Bizarre Hotel Guest Requests (and How to Handle Them)

From demanding a meal after the kitchen is closed to requesting a room change because the feng shui isn’t quite right, most hotels deal with challenging guest requests on a daily basis. But we bet most requests pale in comparison to the following real-life examples…

We’ve scoured the internet for some truly bizarre guest requests that were actually granted. Read on to find out how far above and beyond some properties will go for their guests—and how your property can too.

Celebrity Requests

Apparently rock star Don Henley has his bed follow him by truck wherever he goes. When staying at the Brown Palace Hotel in Denver, Colorado, he requested that his bed be moved into his hotel room. He then later asked for it to be removed as the hotel bed turned out to be plenty comfortable enough after all. Sure, why not? Moving large beds in and out of hotel rooms is a piece of cake!

You often hear of celebrities complaining about their lack of privacy, but it seems some complain when they get too much of it too. The staff at Tides Inn in Irvington, Virginia, were trying to respect an unnamed celebrity guest’s privacy, but after three days of giving the special guest space and refraining from asking for autographs and photos, they were asked by the guest’s assistant to drum up some fanfare. The hotel’s concierge organized staff into three groups—one to request autographs, one to request photos, and one to learn all they could about the Very Important Person in order to gush about their past roles, award wins and charity involvement. Perhaps it’s really the staff at Tides Inn that deserve an Oscar?

Spanish artist, Salvador Dalí (1904 – 1989) once requested a small herd of sheep be sent to his hotel room at Le Meurice in Paris so he could shoot at them with a pistol filled with blanks. The mind simply boggles.

Requests for Animals

Thankfully not quite as disturbing as shooting at sheep, the following animal requests go way beyond a bowl of water and dog treats.

Twenty pounds of ice was requested for penguins staying at the Seaport Boston. The penguins were traveling as part of the Boston Globe Travel Show—and staying in a hotel room bathtub. Of course.

The concierge team at the Fairmont Copley Plaza, also in Boston, sourced a large egg incubator for a guest’s ostrich egg! At least it might come in handy for other guests traveling with ostrich eggs…

A guest requested the Hotel Plaza Athénée in Paris to find two lion cubs for their daughter’s birthday party. (Miniature ponies are so passé.)

Requests for Special Occasions

It’s not just birthday parties that warrant special attention… Just four hours before her wedding, a bride staying at the Hotel Vintage Park in Seattle asked hotel staff to have her wedding dress dry cleaned as she had only just realized she got it dirty celebrating out on the town the night before. The hotel concierge managed the urgent feat just in time, meeting the bride at the wedding venue with the freshly cleaned dress. Phew!

The concierge team at the Sofitel Chicago Magnificent Mile staged an early Christmas for a couple staying in December, right before the husband shipped out for military service. The wife sent gifts and tree ornaments in advance, and the concierge team set up a real tree in the guests’ room, decorated it, hung the stockings and wrapped the presents—all ready for the guests’ arrival. Awwwww.

Upon-Arrival Requests

Speaking of in-room items requested for guest arrival, photos of famous people are popular. Staff at the Huntley Hotel in Santa Monica, California, filled a couple’s room with photos of Jeff Goldblum, as requested. The satisfied guests arrived to find framed photos of the star on the desk, in the bathroom and beside the bed.

A woman staying at the Hotel Indigo in San Antonio, Texas, for a boring work conference thought she might spice up her stay by requesting a photo of Nicolas Cage from Con Air. Hotel staff happily complied, placing the framed photo beside the bed with a note that said, “Sweet dreams!”

Pillow forts are another popular request made by bored guests. Staff at the Fairmont Winnipeg left a DIY fort kit in the room of a guest who made such a request. The W, Seattle also fulfilled a guest’s request for a pillow fort—along with a towel folded into the shape of an elephant and a picture of fruit on the night table. Yes, a picture of fruit.

Particularly Narcissistic Requests

While many of the previously mentioned requests are undeniably narcissistic to a degree, the following requests really take the cake.

A guest at The Savoy, London, apparently thought they were Cleopatra reincarnated and asked for a bathtub of wild goat’s milk to bathe in. Another indulgent bath was requested by a guest staying at The Ritz (also in London) who wanted to bathe in fresh seawater. Hotel staff had to bring the seawater all the way from Brighton, 56 miles away. Is there something wrong with London’s tap water?

