Party Professor – July 2023


Are You a Salesperson or a Reservationist?

Beth Standlee 0319

Beth Standlee

By Beth Standlee, CEO, TrainerTainment

In my book, People Buy From People: How to Personally Connect in an Impersonal World, I emphasize the significance of personal connections in a technology-driven era. I’ve been thinking a lot about the fact that I launched the book in 2019 and in 10 short months the world was forced to socially disconnect due to a pandemic.

Virtual connection is not all bad. Good marketing, social media reach, email and even snail mail can be precursors to real connection. However, what I want to do in this article is explore the various ways to establish genuine connection with each other.

The word of the day is “frictionless” and in our “better, faster, cheaper” way of doing business we keep working on ways to have contact-free, disconnected guest service. I’m going to keep pushing – or maybe nudging – us back to the reality that we still need personal connection. This is not a concept created by Beth Standlee but rather one of the basic human needs from psychologist Abraham Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. With a bit of modern adaptation, Nicole Gravagna, PhD Neuroscientist, President of NeuroEQ, wrote on Quora:

“Adults require connection (physical or emotional) with other humans to release certain hormones like oxytocin. Human touch is so important that when we are young, our brains don’t develop correctly without it. Regular connection to others allows us to maintain a sense of well-being that allows for self-care.”

By embracing practices such as being physically present, showing curiosity, finding common ground and maintaining authenticity, we can foster meaningful relationships that lead to successful business and personal interactions. Guest service team members can benefit from this information and I hope you’ll use it in your next team training effort.

1. Be Physically Present:

In a world dominated by virtual communication, being physically present carries a unique power. Meeting someone face-to-face allows for deeper connection. Being with someone has a broader sensory impact on the relationship. So much of what we say comes not from words but rather body language, eye contact and overall energy level. A sense of comfort, trust and rapport can be built more quickly in person. When a team member says hello first to a guest, it sets the stage for a sense of welcome and service, as well as a good, or even great, experience.

2. Cultivate Curiosity:

Curiosity can be key to unlocking meaningful conversations and establishing connections. Sincere interest in others creates an environment where people feel valued and understood. Ask open-ended questions, actively listen and engage in discussions that go beyond superficial small talk. Demonstrating curiosity not only helps you learn more about the other person but also allows you to find common ground and establish shared interests. A simple question like, “How long can you stay and play today?” can help a team member have the right information to sell the best package to a guest and their family.

3. Seek Common Ground:

Finding common ground is an effective way to establish an instant connection with others. It’s easy to use “fun” as the shared foundation with the guest. Your team member might ask: “Are you all having a good time?”; “Have you been here before?” or “Isn’t that pizza good?!” When you can relate to someone on a personal level, it creates a sense of camaraderie and mutual understanding. With that in mind, you might say, “Virtual Rabbids is my favorite game!” or “I think the pineapple pizza is sooooo good!” By highlighting these shared “fun moments” early on, you create a positive framework for building a lasting connection with a guest.

4. Genuine Help & Support:

When reaching out to others, approach guests with the genuine intention to help and support them. I believe great selling is about helping others. Focus on providing value rather than solely aiming for personal gain. By demonstrating a willingness to go the extra mile to help a guest without expecting anything in return, you build trust and credibility. This authentic approach fosters a sense of reciprocity, encouraging others to be more open to forming a connection with you.

5. Alignment & Congruence:

Authenticity is crucial in establishing personal connections. It’s essential to align your words and actions, allowing others to perceive you as genuine and trustworthy. Avoid the temptation to “fake it till you make it.” Instead, embrace your true self, as people can easily sense if you are being disingenuous. By being congruent, you build credibility and credibility fosters stronger connections.

6. The Power of Listening:

Listening is a fundamental skill that plays a pivotal role in building personal connections. Remember the adage that we have two ears and one mouth for a reason – listen twice as much as you speak. Active listening shows respect, empathy and a genuine interest in what others have to say. It allows you to understand their perspectives, needs, and desires, thus enabling you to tailor your approach and offerings accordingly. This is a strategy that can really help when dealing with a difficult guest.

7. Building Trust & Engage­ment:

Engagement and trust are critical components of successful business relationships. By exuding confidence and enthusiasm, you create an environment that encourages engagement and establishes a positive emotional connection. Remember that people want to buy from their friends, and your ability to create comfort and trust can significantly influence their decision-making process.

In thinking about what’s next in an increasingly impersonal world, I believe the power of personal connections is more important than ever. I know we must find “frictionless” ways to manage labor and deliver a guest experience that helps us maintain a competitive edge. But please remember that in this experience economy, the way we make others feel can make all the difference in whether or not a guest visits one time or for a lifetime!


Beth is the CEO of TrainerTainment LLC, a training company devoted to the family entertainment and hospitality industries. Beth and her team are focused on helping the companies they serve to make more money through sales, guest service, leadership and social media marketing training. Training products and services are delivered in person, through books and DVDs, and virtually with e-learning courses, webinar development and 24/7 online access. Visit her company’s website at



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