Deepak Ohri, Chief Happiness Officer, on bringing happiness to guests and staff in luxury hospitality

Deepak Ohri

The happiness issue: Happiness is an experience through which you can only connect dots looking backwards, says Deepak Ohri, Chief Happiness Officer at LAMH.

Deepak Ohri is the founder and CEO of Luxury Atelier Maison Happiness (LAMH), a California-based company specializing in luxury experiences and branding where he also holds the title of Chief Happiness Officer. Previously, he served as the CEO and Chief Happiness Officer of Lebua Hotels, which, under his leadership, was named the World’s Leading All-Suite Hotel by the World Travel Awards in 2022, while Ohri was also recognized as the “World’s Leading Happiness Ambassador” by the same organization.

An expert in leadership and luxury hospitality, Deepak Ohri has lectured at prestigious business and management schools and serves on several boards, including the Advisory Board of the World Happiness Foundation.

Given that success in luxury hospitality hinges on maximizing guest happiness, it seemed fitting to ask Deepak Ohri about his insights on bringing happiness to both guests and staff in the industry. Here’s what he had to say, in his own words:

What is happiness?

Happiness is not an expertise; it is an experience. People go to many different venues for happiness but you can never connect the dots moving forward. You only connect dots when you look backwards.  

Happiness is directly proportional to your purpose. A person can lose their job, and have nothing to do, and still be a very happy person if they have found the purpose in life. When you realize your purpose in your life, when you love what you’re doing, and when you actually know what you love, that is where you gain your happiness. Happiness relates to confidence, motivation, and all those tools that come along with that knowledge of your purpose. 

It doesn’t just come. You have to work for it.

You have to practice and you have to believe in yourself. The first time you’re trying to do something, you don’t know whether you’re going to reach your destination or not. Then when you look back, you can see how one thing leads to the other and that leads to the other – and how you reached your destination, but you can’t know that in advance.

 Now, let’s relate that to the corporate world. Because happiness is very individual, how do you give happiness to people in a collective form? In an organization, you give them a purpose. In an organization, when people have a purpose, there is a lot of happiness. They can say “I’m doing this for me and I’m doing this for the world.” This gives transparency to the organization as well as motivating people. And when they find purpose, they are in the line to find happiness.

How do you give guests a purpose? 

To provide your guests with a purpose, you give them an experience. The guest will never remember the chandelier or how many expensive things you put in the room. They will always remember the experience. On a recent trip to London, I checked into a new luxury hotel very early in the morning and the hotel manager was in the lobby to greet me with a cappuccino. I love drinking cappuccinos! I was craving that and thinking that I’ll get to the hotel, go check in, then come down and get a cappuccino because you can’t make cappuccino in your rooms. And it was already there.

This hotel wasn’t even open yet. They had just done a soft opening and it’s already full. There’s a waiting list and they are doing the best average room rate in the city. And I’m not surprised. At every point in time, they were doing small things for every person, not only me.

Personalization and anticipating people’s needs is important. But first you need to create a customer experience and then add the technology to it. You don’t add technology and then add the customer experience. You’re going to do both of these things but it is very important to know what to do first and what to do second. So, you’re going to use technology to note guest preferences and maybe look at their social media to see what they enjoy, and keep track of their purchases and preferences after check-in, so that everyone onsite is aware of what each customer likes, but you need a solid foundation first. 

A happy team is a foundation

You can’t do any of these things if you don’t have great people who are motivated and who have found their purpose. If you fail to give that purpose, you may be the best organization but they won’t be happy working for you. They’re working for you for money or for the brand name and you will be facing problems and won’t be able to figure out why.

To give your employees a purpose, first, you create your brand architecture and know what you want to give to the customer. Then you ask “how do I find people who can help in giving that?” And you choose people based on that idea.

Design of service processes

We design the service process in such a way that you touch it at every point. You have to take care of the beginning, the middle, and the end. That’s why the satisfaction rate in cruise lines is the highest in the service industry, because when you embark, there’s champagne, when you disembark, there’s a captain’s dinner, and in between, there are all kinds of activities and touchpoints.

We should prioritize happiness in every aspect of luxury hospitality. It’s about fostering an environment where purpose is paramount and individual needs are anticipated. Happiness isn’t just an end goal; it’s a journey that requires dedication and a deep understanding of human connections.


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