Small Things Hoteliers Can Do that Make a Big Difference to Guests

Customer satisfaction is a top priority for any business, but for those in the hospitality industry it’s the entire purpose. Most hoteliers do what they do because they are passionate about making every guest’s stay special. And what makes anyone feel special? Simply feeling valued. From a warm greeting to a good cup of coffee, the smallest things can make a big difference to your guests, elevating an average stay to a memorable experience that will help earn their loyalty.

We all get busy and distracted from the main goal from time to time, so read on to make sure you are doing these small things all lodging operators should be doing to make a lasting impression on guests.

Remember Your Manners

In a world of chatbots and mobile check-in, good “old-fashioned” hospitality is still so important. All staff should be encouraged to be courteous hosts, getting the door for guests and helping with their bags, greeting guests with a genuine smile at every interaction, and using guests’ names whenever possible. Such courtesies are expected at luxury hotels, but should be a part of the service at any property—after all, what is hospitality without good manners?

Get to Know Your Guests

Being a good listener is an important skill for getting to know someone in any relationship. Hospitality professionals especially tend to have very well-trained ears for garnering information during interactions with guests that will help them personalize service. Pay attention to your guests’ preferences when it comes to menu items, amenities, activities, room preferences, etc., and special dates like birthdays and anniversaries, then record relevant data in guest profiles to help staff tailor guests’ stays and anticipate their needs.

Show Appreciation

Showing your customers in a tangible way that you appreciate them—for example, with a little gift or note—is always well received. Such small tokens of appreciation surprise and delight guests and make them feel extra special.

Even a simple, personalized note left in the guest’s room, welcoming them to the property upon their arrival, is a thoughtful touch that will make them feel appreciated and invite them to reach out should they need anything. If finances allow for including a small welcome gift as well, even better! From locally made chocolates, or vouchers for a couple of free drinks at the bar, to small souvenirs, welcome gifts don’t have to cost much—but to be extra memorable, try to choose them to reflect the personality of your property. Gifts for returning customers can even be tailored especially for them, based on profile data.

Offer Free Amenities That Matter

According to various surveys, free WiFi is considered one of the most important amenities to travelers when choosing accommodation. And lots of travelers get excited about free breakfast. We all love to get freebies, but only if they are of value to us. For example, if you choose to offer free WiFi (and you really should), make sure it’s good and fast. Slow, unreliable internet access will only frustrate guests and result in negative reviews, even if it’s complimentary.

When it comes to choosing amenities to offer your guests for free, pick those that are popular at your property to ensure they add value to the guest experience. In addition to WiFi, in-room tea and coffee should always be included, and filtered water is always appreciated (think about using a dispenser or refrigerated pitcher, not plastic bottles). Free use of cellphone chargers and universal adapters is another convenient amenity that will save the day for many guests.

If you’re worried about the financial implications of offering certain amenities for free, consider slightly increasing room prices; it’s better to raise rates by a few dollars than charge for staple amenities. And make sure to promote free amenities on your website.

Be Inclusive

Traveling can be stressful at times for anyone, but especially for travelers with disabilities and specific needs, from alternative dietary options to amenities for young children. Even small efforts to be inclusive can make a really big difference to some of your guests.

Providing simple gluten-free and vegan options at the breakfast bar and on menus, and adding ingredient lists and allergen warnings to menu options will be much appreciated by guests with food allergies and intolerances. Travelers with young children will always be grateful for diaper-changing facilities, use of playpens and highchairs, kids’ activity packs, and family-friendly local recommendations. Thinking about the placement of furniture and amenities so that people using wheelchairs and walking aids have space to move around easily and being ready with local recommendations that are wheelchair accessible, will make the traveling experience much easier and more enjoyable for guests with mobility issues.

Share Your Local Expertise

A quick online search will show your guests the main attractions in town, but what really makes a stay special are the authentic local experiences they won’t find in the travel guides. Let your guests know about the local gems in your neighborhood, and tips for enjoying main attractions as the locals do, like best times to visit, cheapest tickets, best places to park, best places to eat, etc. It’s the pleasantly unexpected local experiences that make for a truly memorable trip.

Share your local expertise in person, on your website/app, and within in-room information as well.

