So you’ve got the booking. All you do now is wait for your guests to arrive. Right? No.
I’m sure you, like me, have made purchases – maybe bought a new pair of shoes, ordered a new car, or booked a holiday – only to reflect afterwards if we’ve done the right thing.
With a car it may have been an over zealous salesman, and now you start to see the car everywhere, or you hear tales of unreliability. When you’ve bought that new pair of shoes (I’m addressing the ladies here!) and you wonder if you will ever get any wear out of them. And with the holiday you start to read of poor experiences or learn that you have to fly from some remote airport that means leaving home at some forsaken hour to get your flight.
So what has this to do with your hotel guests? Why would they ever feel remorse?
Well, let’s think about that period between making the booking and arriving at their room.
Do your guests get:
A stony silence for the intervening period?
…..Or do you:
- Send a personalised confirmation email summarising their booking
- Send details of the events and activities happening locally during their stay so they can plan ahead
- Offer to make dinner, theatre or event reservations for them
- Send them directions and journey times from their home postcode to reach you (this also helps reduce the risk of stressed late arrivals)
- Advise of the best and most cost effective routes from the airport or railway station
Frustrated at having to make a detour due to the local roadworks, missing the turn into the car park or finding the car parking full?
….Or do you:
- Advise them of any traffic problems by email or text
- Allocate ample parking for your expected guests opposed to the car park being full of employees’ vehicles
- Warn guests in advance if you have limited parking and advise of the alternatives
- Ensure the hotel entrance and car park are well sign posted and lit so guests can easily find the entrance
Tell guests in advance of any security measures needed to enter the car park
A poor first impression
….Or do you ensure:
- The car park is clean, tidy and well lit
- The route from the car park to reception is well sign posted
- Staff on breaks, waste bins, and delivery areas are all out of sight
- The walk to the entrance is easy to navigate with heavy bags (and potentially the pouring rain)
- The main entrance is clean (including any signage), welcoming, and obvious from the street and the car park
The first thing guests see as they walk in the door is a smiling welcoming face…
A disappointing welcome
….Or do you ensure:
- Staff are warm, friendly and welcoming to guests – no matter what their role
- The route from reception to their room is easy (eg lift working correctly, clear signs, clear of discarded room service trays, key cards work properly)
- The room is fresh, well maintained and at a comfortable temperature
- The bathroom is spotlessly clean
…..and if there are any problems your team are trained and work as a team to address these and deliver great customer service.
If you are in any doubt about any of these areas, take the customer journey, reviewing all potential routes; and encourage your team to do the same, as they may well notice things that you have become oblivious to.
The way your guests perceive you before they arrive and the welcome they receive will be a key factor in influencing the overall guest experience. A poor perception is likely to cause them to pick fault with everything, looking for confirmation of their first impression.
Always remember you only have one chance to make that first impression. Make sure it’s a good one.
The welcome is just one of the topics being covered on the forthcoming free interview series How to Give Your Hotel a Competitive Edge.