A recent issue of Condé Nast Traveler extolled the success of the Library Hotel Collection's four properties. Perennially, the organization's boutique-style hotels rank in the Top 10 (Ranking #1, #3, #5 and #6 as of this writing) of the 437 TripAdvisor listings in New York City proper. How it is that these small (not one property exceeds 103 rooms) and less-than-brand-new properties deliver such stellar results?
I'm lucky to have worked with Adele Gutman, the Chain's affable VP of Sales, Marketing and Revenue. In her own words, the answer is simple, "We cherish our guests and we let them know by our actions that they are appreciated. We respect their needs and care for them as we would a member of our family."
Easier said than done. I was determined to learn for myself, so I joined Adele on an inspection of all four properties. Here are my observations:
No ‘Innkeeper Syndrome' here. These hotels treat their guests to a number of supposed ‘extras'. This means free WiFi in guestrooms, the lobby and all public spaces. It also includes: free breakfast, free in-room bottled water, free all-day coffee and snacks, free evening wine and cheese and free newspapers. That's a lot of ‘free'! In an era of endless add-ons and drip pricing, the impression left with guests is probably one of awe or, frankly, incredibility.
Flawless housekeeping. I viewed six guestrooms and could not find an error or item out of place. The bathrooms were small and nowhere new, but literally sparkled. The hallway carpets had zero stains; no scuff marks on doorframes; nor was there anything misplaced in the lobbies or restaurants.
Small, efficient ‘people-sized' facilities. These are not large properties. Check-in feels more like walking into a private home than a hotel. The restaurants and lounges have a clubby feel to encourage guest interaction. Because food and beverage is, in effect, free, it too is immediately accessible.
The lounge acts like a living room. The private quarters are small. There is room service only during the day, not 24 hour- a definite faux pas for many in the business. However, they try to make the Clubrooms and other common spaces such as rooftops so inviting that it encourages guests to spend time in the lounge. This gives the staff an opportunity to interact with the guests and build the relationship. It also expands the guests' enjoyment of the full space in the hotel. The guestroom size itself becomes less important when the common spaces feel like your own living room. And it works.
Distinctive with memorable elements. Each property is unique. From endless collections of books and the use of the Dewey Decimal System to number rooms to an ode to the movie Casablanca in its namesake property. These little subtle details act as the adjectives to the nouns and verbs of the hotel experience; they add texture, color and true character.
Everyone cares. I met over two dozen people, perhaps more, and everyone appeared concerned for their guests' wellbeing. Their actions were not stilted or fake, as they exhibited genuine service orientation. It's a system of consummate perfection that includes managers continually reviewing and offering constructive criticism for their team members. They were always looking for ways to heighten the air of luxury, and to treat guests like princes and princesses.
It is refreshing to note that getting back to basics works. The Library Hotel Collection does not set a goal of over-wowing their guests with excesses and grandeur. Rather, they wow them with kindness and use the tools available to everyone in the hotel business: common sense with a shrewd guest focus. This may be difficult to duplicate in a 300-room or a 600-room property, but the lessons learned here are nonetheless universally applicable. Treat the guest as you would a friend visiting your own home, or better, and you'll be amazed at the results.
About Larry Mogelonsky
Larry Mogelonsky (firstname.lastname@example.org) is the president and founder of LMA Communications Inc. (www.lma.ca), an award-winning, full service communications agency focused on the hospitality industry (est. 1991). Larry is also the developer of Inn at a Glance hospitality software. As a recognized expert in marketing services, his experience encompasses Four Seasons Hotels & Resorts and Preferred Hotels & Resorts, as well as numerous independent properties throughout North America, Europe and Asia. Larry is a registered professional engineer, and received his MBA from McMaster University.
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