An Australian couple planning their wedding at the Towers of the Waldorf Astoria New York requested near life-size statues of themselves—made of chocolate. The Waldorf’s pastry chef stepped up to the challenge. Working from photos and communicating with the couple by email, it took several months to create a likeness that met the guests’ satisfaction. For the Waldorf’s sake, we hope these guests were as sweet as their statues.

Granting Your Own Guests’ Special Requests

Thankfully, such extravagant requests are uncommon, but going above and beyond for your guests is the best way to earn their loyalty and advocacy.

While the practical side of fulfilling unusual guest requests (like finding lion cubs or creating chocolate copies of guests) can be complicated, the administrative side doesn’t have to be. With the right systems in place, all kinds of requests can be logged and tracked efficiently for quick resolution that leads to satisfied guests.

A modern property management system (PMS) features a range of practical tools to help ensure no request goes unaddressed.

Reservation reminders and alarms that can be attached to guest folios or set as daily reminders help staff keep on top of all time-sensitive tasks—whether it’s to call that ostrich farm about an egg incubator as soon as their office opens, or to send someone to fetch some goat milk in time for a guest’s bath.

A modern PMS will include an integrated housekeeping report too, allowing notes and/or alarms to be attached to individual units to help both housekeeping staff and front desk personnel keep up with in-room requests, from extra pillows to full-blown pillow forts.

Fulfilling guest requests, especially extravagant ones, can come with additional costs that are passed on to the guest. A PMS with point-of-sale functionality greatly simplifies invoicing (and accounting), allowing you to set up miscellaneous products and services, apply a cost, and easily add these incidental charges to reservation folios.

Some properties use hotel/guest communication management solutions like Nuvola and Zenya that provide guests with a convenient way to communicate with the property and make requests. Designed to personalize the guest experience and more effectively meet individual needs, these solutions streamline guest communications, tracking requests in real time and simultaneously coordinating all action items. When your PMS is directly integrated with guest engagement solutions like this, the administrative side of tracking and managing requests and tasks becomes fully automated for maximum efficiency and guest satisfaction.

In the hospitality industry, customer satisfaction is paramount. We think the above-mentioned properties—who handled such bizarre guest requests with grace and aplomb—are at the top of their game. Backed by a modern PMS, your property too will be equipped to manage all kinds of requests, increasing customer satisfaction and winning the loyalty of even the most demanding guests (whether you want to or not!).

Tahoe Beach Retreat

Tahoe Beach Retreat offers cozy lakefront lodging in South Lake Tahoe, California! Offering over 250 guest rooms and suites, this property has the perfect accommodations for everyone, including some rooms that are perfect for doggy family members. Onsite amenities include a heated outdoor pool and hot tub, winter sports gear rentals, a tiki bar, an onsite pub and a fitness center.

Tahoe Beach Retreat has just started using our cloud-based WebRezPro Property Management System to help with their operations. Visit their website to see how they’re using WebRezPro’s integrated (and commission free!!) booking engine to accept online bookings!

A Good Sleep and a Quick Check-in Most Important Drivers of Guest Satisfaction

Pillow mints and chatbots are all well and good, but when it comes to satisfying guests it pays to focus on the basics. A good night’s sleep and a swift check-in are two of the most important elements of the guest experience, according to the recently released J.D. Power 2019 North America Hotel Guest Satisfaction Index (NAGSI) Study.

Measuring guest satisfaction with the entire hotel experience (from booking to post-stay communication), the study analyzed the responses of almost 45,000 guests regarding their overall experience based on a stay within the last year. The study, now in its 23rd year, includes 85 officially ranked hotel brands in six market segments (economy through luxury), and offers important insights to hoteliers about guest expectations, satisfaction and industry trends that can be applied to their own properties to help drive guest satisfaction and loyalty.

“Of all the discrete variables of the hotel guest experience we measure, a better-than-expected night’s sleep is the one with the potential to drive the highest level of overall guest satisfaction for those hotels that can deliver,” said Jennifer Corwin, Senior Manager of Consumer Insights for Travel & Hospitality Intelligence at J.D. Power.

Let’s take a closer look at the study’s findings—and at how properties can ensure they’ve got the basics right.

A Good Night’s Sleep

A good sleep does wonders for our physical and emotional well-being, so it’s not surprising that quality of sleep is a core element of a hotel stay.

A better-than-expected sleep impacts overall satisfaction scores by an increase of 114 points (on a 1000-point scale), however, only 29 percent of hotel guests experienced such sweet slumber. Of the guests who were lucky enough to enjoy a better-than-expected sleep, 78 percent say they “definitely will” return to that property.

