09 Mar 15 Expert Travelers Share The Secret of Making Hotel Guests Happy
In recent blog posts we’ve been putting together a lot of great information about local Charlottetown attractions, like the oldest buildings in Charlottetown, the East Coast Music Festival coming next April, some excellent information about Charlottetown’s Confederation Centre of the Arts and even some of Charlottetown’s Historical Landmarks and Monuments.
But I wanted to take a break from that and let you into my thoughts.
Recently I was wondering how I could, as a hotel guest have my best hotel stay ever. What specific features or factors in my stay would push me to see my trip as an incredibly positive experience?
Obviously Charlottetown Inn & Conference Centre wants its guests to have the best stay possible, and we’d love to be able to influence other Charlottetown hotels through leading by example. We’re constantly working to solve problems before they arise and to think of and provide the little pleasures wherever we can. However, two brains are better than one, and fourteen brains? That’s genius!
So, I broke out of my office and asked some of my favourite travellers and travel writers one specific question:
If you were the manager of a hotel in a tourist area, what would you focus on to make sure your guests had the best possible time and why?
I wanted to hear from travellers because, well, they’ve seen it all. Their answers were extremely interesting and it’s my pleasure to share them with you!
Creative Director and Co-Founder of WildJunket Magazine
I think my main focus would be to encourage people to get out of the hotel/resort and explore the area. It is really disheartening to see so many tourists (specially in beach destinations) that just linger around their accommodation during their whole stay in a country, without taking the chance to experience the real life in the place they are visiting. I know our hotel is great but go out, try local food, talk to people, visit a local market… I guarantee it would make your stay a much more memorable experience.
Writer and Owner of Virtual Wayfarer
The guests themselves. One of the things many hotels forget is that they are primarily there to service the customer. If people feel great about the experience and feel special, then a lot of the secondary factors that might pop up become much more minor – eg: is the room small, is the location mediocre was something dirty? By focusing on not just being attentive and responsive, but pro-active, inclusive, engaging, and by offering simple utilitarian things free you build a lot of goodwill which goes a long ways towards improving a person’s stay. A key way to do it is through information. Most of a hotel’s guests are by their nature visitors. Front desk attendants that recognize you, that are eager to help, that check in on you, and that are able to provide great information are a huge asset that make a big difference. It is important for a hotel to remember that they may be one of the only points of access and information that the visitor has to the local area and real-world-insight to the city.
Creative Web Producer of Plum Deluxe
Travelers always want to know where the locals go! There’s plenty of information out there on big attractions, but what about places to have a drink or a nice meal? Where’s a spot with a lovely view, or locally owned smaller attractions, like an art gallery or boutique shop. Survey your staff and have them share their favorites, and package that up as a quick local guide for hotel guests.
Follow Andy Hayes on Twitter and Facebook.
Audrey Scott and Daniel Noll
Chief Storytellers at Uncornered Market
Local food exploration is a such a big part of travel these days. It can sometimes completely make a trip based on the people you meet and the experiences you have. So if I were a manager of a hotel in a tourist area, I’d be sure to have a long list of local restaurants and markets to visit. These would be places that are not touristy, but instead are full of locals with friendly staff and great food. Perhaps I’d even make up a recommendations book dedicated to food so that guests could see what others recommend.
I would also focus on providing filtered water to guests and encourage them not to buy bottled water but instead refill their bottles. This would help prevent unnecessary plastic bottle waste.
Owner/Editor of Hole in the Donut Cultural Travel Blog
If I was the manager of a hotel in a tourist area I would do an orientation with guests concurrent with their check-in. Tourists are almost always unfamiliar with the city/area they are visiting and I think a bit of fear often goes along with that. So a five-minute personal conversation, with a good copy of a local map, can go a long way to make a guest not only feel comfortable, but gives them confidence they can count on the hotel staff for assistance if needed. I would mark the location of the hotel on the map, point out the most popular tourist destinations and explain how best to get there, and briefly discuss means of transport if they do not have a car at their disposal. I’d also point out good restaurants that are within walking distance. If they’re from outside the country, I’d mark the nearest ATM’s on the map.
I’d expect my staff to try to greet the guest by name and ask how their day was when they return from sightseeing. Occasional inquiries during their stay, such as whether they are finding the accommodations to their liking or are in need of anything, go a long way toward making a guest feel like the hotel is their “home away from home.”
