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The hospitality industry is big business in the United States. In 2018, the industry made $218 billion in the United States alone.
There is huge competition to attract guests between large hotel and motel chains, beds and breakfasts, independent hotels, and vacation rentals.
To beat the competition and attract guests, hotels need to offer more than just cable television. Travel is much more common than it was in the past, and guests expect more than ever from their hotels, including:
If you are a hotel proprietor and are looking for new ways to bring clients to your property, read on. We’ll tell you our five hospitality must-haves, and you can decide if you can implement them to upgrade your hotel.
Once upon a time, all you needed to attract guests to stay in your hotel was cable TV and perhaps a mini-fridge. Travel was expensive, and tourists weren’t as sophisticated in their wants and needs when it came to hotel amenities as they are today. Over the past couple of decades, though, long-distance travel has become more common, and guests want more from their hotels.
Hotel owners and managers need to reassess what they offer guests that stay at their properties. There are different types of hotels, and what suits a luxury hotel in a downtown location might not suit a budget hotel at an airport. When making changes, the important thing to remember is that guests expect a certain level of hospitality, no matter the hotel.
Guests today are looking for an experience that will make their hotel visit memorable and low-stress. While there are hundreds of things you can do to improve your hotel’s hospitality, focusing on the five must-haves will attract new guests to your property and create return customers.
No matter where your hotel is located, whether it is in the city center or on an exit off the interstate, your guests may have traveled a long distance to get to you. They will probably be tired and will want a simple check-in process that gets them into their hotel room as quickly as possible. There are several things you can do to help your guests check-in.
Have you ever stepped into a hotel lobby and been confused about where you need to go? This can be especially true for large hotels with an active lobby. Some hotels have bars, cafes, and shops in their lobbies, and all these things can make it hard for guests to find their way to the reception area.
Help your guests find their way to the reception area with clear signposting. Don’t put your check-in area in the furthest corner of the lobby, but make it obvious as soon as people enter the building. Make it stand out from other services in the area, so guests know to head there first.
As we’ve mentioned, when guests are checking in, they want it to be a quick process so they can go to their rooms. Some people want the personal experience from working with a live person, and others appreciate using technology to check-in. Have multiple check-in options for guests:
Hotel chains are better situated to offer online check-in for guests, but it’s a worthwhile investment even for independent hotels. Hotel guests are technologically savvy, and they expect the convenience of an advanced check-in process.
At its heart, working at hotel reception is a customer service job. Therefore, it is important to hire staff members that enjoy working with people. Hotel staff should recognize that every guest is different and will require a different level of service. Some guests expect help with their bags and getting to their rooms, while others just want to check-in and be left alone.
While it is not always an option for more budget-friendly hotels in remote areas, hotel management should strive to hire staff with specialty hospitality training. Several universities and colleges have degrees in hospitality, and there are also specialty training institutes across the country. Training will prepare employees for all scenarios.
If you don’t have specialty trained staff in your applicant pool, remember that the large chains offer training opportunities. Arrange for your staff to attend these training sessions, and you’ll benefit from their expanded hospitality knowledge.
The check-in process is the first experience guests have with your hotel. Start their visit off right by warmly welcoming them. Greet them by their name and make them feel special. Even if your hotel has hundreds of guests at any one time, it’s important to have them feel as if their stay is your number one priority.
After guests check-in, they will usually head straight to their room to get settled in before attending to whatever brought them to your location. The room will make the biggest impression on the guests, so it is important to make sure that it is welcoming and clean. There are several amenities that guests now expect in their hotel rooms, no matter the type of hotel.
This is a simple amenity to include in a hotel room, but one that all guests appreciate. All you need to do is provide an electric kettle or small coffee pot, offer a few:
Guests can make themselves a hot beverage whenever they feel like it.
Some hotel owners might feel that this is unnecessary considering the wide range of coffee shops available outside the hotel or even in the hotel lobby. Remember, though, guests might want a cup of coffee in the morning before they get dressed or need a cup of herbal tea to help them sleep. Being able to do this without leaving the hotel room is nice.
Luxury hotels might want to take the tea and coffee station a step further by equipping each room with an individual serving coffee machine, such as a Keurig or a Nespresso. Finally, guests appreciate it when the hotel offers guests free bottled water. This is something that some chains offer rewards members, but it is an inexpensive way to please all guests.
Although hospitality is more than having a TV in the room, guests do expect there to be one. Oftentimes, hotel TVs are difficult to use, and the reception and channel selections are not great. Upgrade your TV service to provide your guests with easy-to-use TVs. Make it part of the housekeeping checklist to see if the remote controls have batteries that are working.