So, what exactly does it take for a superior sleep? The study confirms what you no doubt already know—the top contributors are: a comfortable bed; a quiet room; comfy pillows; room temperature; and quality linens. But what you may not already know is that quality-of-sleep satisfaction scores are also higher when hotels provide sleep-enhancing accessories like white noise machines, earplugs, and robes and slippers.

An Efficient Check-in Process

The J.D. Power study also highlighted the importance of a quick yet friendly check-in process. Key elements of the check-in experience that impact guest satisfaction are: efficiency (ideally five minutes or less); accuracy; and a warm welcome. Satisfaction scores fall as much as 100 points when any of those criteria are not met.

A modern property management system (PMS) is crucial to an efficient, accurate and welcoming check-in process. Automating administrative tasks and providing all necessary data at your fingertips, a PMS makes it easy to create and look up reservations, access guest data, recognize returning guests, assign rooms and manage billing.

Integrating the PMS with other hotel systems like online booking channels, payment gateways, electronic locking systems, and self-check-in apps and kiosks, streamlines the check-in process even further, eliminating the need to manually crosscheck and duplicate data between systems.

Through data automation and an intuitive user interface, a modern PMS greatly simplifies the check-in process so that administrative tasks do not distract attention away from the guest. Plenty of eye contact and warm smiles make guests feel much more welcome than extended moments of silence as the check-in agent stares at a computer screen.

It’s easy to get distracted by the latest gadgets and trends, but when it comes down to it, a pleasant welcome and a good night’s sleep will always be central to the stay experience. If you get these fundamentals right, research demonstrates you’re well on your way to satisfying your guests and earning their loyalty.

Brisa Oceano Resort

Brisa Oceano Resort is nestled in the center of vibrant Placencia Village and offers condominium-style suites that are right on the beach. Guests can choose from studio, one-, two- and three-bedroom condos, most of which have full kitchens. Brisa Oceano Resort has chosen to use our cloud-based WebRezPro Property Management System to help with their operations. Visit their website to see how they’re using WebRezPro’s integrated booking engine to accept reservations!

The Russell

The Russell is a premier boutique hotel in the heart of East Nashville, Tennessee, that offers 23 unique rooms in a historic, restored church. Many of the buildings features including stained glass and old brick walls have been preserved, but the hotel offers everything a contemporary traveler desires as well. The Russell has just started using our cloud-basedWebRezPro Property Management System! Check out how they’re using WebRezPro to accept online bookings from their website!

At The Helm Hotel & Pub

Located in beautiful Ilwaco, WashingtonAt The Helm Hotel & Pub is a boutique luxury hotel that offers modern guest rooms and an onsite pub. Hotel amenities include locally sourced breakfast items delivered to guest rooms, a glass of beer or wine upon check-in and cozy bathrobes. At The Helm Hotel & Pub has just started using our cloud-based WebRezPro Property Management System! Visit their website to see how they’re using WebRezPro to accept online bookings!

Loon Lodge Inn

Situated in Rangeley, Maine, on the east shore of Rangeley LakeThe Loon Lodge Inn & Restaurant was built in 1899 and has been meticulously restored. Offering guest rooms, fine dining, pub fare and event space, this hotel is the perfect place to stay when visiting this beautiful area. The Loon Lodge Inn has just started using our cloud-based WebRezPro Property Management System! Check out their website to see how they’re using WebRezPro to accept online bookings…you may even be inspired to book your next vacation!

506 Lofts

Located in the heart of downtown Nashville, Tennessee506 Lofts provides the best vacation rental experience in the city! Guests can choose from six individually decorated and fully equipped lofts in a historic building. 506 Lofts has just started using our cloud-based WebRezPro Property Management System to help with their operations. Visit their website to see how the property is using WebRezPro’s integrated web reservation software to accept online bookings!

3 More Sleeps! How to Upgrade the Pre-Arrival Experience

Customer service is the name of the game in the hotel industry, but it starts well before the guest checks in. The days leading up to check-in are an exciting time for your guests. Anticipation builds as travelers start dreaming about and researching destinations, choose a place to stay, then count down the days until they get there.

A recent study from Cornell University’s School of Hotel Administration found that savoring an upcoming experience heightens the enjoyment of the actual experience when it happens and when it’s remembered.

