From Economy to Luxury, What Matters Most to Hotel Guests
By Ram Gupta
Friday, 20th July 2018

In today’s age of social media where every individual’s opinion is typed out in 140 characters or fewer, an old Sanskrit saying 'Atithi Devo Bhavah' is perhaps a more pronounced mantra on how to treat guests: Be it a luxury Four Seasons or a budget Premier Inn, all guests are entitled to a warm welcome, a friendly face, attentive service and a lot more.

This article shares a few interesting insights on what exactly modern travelers want and expect from their stay at your hotel.

Be it luxury, boutique, or an economy hotel, the primary focus of each kind of establishment is to win repeat customers. And, even though guests value price, reputation, room quality, and location when choosing a hotel, those are just the basics – the minimum requirements you need to fulfill to keep your business running. But basics aren’t going to get you customers for life. You need to think several steps ahead, if you’re looking to retain your customers.

Guests nowadays are more interested in personalized experiences and services. But how exactly does a hotel create meaningful and lasting relationships with their guests, ensuring that they are happy and willing to return to them again and again? Here are a few things engages guests and keeps them coming back to you time and again.

First Impressions Count

The age-old concept “first impressions are lasting impressions” is clichéd but true. From the minute a guest lands up at your doors, he starts making judgments – and whether this is a good impression or a bad one is entirely in your hands. If they’re kept waiting or ignored because the hotel staff was busy with something else, it’s enough to darken their mood. On the other hand, if they’re greeted with warm smiles, and tended to by attentive servers, your guests will definitely feel like they’ve made the right choice by booking rooms in your establishment.

These may seem like small things, but in the overall picture, they matter a lot and can mean the difference between a 5-star rating or a not-so-favorable review. That’s why I would always advise you not to treat your guests like mere room numbers. The hospitality industry is all about making people feel welcome, valued and looked after. And everything in your hotel – from the decor to the service to the amenities must echo these sentiments. If you’re able to do that, you can be sure that your guests will remember you fondly.

Personalised Service

Guest personalization is the new buzzword dominating the hospitality industry trends in 2018. The new norm of the hospitality industry is bespoke or be gone. In today’s tech-savvy world, being a monolithic hotel offering one-size-fits-all services is a recipe for disaster. Guests these days are far more discerning than they used to be earlier. They expect their experiences to be personalized. They want you to go above and beyond the call of duty to make their stay memorable.

Put their demands on high priority, preempt their needs and fulfill them. For example, if you’ve got a honeymoon couple visiting you, surprise them with a romantic candlelight dinner by the pool. A family traveling with infants would greatly appreciate the availability of a stroller, while senior citizens would love it if you offered them the hotel car to drive them around. Trust me, these gestures will not go unnoticed and earn you great brownie points with the guests.

Home Away From Home

Even the savviest of globetrotters get homesick and crave homely comforts. Hoteliers nowadays should focus on offering the best of both worlds, the luxuries of travel blended with the comforts of home. The services can range from a bath barista drawing you a luxurious bath to a sleep concierge who helps create a perfect environment for a relaxing sleep – they even bring up cookies and milk before bedtime for your kids! Such personalised services leave a lasting impact on your guests.

The Amenities That Matter

While you are focused on offering unique, over the top services, do not forget the basics. A sleep concierge will be of little use if the bed in the guest’ s room is not comfortable enough. Besides, studies show that the guests would rather opt for improved services such as Internet connectivity, comfortable beds, and responsive employees instead of the hotel bar, concierge services, in-room dining, the fitness facility, and luggage services.

Now, I am not saying that personalised services aren’t paramount; in fact, I am stressing on their importance. But facilities like in-room bar, guest room radios, plush robes, and valet parking aren’t going to salvage the situation, if the staff is not courteous, the bed is not comfortable enough, and the room is not up to the mark.

The journey towards building a repeated customer base goes beyond the basic factors like quality, brand reputation, comfort and price. This explains why boutique hotels are thriving. They offer services which facilitate personalized the travel experience. To encourage repeat customers and gain good reviews, hoteliers will have to offer the finest hotel experiences with a touch of personalisation.

Ram Gupta, the author is a hotel management graduate from India and Germany; He is a certified Hotel Administrator from U.S. and MIH from U.K. He has over 40 years of sound experience in the Hospitality and real estate industry in India, Dubai, U.K, Europe and Japan and is well versed with all areas of business including acquisitions, mergers, joint ventures, diversification, strategic planning, development and operations.

He has been associated with over two dozen luxury and boutique hotel projects and has launched two hotel chains in India. He is currently an independent hotel consultant and could be contacted at ramgupta@bcgglobal.com. Website: www.bcgglobal.com

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