While your guests are likely to spend most of their time outside of their room, they will probably want to watch TV when they are in it. Make watching TV an easy experience that feels just like home.
In addition to a coffee and tea station, a must-have for all guest rooms is a mini-fridge and a microwave. Guests will eat out at restaurants when visiting your location and will likely end up with leftovers they don’t want to waste. A fridge and microwave will allow them to store their leftover food and heat it up to eat later.
Additionally, if your guests are traveling with infants and toddlers, there’s a good chance they will need the fridge to store breastmilk and formula and will need to prepare their children’s food in the microwave. Hotel managers should also remember that their guests may have a wide variety of medical conditions and may have medication that needs to be refrigerated.
Some hotels like to include a minibar in their guestrooms as a convenience to their guests and also as an income generator. If your hotel does this, make sure to leave some empty space in the minibar for guests to use for their own belongings. Guests find it extremely frustrating when they open the minibar and find it completely full and unusable for their medicines or leftover dinner.
It is standard for hotels to include certain toiletries for their guests, such as soap and shampoo. Hotels that want to wow their guests choose to take amenities to the next level. Upgrade your toiletry offerings by including:
Of course, you shouldn’t need to provide full-size toiletries, but imagine if you get to your hotel late at night after a long journey to find you’ve forgotten your toothbrush. Finding one in the toiletry basket would be like finding gold.
Bigger hotel chains often have partnerships with well-known brands, like Crabtree and Evelyn or L’Occitane. While that might not be possible for an independent hotel, look to your local community and see if there is a small business that would be able to provide toiletries for your hotel. You’d be contributing to your community while giving your guests a one-of-a-kind product.
Guests travel with many electronics these days, and the last thing they want is to have trouble charging them. Outlets and USB ports are some of the most important features of a guest room these days. If your hotel has not been updated to include more outlets, put furniture and lamps with built-in outlets and USB ports to give your guests more than enough electricity.
Bed linens and towels are important to the guest experience. Providing high-quality and soft linens lets the guest know that you take the comfort seriously and gives the impression of a high level of cleanliness. Have different pillow types available so guests can choose the one that works best for them.
Take an inventory of your property’s linens and towels regularly. Replace any torn sheets immediately. It doesn’t take long for towels to get a workout and become like sandpaper. Upgrading to higher quality towels will save money in the end because they last longer, and your guests will enjoy using them.
While the room is the most important part of any hotel stay, guests also remember their interactions with hotel staff. They meet the reception staff when they check-in, but they are by no means the only people working to make their stay a memorable one. All aspects of guest services should work together to keep guests happy.
Nothing will make a guest more unhappy than a dirty guest room. While housekeepers may be the most overlooked department in a hotel, their work is essential to keeping the business running. It is important to invest in good housekeepers who:
What guests want most from housekeeping, aside from beds being made and carpets being vacuumed, is for them to observe their requests. If they put do not disturb signs on the doors, they don’t want to be disturbed. Many hotels claim to have eco-conscious laundry procedures, but housekeepers often overlook this. These things are important to guests.
While turnover can be high in housekeeping due to low wages and high stress, investing in your housekeeping department is worth the time. Train your housekeepers, so they have all the skills they need. Promote from within to keep the most talented working for you. A skilled housekeeping department is what every hotel needs.
If your hotel caters to many foreign visitors or guests not familiar with the area, a concierge is an excellent person to add to your guest services. The concierge is available to help guests with all of their requests, such as find theater tickets or make restaurant reservations. Concierge services often have connections that regular people don’t have.
The stress of planning what to do on vacation is one reason people don’t take them. The concierge can help relieve some of the guests’ burden by making suggestions for sites to visit and can connect guests to tour guides.
If your hotel doesn’t have the budget for a concierge, your staff should take the time to become familiar with the local tourist sites and popular restaurants. If a guest should ask for a recommendation or directions, the staff member will be able to help, and your guest will be happy.
Even the best-trained staff can run into problems with guests which only a manager can resolve. There should always be a manager on the premises, and ideally, they should be on the floor greeting guests and observing the running of the hotel. The onsite manager should not be closed off in an office. Guests want to know if they have an issue, the manager is available and ready to help.
While hotels’ guests are most likely staying at your property while they tour your city or attend to business, that doesn’t mean that they don’t want your hotel to have onsite amenities that they can enjoy. Some of these services will be included in the room’s price, but others are excellent ways of generating extra income for your business.
Offering a wide variety of food and drink options will entice guests to eat in your hotel rather than spend their money at outside establishments. While smaller properties might offer a continental breakfast, larger hotels can have full restaurants and bars, as well as a lobby coffee shop.
