If like me, you’re accustomed to waking up in a different hotel room every week, you’re bound to have your frustrations about hotels in general. It doesn’t matter whether it’s a bed and breakfast in Blackpool or a five-star hotel in London, I believe there are certain things all hotels should do for their customers. And most of the time it’s the little things that can make or break a hotel stay – the bare necessities that sometimes elude you.
Without further ado, I’ve compiled five tips for hotels, all of which are based on my own experiences as a customer and traveller.
It’s one of the easiest ways to make a good impression from the moment guests walk through the door. Take the time to learn your customers’ details prior to their arrival. Personalising the welcome is a nice touch and instantly shows the high standards of customer service. This tip is as simple as they come: be prepared and anticipate your guests’ arrival.
Yet another straightforward tip, but something you don’t see all too often. Providing free bottled water in rooms is one gesture, albeit small, that customers really appreciate. No one should be forced to pay for it out the minibar, or even risk untreated tap water when abroad! The cost is minimal, yet the customer appreciation is huge.
Although it may seem strange, hotels (namely large ones in big cities) need to look closely at whether they have enough lifts in operation. I’ve stayed in numerous places where I’ve been left waiting and waiting to get down to real ground. My worst experience was when I spent 45 minutes waiting for a lift at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas. I couldn’t even use the stairs because they were for emergency use only!
When staying in the UK, I like to see Sky TV in rooms. Obviously, there’s a large expense here, but in top hotels I wouldn’t expect anything less. Whether it’s dial ‘1’ or a big reception button, make it clear how guests contact reception via the room telephone. Tagging onto the end of this point, it’s good to have adequate lighting in rooms so I can see things (my eyesight is decent, too). I like the mood lighting in hotels nowadays, but not if it’s the only source of light! And lastly, install a CCTV system. If someone steals from my room, I want to have a fighting chance of getting my possessions back!
The big one… Overbooking
A customer’s worst nightmare… all that time and effort travelling to a destination, only to be told we don’t have your reservation and there’s no room available. For those who follow me on Twitter, you may have noticed I had a bad experience with overbooking recently. I had travelled down south for an Institute of Licensing conference at a certain hotel, where I arrived the night before to check-in. I was told the hotel was fully booked and they did not have my reservation. Considering the Institute paid a vast sum of money to hold the conference at the hotel, it wasn’t a good move to overbook and leave the chairman without a room.
Anyway, I ended up sleeping on a camp bed in one of the conference rooms because I refused to go away (the cleaner woke me up at 6 am trying to vacuum the room). It wasn’t a great experience, all caused by a deliberate corporate strategy. Hotel chains, especially ones that are commonly used for business conferences, are knowingly overbooking their hotels to maximise profit. I’ve seen it happen time and time again. Therefore, I refused to go elsewhere when I was told it was overbooked.
Hotels, and to some extent airlines, need to look at whether this strategy is really worth it. In the world of social media and video, it’s potentially very brand damaging. You only need to watch the video of the man who was dragged off an American Airline flight last year to see the chaos that overbooking causes!