Be Responsive and Available

Finally, make sure you deal with complaints and requests immediately and diplomatically. Even the most seemingly petty complaint can make a big difference to a guest’s experience. Addressing and resolving complaints and requests quickly shows guests you care and makes them feel valued. Your property management system should help you keep track of guest requests, and free up your staff’s time to be available for guests.

Showing your guests they matter doesn’t require a big budget, just some good old-fashioned hospitality. Even simple efforts to make guests feel welcome can help create a memorable experience that will bring them back for more.

Hotel Amenities: What Today’s Guests Look For When Booking Accommodation

To win the business and loyalty of guests, hoteliers have always needed to offer more than a simple place to sleep. Whether it was valet parking, room service, or an on-site spa, hotels relied on extra amenities to appeal to customers. And that hasn’t changed. In fact, now that people can find and compare accommodation so easily on the internet, guests are more discerning than ever. You need to provide quality features and services if you want to stand out from the competition and give customers a reason to return.

Just like guest expectations for communication and decor have changed over the years, their expectations for amenities have evolved as well. Here are a few things guests are looking for today:

Free WiFi

When it comes to booking accommodation, the most sought-after amenity is free, high-speed internet. Today’s travelers are incredibly reliant on their phones (and other mobile devices) to research activities, plan itineraries, and keep in touch with friends and family. If you don’t offer complimentary WiFi, guests will likely keep looking for a property that does.

Complimentary breakfast

Whether it’s a traveler on business or a family on vacation, people like the comfort of knowing the first meal of the day is taken care of. So consider offering complimentary breakfast for your guests. It won’t go unappreciated; After WiFi, free breakfast is ranked the second most important amenity by travelers.

Luxury in-room essentials

It’s the little details that make a guest’s stay feel luxurious.  When it comes to in-room amenities, that means ensuring things like linens and toiletries are of the highest quality. Swap out polyester sheets for high-thread-count cotton, and equip rooms with soft, over-sized bath towels. When stocking the bathroom, choose high-end hair products and artisanal soaps. Your guests will leave feeling pampered and excited to return.

Mini-fridge

Mini-bars are on their way out. They’re expensive to monitor and maintain, and often go unused by guests. Many hotels are opting to equip rooms with an empty mini-fridge instead. Hotelier’s don’t have to worry about stocking or tracking the use, and guests can bring in snacks and beverages they’ve purchased elsewhere. It’s a solution that makes everyone a winner.

Flexible food options

Like mini-fridges, room-service is being reconsidered by many hoteliers. In its stead, some properties are opting to provide grab-and-go food options in their lobby, giving guests the flexibility and convenience they desire. They can pick up a burrito on their way out the door, or take a salad back to their room to enjoy in comfort. And as an added bonus, this cafeteria-style approach minimizes costs for you.

Streaming services

In-room entertainment is still a big priority for travelers. Guests want access to TV facilities (especially millennials), but pay-per-view movies aren’t going to cut it anymore. Most guests have a subscription to one streaming platform or another, and they want to continue watching their favorite television shows while traveling. Consider installing smart TVs that allow guests to connect their devices and access their own content.

Shared spaces

A recent trend that we’ve blogged about before is the millennial-led demand for shared-living spaces. Travelers today are prioritizing experiences and looking to socialize. Creating versatile spaces where guests can work, read a book, and mingle, will help foster the environment this new generation of travelers is seeking.

Amenities matter. They’re what elevate the customer experience from good to excellent. Make sure you’re doing everything you can to win your customers’ bookings and earn their loyalty.

Repackaging Hotel Packages

Every hotelier ponders how to increase revenue. Whether you’re looking to increase midweek bookings, improve off season reservations, increase your ADR, or avoid offering discounts, the advice you’ll find time and again is: Create Value-Added Packages! So, we thought we’d take the time to explore how to make your hotel’s packages more compelling. Price is one aspect to think about, but it’s not the most important. Potential guests seek value and experience. Most packages include lodging and an activity, but because packages seem to be the answer to the numerous ways hotels seek new and returning clientele, there are many on offer, which means, to the potential customer, they start to all look the same. So, here are some reimagined packages to help spark your creativity.