Your guests are not all the same, and you want to make sure you have a variety of choices for different budgets and tastes. A fine dining option will attract a certain kind of customer, while other people are looking for a hipper establishment. If your property is not large enough for more than one restaurant, take a look at who your guests are and choose based on that.
Rooftop bars and restaurants are especially popular during warm evenings and will draw not only hotel guests but local residents as well. If your building’s roof is appropriate for this kind of establishment, it is well worth the investment. This is especially true if you are close to a landmark that people will want to see from above.
Finally, you should offer room service. Sometimes guests are tired and don’t want to make an effort to go out to breakfast or dinner. Room service is an excellent way to keep your guests fed and happy. Just make sure that this is simple to order by telephone or app, not through a clunky TV ordering system.
As more and more people become interested in their health and physical fitness, gyms and fitness centers are a huge selling point for hotels. This should be included in the hotel room’s price, though you can create add-ons that cost money.
Make sure to have a variety of machines and equipment to suit all sorts of workout styles. Some guests will only be interested in running on the treadmill, while others might want to do a free-weight workout. Luxury hotels should invest in state-of-the-art equipment that guests cannot get at home
Another way to attract guests to your hotel is to offer fitness classes. After a long day in meetings or walking around the city, guests will be interested in a revitalizing yoga class. If you offer classes, you can also offer memberships to your gym to non-guests, expanding your revenue stream.
Swimming pools are a big must-have for both families and single travelers, especially if your property is in a warm climate. Traveling with children is difficult, and heading to the pool for few hours is important for families.
Swimming pools are expensive to maintain, and there are liability issues attached to them, but there are customers that look specifically for hotels with pools. If your property doesn’t have a pool, then you are losing customers to the competition.
Pools are not practical for all hotel properties, especially older and smaller hotels and hotels in city centers. If you do have the option of putting a pool in, though, it can be a worthwhile investment that attracts a completely new customer base.
Until relatively recently, spas were considered an expensive indulgence that only women used as an occasional treat. However, as the wellness industry has exploded, people are making spa visits a regular part of their self-care. This has made the spa industry highly profitable overall and an essential amenity for higher-end hotels.
In addition to guests looking for ways to take care of themselves while traveling, spas can be an attraction for special groups, like wedding and bachelorette parties. If your hotel caters to the adventurous types, like cyclists and skiers, offering massage services alone is worthwhile.
Popular spa services that will attract guests to your hotel include:
Even if you don’t have the space or budget to install a full-service spa, consider offering in-room treatments as well as manicures, pedicures, and hair and makeup styling for guests heading out to special events.
Getting to and from your hotel is just as important as the stay for many guests. Think about who your guests are, how they will be arriving at your hotel and their transportation needs.
If your hotel is off the highway or in a remote location, your guests will most likely be driving and will need parking. While each state and city has its own parking requirements for hotels, it is important to provide a sufficient number of parking spaces for your hotel. For example, in Salt Lake City, hotels are required to provide one parking space for every two guest rooms.
When guests park at your hotel, they expect their cars to be secure. Make sure that there is adequate lighting in the parking lots to deter would-be thieves and install surveillance cameras. If possible, assign a staff member to drive around the lot regularly and keep an eye on the guests’ vehicles.
Some city hotels don’t have large parking lots or any parking at all. If your property does not have onsite parking, investigate partnerships with nearby commercial lots. See if you can offer a reduced rate for guests. This goes a long way for guests who are driving but don’t want to hassle with street parking or spend a lot on commercial lots.
If your property is near an airport, a shuttle is a must-have. Guests usually choose airport hotels when they have early morning flights and need to return rental cars. Airport shuttles take the stress away from needing to get to the airport on time for their flight. Coordinate with flight times, so all your guests are able to take advantage of the shuttle.
Whether your guests are business travelers or tourists, they are going to need multiple options for getting around your city. While walking and public transportation are popular choices, your guests are also going to want taxis and rideshares for when they are going to distant locations or are in a hurry.
Coordinate with local taxi companies to set up a taxi stand at your hotel, so your guests don’t need to wait. You can also designate an area for rideshare drivers. Some hotels have a light or button that can call a taxi when a guest needs one. No matter how you make drivers available to guests, it is an important amenity that guests will expect.
While bicycle rentals fall more into the recreation category, if your hotel is in a bicycle-friendly city or a beachside location, your guests will appreciate the option to get around by bike. Make sure also to offer helmets and other safety equipment.
Offering amenities and services to your guests is a great way to attract them to your hotel, but you want to make sure that those amenities live up to your guest’s expectations. A good hotel experience will inspire your guests to return and to recommend your property to others. Your hotel’s success depends on how satisfied your guests are, and the more you offer, the happier they will be.