5 Inexpensive Ways to Elevate Your Hotel Guest Experience
by Kim Richardson
With all the different amenities today’s travelers are looking for, you’re not going to be able to accommodate all of them.
It’s no secret: Happy hotel guests make for happy employees and happy owners. They’re the true advertisement for our hotel and resort locations.
But as the maxim goes, you can’t make all the people happy all the time. With very exceptions—brands that can afford to embody the money-no-object version of unreasonable hospitality—it’s not realistic to think you can satisfy every guest’s every whim.
With all the different amenities today’s travelers are looking for, you’re not going to be able to accommodate every single preference. Some of them may not be in your budget, and others may not make sense for your business.
With that in mind, here are some basic items that every hotel location can provide with little to no cost.
Get back to the basics of your business and make sure the machine is running smoothly before you worry about adding things that cost you additional money. A little goes a long way!
1 Create a seamless and friendly arrival experience.
Whether your guests spend days traveling to you or maybe just take a 10-minute car ride, it’s important that their stay starts off with a warm and welcoming experience. This sets the tone for their entire stay.
How does your staff greet them at the door and front desk? Are the details of the reservation correct? Is the room ready on time? Is the room the correct type? Do you and your team acknowledge special details and requests? More importantly, do you follow through to deliver on those requests?
People put a lot of time into planning a trip. A rocky arrival or a mishandled request can really put a damper on someone’s getaway whether it’s for business or pleasure. When they start off with a bad experience, they’re more likely to nitpick the rest of their stay.
The guest experience starts well before arrival. Don’t forget to keep in mind all the interactions they have prior to arrival: ease of reservation process, user-friendly websites, and pleasant interactions with any staff they might have.
2 Personalize the experience. Send a welcome note and acknowledge special occasions.
Sending a welcome note to a guest is a great way to personalize the experience, and I do mean personalize! Try to stay away from generic welcome letters.
Use their name in the letter. If they’re a repeat guest, use phrases such as “Welcome back.” If you see something in the reservation notes about them celebrating a special occasion, be sure to acknowledge it in the welcome note and wish them well.
Welcome notes can be sent as an email, something that is handed to them at the front desk, or a card in their room. Consider sending a small gift when you know someone is celebrating a special occasion. The gift doesn’t have to be expensive; its purpose is to make them feel noticed.
A small treat can be enough.
3 Partner with companies for amenities you are not able to provide (ex: gym, restaurants, transportation, spa/salon).
Partnering with nearby companies is a great way to add extra amenities to your hotel. This doesn’t have to be something that costs you money.
You can discuss the terms case by case with each business. They may be willing to offer a discount coupon (complimentary to you) for allowing them to put collateral in your lobby or on your website. You can also discuss trades of service.
If you’re not a full-service hotel, a discount at a nearby restaurant or cafe can go a long way. Similar to this, if you don’t have a fitness center maybe there is one nearby that is willing to offer your guests complimentary access (or for a discount). Spa/salons are also a great amenity you can feature.
If you’re not located in a walkable area (or maybe there’s a big attraction nearby that’s not walkable), consider teaming up with a transportation company that can be available to your guests.
When partnering with these nearby businesses, it’s important that they actually are nearby and accessible to your guests. We’ve all been in situations, be it a hotel or a membership, that comes with discounts, but then when you go to look at them, they’re not convenient to use. Don’t be that business.
4 Master the basics. Keep a clean property and deliver on all amenities promised.
This sounds like an obvious one, but this is often where we drop the ball as an industry.
It’s not always about being a five-star hotel and having tons of luxurious extras. Meeting guest expectations by following through on what you promised should be a given, but it’s truly not.
Regardless of the level of hotel, a clean property is important. Guests shouldn’t find dirty items from the last guest. All public spaces should be clean and stocked with any amenities you offer.
If you offer complimentary coffee in the lobby until 10:00 AM, make sure it’s really there and available until that time. Don’t put the last container out at 9:00 or 9:30 AM and stop checking on it.
I’m the guest who goes down for coffee at the last minute it’s available. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve started filling my cup and heard the trickle of the container running out. Then I’m left with going to find coffee elsewhere or hunting down a staff member to get more.
These types of experiences might not warrant a guest complaint but they do create a feeling of not getting what they pay for.
Keep your guests notified of any unexpected changes to the promised amenities. If your lobby is under renovation, your famous restaurant is closed for a private party, or the pool isn’t available, send proper notification to your guests prior to arrival. Consider offering some type of compensation as a show of good faith prior to the complaints rolling in.
Things don’t always go according to plan, and we can’t always be perfect, but you have the power to dictate whether this is a good or bad experience for your guest.
5 Provide readily available directions and info on the local area (restaurants, local attractions, tours, shopping).
No matter how hard your guests work on researching the area ahead of time, there is nothing better than hearing from the locals about the real places to check out.
Be sure to have a varied list of places to recommend to the guests based on their specific interests. As our travelers often are without a car, make sure you’re able to tell them the best way to get there.
Any additional information you can provide on these places is great. Consider having brochures on hand, websites, apps, and QR codes. Consider compiling a list of your staff’s favorite places to go. This can be posted in a public space, done as a handout that can be given to guests upon request, or distributed electronically.
As you can see, you don’t have to throw tons of money at your hotel to make a big, positive impact on your guests. Thinking ahead, partnering with local businesses, and ensuring your staff adheres to your steps of service, policies, and procedures can deliver big dividends.
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