Make Use of Your Locale

You are the only hotel in your particular space. What makes your location unique? Consider offering an upgrade to your mountain or cityscape view when someone books three or more nights. Who are your neighbours? Collaborate with the restaurant at a winery next door to create a package for an evening of wine and food where they can walk back to your inn via a private lantern lit path, or consider pairing with a local bakery for a morning delivery of fresh croissants. What amenities do you have onsite? Perhaps the chef at your restaurant has started to create buzz or a bartender’s cocktails bring in locals. Don’t just package free appetizers or cocktails with a room, but tell the story of why a potential guest should experience them.

Your city, town, and/or community is also unique. Exploit that. What businesses, services, and experiences are unique to your community? Is there a music venue or comedy club that’s gaining popularity? A so-called restaurant that is rumored to have the best fried chicken? Rotis? Ramen? Poke? Hot dogs? One of the first things a savvy guest will do is ask the hotel staff where to eat and what to see in the city; they’re looking for the inside scoop – the coveted personalized experience – so discuss this with your staff and approach up-and-coming businesses for mutually beneficial collaborations. Packages that highlight local individuality not only offer a unique experience to guests, they also demonstrate that you know and are connected with what’s going on in your community, which is another attractive trait that guests seek.

Also, consider including (and tell potential guests that room rates include) shampoos, soaps, and lotions from a local producer. These can be marketed as features that add value in the eyes of potential customers. You may also want to consider selling these products in your lobby to further boost revenue.

The Wellness Package

The wellness package has been in vogue for many years if not decades, and they continue to be popular. Friends, couples, and solo travelers still enjoy weekend spa getaways or week-long yoga retreats. Whether you’re a larger hotel with amenities onsite or a smaller boutique inn who collaborates with a local yoga studio or spa, it’s also important to highlight the relaxation that your rooms provide through views, beautiful décor, comfort provided by a particular brand of linen and (again) wellness extras like local organic toiletries. These add-ons increase value while augmenting the package you’re offering and the brand you’re portraying.

You may also want to expand your idea of wellness. Increasingly, health and wellness is being associated with what has traditionally been called adventure. Consider including biking, kayaking, or walking tours in your wellness packages. Offer surfing or archery lessons, wall climbing or hiking. Wellness and an active lifestyle go hand in hand, and by combining and marketing activities in unique ways, you can set your hotel’s packages apart.

The Adventure Package

Expand your idea of adventure packages as well. There continues to be a market for getaways that include activities like zip-lining, white water rafting, air balloon rides, and whale watching, but the number of experiences that can now be marketed as “adventures” has grown. Urban adventurers are often looking for culinary escapades. Collaborate with restaurants, markets, food festivals, wineries, breweries, and distilleries to package and promote the culinary expertise of your area.

There’s also an increasing trend towards traveling to gain new skills. Travelers want to learn to cook local delicacies, to make wine, chocolate, and craft beer. Wood-working, photography, cheese-making, gardening, and sustainable farming are other skills that people seek.

Renovation vacations have also gained popularity. The Chateau de Gudanes in southern France offers packages with a variety of charming options, including morning yoga, guided walks to local villages, lessons on cooking traditional French food, horseback riding, walking through the woods to pick flowers, and an opportunity to help with renovations and contribute to the restoration of this historic property. They expertly craft a unique adventure for their guests by making use of their locale, collaborating with their community, and giving guests the opportunity to gain new skills.

The Seasonal Package: Think Winter!

In the past, winter travelers have sought sun and surf or slopes and skis. Not anymore. Winter travel to northern destinations has dramatically increased. Quebec’s Winter Carnival, China’s Harbin International Ice and Snow Sculpture Festival, Norway’s Ice Music Festival, and Japan’s Sapporo Snow Festival have all become major attractions. But even if your northern hotel is not in one of these high-profile locations, you can look for opportunities to create winter traveling packages that include experiences like snowshoeing, snowmobiling, and dog sledding. You may want to think about promoting your area’s ice sculpture competition, pop-up chef event, or ice wine festival to guests who live within a couple hundred miles. The seclusion and silence of the off season can also be attractive to some travelers who are looking for an individual and authentic experience away from the hustle and bustle of the tourist season.