In the quest to deliver a high level of customer service to guests on site, the pre-arrival experience is often overlooked, but it’s an important part of the guest journey. The pre-arrival stage offers lodging operators a prime opportunity for increasing guest engagement, personalizing the guest experience, boosting ancillary revenue and improving guest satisfaction.

Upgrading the pre-arrival experience isn’t hard to do and is well worth the effort!

Start with Your Website

Inspire prospective guests in the dreaming stage of their journey with an engaging website design that reflects your property in its best light. Promote not only your property’s features, amenities, location and what makes it special, but also your local destination from an insider’s perspective. Portraying your property as an experience, rather than just a place to stay, will appeal to your customers’ sense of discovery and fuel their excitement.

Simple design, big, beautiful images, intuitive navigation, mobile friendliness and easy online bookings are some key elements of a hotel website that converts lookers into bookers.

Social Media

Social media networks like Facebook and Instagram are ideal platforms for inspiring travel plans and building excitement. Approximately 30% of U.S. travelers turn to social media to find travel inspiration. Once a trip is booked, consumers turn to social media to feed their excitement, with 52% liking pages related to their vacation and 59% posting a status update about their upcoming trip.

Sharing positive user-generated content and posts about special experiences at your property and local destination will help build anticipation and encourage pre-arrival engagement, whether in the form of a like, a follow, a comment, or contacting your property directly to find out more.

Pre-arrival Communications

Once the booking is made, direct communications by email (mobile-friendly) and mobile messaging are the best way to build guest excitement, promote upgrades and upsells, and gather valuable guest data for personalizing the guest experience. Pre-arrival emails have an average open rate of 57% according to Revinate. There’s an audience you don’t want to miss!

Many properties send a booking confirmation email and then stop there. But the time between booking and check-in is ripe with opportunities for boosting engagement and revenue. We recommend reaching out to future guests three or four times before they arrive.

>> Booking Confirmation – Your booking confirmation email should thank the guest for their booking and contain details of the guest’s reservation as well as helpful information about your property and amenities too. Your property management system (PMS) should recognize repeat guests and trigger booking confirmation that acknowledges their loyalty.

Invite guests to let you know in advance of any special requirements, and offer ways to enhance their stay through upgrades and add-on services.

>> Pre-arrival / Upgrade Offers – About one week before arrival, reach out again to take advantage of the guest’s growing anticipation. Remind them of the details of their stay, invite them to ask questions and make requests, and offer ways to upgrade their experience—through room upgrades, add-ons, restaurant bookings, early check-in, etc. as appropriate.

Help build excitement by letting future guests know about relevant events happening around town while they are visiting, what the weather is like, what to bring, and that you are looking forward to seeing them!

If you are comfortable with it, consider sending another similar (yet briefer) message approximately three days prior to check-in to give guests another opportunity to ask any questions they may have or let you know of any special requests.

A pre-arrival questionnaire provides an easy way for guests to convey their needs and preferences, and can cover questions like, “Are you traveling with kids?” “Do you have any special dietary requirements?” “Are you interested in activity bookings?” “Do you need a ride from the airport?” etc. that will help you personalize their stay.

>> Check-in Day – On check-in day, reach out again to let your guest know you are looking forward to their arrival and to offer any helpful check-in information, like self-check-in options, where to park and when their room is ready.

Some guest engagement platforms like Guestfolio and Zenya enable hotels to send pre-arrival messages that link guests to pre-arrival surveys and/or a personal mobile concierge, allowing guests to personalize their upcoming stay. But even without such technology, your pre-arrival communications should always invite future guests to let you know how you can make their stay perfect.

Any guest information garnered from pre-arrival communications should be added to the guest’s profile and used to personalize their experience going forward.

PMS + CRM & Mobile Messaging Integration

Through customizable templates, personalized pre-arrival communications can be automated through your PMS, CRM or mobile messaging platform, greatly reducing the burden on staff (we’ve yet to meet a lodging operator with the time to personally write to each and every guest!).

But the real magic happens when you integrate your PMS with a CRM or mobile messaging solution. Direct integration allows your PMS to send live reservation data to your CRM or messaging platform, eliminating the need for staff to input that information manually, and resulting in fully automated, highly targeted communications that boost your brand and guest engagement.

Upgrading the pre-arrival experience is something you can achieve today, so don’t hesitate to get your guests excited about their stay and reap the benefits of higher guest engagement, richer guest data, more incremental revenue and more satisfied guests!