song played and staff clapped) we were then ushered into the lobby where we were given cold towels and a cup of tea to drink while the manager of the resort welcomed us and told us what to expect over the coming week. Her welcome speech was interrupted only by the staff around her breaking into applause and cheering at numerous points.
OK – so it was slightly cheesy and over the top – but right from the very first moment it was clear that we’d been noticed and were being valued and integrated into the resort.
This continued for the coming 7 days that we were guests. It started with a personal tour of the resort and continued every time we walked past one of the many staff in the resort – on every single occasion they greeted us with a ‘good morning’, ‘good afternoon’ or ‘good evening’ and on many occasions they engaged us (particularly our children) in conversation.
Staff joined us for meals, they went out of their way to learn our kids names and integrate them into the children’s programs and at the end of the week a ‘farewell’ party again gathered to make sure we and our luggage found our way onto the bus and were thanked for staying (and our kids were given personal certificates for graduating kids club).
Our last view of the resort was 10 or so brightly clothed staff standing in front of the lobby waving until our Bus turned a corner off the driveway.
I’ll be honest and say at first I found the personal attention a little over the top (I’m an introvert and went expecting some ‘cave time’) but what I noticed over the week was that the intentional welcomes and attention that staff gave seemed to ‘infect’ those who were staying there. I’ve never been to a hotel or resort where guests interacted as much or where the ‘vibe’ of the place was so positive.
The experience was in stark contrast to our last hotel in Singapore (one which we paid more per night than the resort in Bintan) where there was a real absence of any kind of personal attention, where check in took half an hour and where we spent half our time on the phone to reception trying to rectify mistakes with our booking.
As bloggers – what can we learn from this culture of welcome?
People don’t go online simply get information any more – they want to belong. I discovered this early in my own blogging (in fact it’s part of what attracted me to the medium) so the more you can do to welcome and integrate people into the community of your blog and into relationship with you the better.
While it’s not possible to greet every single new reader at the door in a bright T-shirt with a wave – there are ways to make sure people feel noticed and welcomed when they arrive.
- Writing in a personal tone about real problems and issues that your readers face
- Inviting comments in your posts
- Using ‘Gravatars’ in your comments so people have the opportunity to see their own face on your blog when they do interact
- Responding to comment
- Inviting readers to contribute with guest posts
- Interacting with readers in a personal way on Twitter, Facebook, Ustream or other social media
The list could go on.
This is all particularly important in the early days of a blog. When YOU yourself take the lead in this community building/welcoming what then happens is that your readers begin to pick up on it and interact on the same way.
YOU have the opportunity to ‘infect’ your blog’s readers with a culture of inclusiveness and welcome. What happens when you do this is that you start to see readers taking initiative in welcoming other readers and creating community on your blog.
How do You Create a Culture of Welcome on Your Blog
By no means do I feel like I’m the best at creating this culture of welcome on my blogs. I try but if there’s an area that I constantly feel I could do more in it’s this.
The challenge with growing a blog past the early stages is to find ways to give that personal attention to larger numbers of people.
So I’d love to hear how others do it? How do YOU build a culture of welcome on your blogs (big and small)? I’m keen to learn from you!