Winning the Hospitality Game: How to Have Contented Guests
By Victoria Lim, Freelance Lifestyle Writer
Hoteliers are always on the lookout to improve the experience of staying at their accommodations, but now, in the age of Trip Advisor and social media, each decision has to be made carefully. Hospitality is being taken to a whole new level, as travellers share their experiences on various platforms and competition is swarming. And it's so much more than comfortable spaces and a polite staff. The modern-day traveller is looking to feel truly welcome and taken care of in every way possible, and as reviews have proven, it's the little things that go a long way.
Welcome your guest as a traveller, not a customer
Isn't that what hospitality is about, essentially? Various reviews hint that a large part of the younger population prefers staying in smaller hotels or hostels. This is not just because they tend to be cheaper, but because they cultivate an approach that welcomes guests to the region and upkeep the traveller culture rather than the tourist culture. Use the specifics of your location to your advantage and showcase them as a way to introduce your guest and make them feel connected to the place they're staying at.
This is a good opportunity to partner up with local businesses and offer food or other products that are specific to your location. It makes each hotel feel less generic, which is something people desperately want.
Host event nights
Give your guests a night to remember. The biggest issue people have with hotels (especially larger ones) is the feeling of detachment and someone who travels a lot usually doesn't even remember all the comfortable, refined places they stayed at. The theme or the specifics of the party don't matter as much as just providing an opportunity to mingle, considering that so many people indeed do look forward to new experiences and new people on their travels (remember that a lot of people travel solo). If possible, take this opportunity for branding and offer little promotional items to keep as souvenirs from the event.
Be transparent about fees
People would rather have higher nightly rates for a stay that offers lots of commodities, than to be charged for various things at every step, from Wi-Fi to toothpaste (yes, some hotels charge for toothpaste, and people find it a bit petty). It's just a matter of feeling like a guest and not having to add up dimes. If you do have fees for some commodities, make sure they're not hidden, or else you'll end up with guests feeling swindled and surprised at check-out. And whatever you do, make sure you don't charge for Wi-Fi, because something like that really puts people off in an era where Internet is part of everyday life.
Offer your guests something unexpected and free. Adults are delighted by freebies like little children, no matter how small they are. Surprise your guests by leaving some travel accessories in each room – it doesn't need to be anything expensive, of course, as a simple set of headphones or a passport holder that represents your brand are all simple hospitality gifts that set you apart from competitors. Freebie snacks and drinks are especially good ways to surprise your guests and make them feel taken care of.
Mind the toiletries
If you're using toiletries as an opportunity for branding, that's a great approach, but beware of the quality you're offering. It's not enough to just plaster the brand name on a bottle of shampoo which leaves a person wishing they hadn't washed their hair with it in the first place. As we mentioned, the hospitality game has changed and evolved greatly. Some hotels carry known toiletry brands and this puts them at a great advantage, as guests know they don't have to pack their own shampoos and conditioners and actually look forward to using the products you offer. It's a more luxurious approach, but one to be considered.
Larger hotel chains have mastered room service, but when it comes to smaller boutique hotels, it's necessary to find creative ways to provide it even without the necessary facilities. For example, a boutique hotel that doesn't have a kitchen on its premises can arrange delivery from nearby restaurants for its guests. It's yet another way to partner up with local businesses and ensure weary guests are full and contented. This cannot always be easy for hotel owners, of course, but a good alternative is a well-stacked minibar and complimentary food platters. The way to a guest's heart is through their stomach, and hotels without kitchens need to keep this in mind.
In the end, comfort is mandatory, but a more personal approach towards the guests is greatly valued – and this is something that hotel chains are often accused of lacking. Currently, the ground is set very well for smaller hotel owners as travellers are delighted by that unique touch of hospitality, the little things that say their hosts understand what it means to be tired from travelling and new to a place. It's as if we're reflecting the era of guesthouses, only more elegant, refined, and with better trained staff.