I walked into my five star hotel room in Budapest, Hungary and flopped on the bed.
I was tired. I was hungry. It had been a long day of travel and meetings. I glanced around the room for a room service menu.
I couldn’t find one. Nor could I figure out which line to call the front desk after mashing a series of phone buttons. I sighed and went downstairs.
Though the front desk service was amicable and the room was beautiful, my in-room experience was lacking. In today’s competitive hospitality landscape, the savvy hotelier knows that a guest’s experience should extend from the front desk, to the room all the way through checkout.
Location isn’t everything
Some hotel are fortunate to be in the perfect location. Their guests may enjoy gazing from their room at magnificent snowcapped mountains or across a white sandy beach, lapped by clear blue sea. However, it is possible to dazzle your guests even when they can’t throw back the curtains to a spectacular view.
Guests today want more than standard hotel amenities and good views. To make their stay truly memorable, it is necessary for the room itself to excite them.
There are two ways to keep your hotel in a guest’s memory long after they have left. One is through outstanding personal service and the other is by offering a room that delivers an experience unlike anything they’ve previously enjoyed.
Make it personal
You can make guests feel special in a variety of ways. The impression starts with the way they are greeted on arrival, and the subsequent attitude of staff in every aspect of interaction. Housekeeping, room service and maintenance staff all contribute to a guest’s sense of importance. Online reviews are rife with comments, good and bad, concerning staff. It is relatively simple to foster positive comments with a responsive, welltrained workforce alert to opportunities to impress the guests.
Personal service extends beyond staff and guest contact. A chocolate left on the pillow is an appreciated gesture but some hotels are going one step further. They are personalizing the chocolate wrapper by using a simple app to print the guest’s name on it, along with a friendly message.
This shows that using technology effectively to dazzle a guest does not have to be grand or expensive. Customization may also be as simple as automatically changing the online instructions for the television and other room devices, such as a coffee maker, into the language of the guest. For a monolingual traveler in a foreign land this can be a welcome relief.
Residence Inn by Marriott World Trade’s “Fill My Fridge Program”, offers complimentary grocery shopping allowing guests to return to their rooms with a full fridge with their favorites. The Manhattan based hotel also offers in-room delivery service from local restaurant, The Malt House where guests can simply order and eat in.
Connect your guests
As guests now arrive at hotels with smartphones, tablets and other devices, connectivity has become an essential part of any hotel’s service. According to a recent customer study, internet connectivity was a key provision that guests felt could be improved. Today such connectivity should be commonplace but it still affords a hotel the chance to impress guests.
An increasing number of hotels are enabling a guest’s smartphone to act as an electronic door key to their room. By downloading an app, their smartphone can also function as a remote control for all the devices in the room, removing the need to touch the sometimes grubby remotes. By allowing a guest to use their own smartphone to manage the room’s temperature, open and close the curtains and influence other aspects of the room, they gain a sense of personal control.
In-room entertainment systems provide further possibilities to amaze guests. In-room entertainment systems should entertain. Too often guests are confronted with a limited selection of boring TV channels, a number of which appear to have been recorded during a blizzard.
Hotels offering exceptional in-room entertainment may be rewarded by guests commenting favorably on social media, perhaps even while enjoying the experience. Surround sound, 4k ultrahigh resolution screens and topquality music delivery are just some of the options already available. A library of films to be played on the room’s 3D player, with glasses provided, can lift entertainment to a new level.
Any television should accept SD cards so that guests can view their day’s photos. A Skype interface for video calls to tell their friends what a wonderful time they’re having would also be an asset.
Some hotels embracing technology have installed wall screens that serve as large televisions, information displays, city maps or even userselected art displays. If a guest doesn’t want works by their favorite artist displayed in HD on the wall, they can select scenery to suit their mood. Even if they are staying in a wintry city in Europe, they can relax to the sight and sounds of the surging surf of a Yucatan beach displayed across the wall. At Aloft Hotels, you can even control your room experience with just your voice.
Simple yet dazzling
It can be a simple matter to delight the guest, and even small additions to the room can do this. Lights switches that glow on approach at night are easier to find. Room floors that
illuminate the way to the bathroom make night time journeys safer. Subtle warming of the bathroom floor tiles can make the visit more comfortable.
The bathroom provides several opportunities to surprise guests. Transparent glass walls between the bathroom and the bedroom can evoke a sense of space but are not always desirable. In some hotels it is possible to turn the glass opaque by the touch of a button. Toilet seats are available that automatically lift on approach and close after use.
In the bedroom, the bed itself can differentiate the room. A few hotels provide beds with massaging capability controlled by the guest’s iPad or smartphone. The head end of these beds can be raised and lowered to create a more comfortable position for watching the television or reading a book.
At first glance, some of these may seem to be small innovations but they will be noticed by the guest. They are what make the room special, a place to be remembered and enthused about to others.
Today’s best hotel technology is tomorrow’s standard fare. Advances will continue to be made that will enable hotels to stand out as different more easily and more quickly. A talking dinosaur at reception or a robot trundling along the corridor carrying luggage will certainly attract attention but the ability to enrich the guest’s experience and comfort will draw them back.
It important that in the competitive race to adopt new ideas, but the fundamentals of good hospitality must not be forgotten. Combine this with the best inroom experience technology can provide and you can dazzle your guests regardless of location.
About the author
Arianna O’Dell is the founder of Airlink Marketing, a digital agency that helps hotels, restaurants and travel destinations attract and retain clientele.