|Hotel Possible: Turning the Bad News Into Positive Experiences.|
By Melanie Nayer ~ Weekly Exclusive Column
Wednesday, 9th May 2012
There's nothing wrong with being picky when it comes to your hotel stay, just ask Anthony Melchiorri, hotel critic and host of the new Travel Channel show 'Hotel Impossible.'
The show advises hotels on how to improve - and by improve, we're not just talking about upgrading the thread count on bed linens.
Melchiorri works with hotels to spruce up everything from the decor to the service, all with the goal of increasing sales. This week, he visits the Purple Orchid in Livermore, California wine country.
I caught the episode, and was surprised at how much detail went overlooked by the hotel owners.
To the owners' defense - a married couple with a baby on the way who fell in love with the resort - they have absolutely no hotel experience. They traded in their photography business to run this resort, but are lacking in the traditional - and obvious - skills needed to run a hotel.
The front porch needs dusting, the garden needs tending, the driveway needs paving, and that's just the exterior of the resort. One look inside and you can tell there haven't been guests here in a while.
"Cleanliness is the single most important things in choosing a hotel," Melchiorri told the owners.
The 10-room property has themed rooms which sell for $150-$375 a night. Melchiorri says he isn't a fan of themed rooms; I rather like them. I think themed rooms, if done appropriately, add personality and charm to the hotel. Unfortunately, the rooms at the Purple Orchid were lacking in both.
Some of the rooms have jacuzzis and most have exceptional views of the olive harvest on the land, which Melchiorri points is a major upsell opportunity.
As Melchiorri walked through the resort pointing out things that are wrong and things that need fixing, he's also pointing out the beauty missed at this wine country. The spa was a perfect example.
The Purple Orchid had a full staff on duty, but no appointments booked and no one doing anything to help clean up the place (which looked more like a doctor's office than a zen spa space).
"I'd rather send guests home than have them endure a bad experience," he told the owners.
So, what are the things Melchiorri absolutely can't stand when it comes to hotels? Melchiorri, who has been in the hospitality business for 20 years and worked with legendary hotels like The Plaza and the Algonquin in New York City to renovate brand, shared his pet peeves with the Associated Press - and they aren't that different than the typical hotel guests' complaints.
Simple things like greeting a guest are important, said Melchiorri.
"If the guest is standing, you're standing," Melchiorri told the Purple Orchid owners.
His biggest fear? Bedbugs. Melchiorri told the AP he puts his luggage in the bathroom because "that’s the safest place away from any insects." When he's done inspecting the beds for bugs, he'll move his luggage to a metal luggage rack because metal repels bed bugs.
As far as his pet peeves, they're very similar to the pet peeves of most guests a hotel is likely to encounter. Not enough electrical outlets, alarms that go off in the middle of the night because the maid reset the clock after the previous guest, and hotels that charge for WiFi are among his complaints. Sound familiar, hotels? This hotel expert's pet peeves are not unlike the same complaints (or constructive feedback) that your guests are saying.
As for the Purple Orchid in California - by the time Melchiorri left, the resort was in better working order and ready for guests. The hotel added an online booking system, spruced up its spa, and added a hotel manager to help with customer relations. Sometimes, it's the little things that make all the difference.
Melanie Nayer is a hotel reviewer and expert on luxury travel around the world. She has covered all aspects of hotels including corporate restructures, re-branding initiatives, historical aspects and the best of the best in luxury hotels around the world.
Melanie writes a weekly exclusive column for 4Hoteliers.com