Other Tips

Consider the Modern Traveler. Single parents travel with their children; grandparents travel with the grandkids; and people travel alone. Keep these groups in mind when you’re building and marketing your hotel’s packages. With these groups of travelers on the increase, packages should include options that include and attract them.

Allow Personalized Packages. Individual experience is a top priority for many travelers, so where possible, let your guests choose the components of their packages.

Think Ahead. Don’t wait until the beginning of December to think about what you’ll plan to do to attract guests over the holidays. Plan and promote early, but not too early. Find the appropriate balance between having enough time to create thoughtful packages and being close enough to the date that you can generate excitement.

Offer Exclusive Packages. You may want to consider approaching a bridal or lifestyle magazine or website to promote an exclusive offer to their subscribers. This can be especially effective for new or experimental packages because you can easily track results that will help you build future packages.

Your ability to create and promote unique packages will directly contribute to your hotel’s bottom line. By making use of your unique location, forming good connections within your city or community, and transforming traditional package genres, you can offer the personalized travel that guests seek when they search for new destinations and hotels to explore.

Amenity or Annoyance: How Does Your Hotel Wi-Fi Measure up?

Imagine you are away from work on a business trip. From your hotel room’s work desk, you set up your laptop and log into Skype in order to attend an important conference call. Half-way through the meeting there are delays and eventually your call is dropped – the result of a bad Internet connection. Has this experience happened to you? Your guests?

We recently blogged about the rising expectations of hotel guests, especially Generation Y, a generation increasingly reliant on wireless networks to operate one, two…even five devices that require Internet connections. Guests these days expect hotels and other accommodations to provide reliable wireless, high-speed Internet. How do you measure up?

Why provide Wi-Fi?

Internet access is now a standard amenity guests expect, along with air conditioning and tiny bars of soap. According to this article on lodgingmagazine.com, 34 percent of business travelers will not stay at a hotel without Internet access. And in a survey about guest satisfaction, inefficient Wi-Fi access was the top complaint. Gone are the days of screeching telephone modems; if you are going to offer Internet access, it has to be good and preferably great. Otherwise, it becomes a guest annoyance and not a feature at all.

What kind of Wi-Fi experience are you offering?

When guests choose to stay at a property with Internet access, they assume it is high-speed, wireless and reliable. Do you know how you measure up? If you don’t, chances are hotelwifitest.com does. This website displays the expected speed, maximum speed (bandwidth potential) and confidence (how thoroughly the connection has been tested) of various hotels around the world – as tested by hotel guests through the website. This information is then tweeted to the twittersphere and recorded on the website for visitors who wish to make their accommodation choice based on Internet speed.

Seems far-fetched? Let’s go back to the scenario this blog post started with. If a business traveller can’t conduct business from your property, that’s grounds for moving to another hotel. And if you are losing customers due to poor bandwidth, that’s not a complaint, that’s a revenue loss.

You don’t need to be a major player in order to provide an excellent Wi-Fi experience. In fact, smaller properties have an advantage when it comes to offering reliable high-speed Internet access. According to this article on Skift.com, smaller hotels generally receive higher ratings than larger and fancier hotels who have a bigger area to cover and more users to bog down networks. Whether you are a small or large property, there is always room for improvement, especially with an imminent bandwidth boom just around the corner as more people acquire more devices.

What can you do to improve WiFi performance?

Providing reliable Internet access is no longer a luxury service or a basic service, but an essential service properties must offer their guests. If your property offers the Internet but hasn’t upgraded in the last five years, it’s time. Just think, the iPad didn’t even exist five years ago! In addition to guest device use you may also need to consider in-room entertainment features, such as smart TVs and other advanced entertainment systems.

According to Lodging Magazine’s article on Boosting Hotel Bandwidth, hotels require four times more bandwidth than they did five years ago. Properties should upgrade when they start to reach 80 percent capacity.

So, how do you meet supply and demand? As this technical article on Navigating the Bandwidth Boom notes, it’s not so easy but you don’t have to figure it out alone. They recommend that you partner with a provider that can offer proactive maintenance (software and firmware upgrades) in addition to constant network monitoring.

There are many guest internet providers that cater specifically to hotels and accommodations, offering ongoing technical support and site visits. Do your research to make sure you choose one that meets your property’s specific requirements.