Finally, when I’m staying in a hotel I always have a better stay when the staff members are smiling. It may sound trite or insignificant, but when I’m greeted with frowns or by employees who are clearly unhappy with their job, it sets the stage for my visit.
Host of Amateur Traveler Podcast
Think about what you would do if your best friend was staying with you but you could not get off work to take them around personally. Certainly you would want the food to be pleasant the room to be clean, but beyond that you would want to show off your city. Can you help them with advice? directions? maps? tickets? Start keeping a list a questions guests ask and a collection of good answers.
Co-Founder with Linda Martin of Indie Travel Podcast
It’s important to do the basics right, of course: clean rooms and living areas; friendly, competent staff. After that, I think a lot can be done to create experiences of the destination — partnering with local cultural groups, putting on afternoon drinks and snacks, working with local tour operators to integrate the experience of being at the hotel with being in the region that you’re exploring.
A great example of this is the Ponsonby Backpackers in Auckland. The managers, two expat Brits, travelled around the world before settling down to run a youth hostel in New Zealand. They transformed it into one of the top hostels in the country by going out of their way to create local engagement: bikes to get around the city, fresh fruit from the garden, or baking to take away with you, and a soft sales approach to locally-run tours which helps their guests to understand what they might do, and to make the most of their time in New Zealand.
Founder of Dave’s Travel Corner
I would focus on making guests happy and feel good about their stay at the hotel and in the region – so they turn into repeat visitors as well as referrals. That would be our core philosophy.
In a “tourist area” they obviously need a place to stay but the region is a big part of the reason for visiting. We would need to ensure that we knew the area inside and out. We need a keen and unique understanding of our region and relationships with those in the area so that we can give our clientele as much perspective and range of ideas and choices about making their stay here a memorable and valuable one.
Depending on the type of hotel, I would reach out to local businesses to introduce our customers to their services face to face at our hotel – depending on the area it could be local brew-masters giving samples of their product, winery owners pouring wine, chefs or tour operators.
Writer and Owner of Delicious Baby
For visitors with young kids, I would provide maps marked with recommendations for kid friendly attractions and restaurants in the area. For example, restaurants that give families a chance to sample local food, and are kid friendly or museums that have a kids area or kids tours.
I would also provide amenities in the guest room that help families be comfortable at the end of the day. For example, stepstools to help young kids reach the sink, clean well maintained cribs, and a diaper genie.
Traveler and Founder of Everything Everywhere
Ultimately, a hotel can only do so much. Other than providing a good experience in the rooms and making sure everyone has a great stay, if you are in a tourist area, the attractions and the destination will probably determine how good a time someone will have.
Traveler and Founder of Travel Wonders
I would have our hotel understand our city well and know the sights, food, drink, cultural areas and history of the area beyond that of guidebooks and tourist brochures to help capture the true heart, mood and feeling of the city.
Follow Mark Heers on Twitter.
Traveler and Founder of Solo Friendly
Everything that makes a positive guest experience stems from a genuine, customer-focused culture in which employees feel empowered to go above and beyond their normal duties to make guests happy. So, as hotel manager, I’d establish in-house programs to reward staff for their guest-centric attitudes and their creative ideas that allow us to deliver an above-average guest experience.
I would be sure to provide our guests with a warm and welcoming environment with a nightly manager’s reception during which they can meet other guests and ask questions of knowledgeable staff. I’d provide them with information to help them save time and get the most out of their stay–street and public transportation maps of the area, ability to purchase tickets and public transportation passes in the hotel, tips on shortcuts to avoid traffic, a list of the best restaurants in the area (in all budget ranges), and other “insider information” that only the locals usually know. To help them further get value for their dollar while they’re our guests, I would eliminate resort and parking fees, offer a free breakfast, offer free wifi throughout the hotel, and establish relationships with local attractions and businesses to provide discounts for our guests.
Writer and Owner of One Step 4Ward
I’ve stayed in over 500 hotels/guest houses around the world and without doubt the best service I can receive is quality advice about the surrounding area. How to spend my next few days, places to go further afield – the lot!
Often the first day in a place can be spent online, flicking through generic guide books and even then you’re just hoping that you got it right. If the hotel can offer you first-hand advice on what to see/where to go then the guests are guaranteed a great time.