Experience is the heart and driving economic force of our special segment of the hospitality and tourism industry. If we can all agree on this statement, in some form, our success should be based on the ability to expand and elevate the experience of guests as they start the research and booking process, through their time on property, and then as we work to continue a connection that drives repeat bookings and a steady clip of referrals. Of course, this concept is often discussed and the realities of our daily lives have a way of creating barriers to steady, ongoing development.
We posed the following question at a recent gathering of Select Registry owners and operators at the Association of Lodging Professionals Conference and Marketplace:
What was the best thing you did in 2022 to elevate the guest experience?
While the answers were varied, they reflected the need to evolve or else be judged against properties far inferior to the ranks of the independent and established Inns, B&Bs, and unique lodging properties that define our industry. Four answers rung out amongst the list that may inspire you to plan or reconsider your next improvements and the impact they will have on your guests wellbeing in the short and long term.
Property #1 upgraded their Wi-Fi.
Even before the so-called age of the mixed business and leisure travel (“Bleisure” being the latest portmanteau to describe this trend), the importance of strong and steady wireless internet connectivity was key. It still boggles the mind that certain hotel chains charge a fee for a signal that supports HD streaming capabilities.
Property #2 gutted and upgraded all 10 of their guest baths.
Notwithstanding the swift return on investment and the ability to command and defend a substantial rate increase, experience in our daily lives starts and ends in a grand soaking tub, spa shower, feet touching radiant heated tile floors, as we ready ourselves for a day of adventure in business or in purely pleasure-seeking pursuits. When was the last time you packed an overnight bag and laid out your toiletries to embody your guest’s experience in the space you are recommending to them in the highest possible terms? Considered improvements to your guest rooms and bathrooms should occur on a regular schedule. A particularly successful, long term owner renovated rooms on a three year schedule and, when the time came to sell, the focus on business growth supported the price they desired and left little room for potential purchasers to nickel and dime.
Property #3 added a complimentary guest ice cream fridge.
How many of us constant travelers seek “the best” and “most local” food-driven experiences? At times this requires significant forethought and planning but, in other cases, owners can bring the local hits into their respective properties and, in doing so, become true ambassadors to their communities and provide the best and most local way to stay. This was a practice of a particular hotelier during the pandemic who saw the need to comfort guests with a famous local ice cream brand. We have also seen this play out in myriad Vermont Inns that offer hyper local craft beers, ciders, and health tonics on an honor system. How do these properties afford such complimentary or trust-based amenities and services? Consider the overall quality of the experience you are offering, the cost (rates) required to support your ongoing work and the constant improvement to the asset, and the fact that your guests should, in the best case, be clearly aligned with your brand. These key ingredients should provide you with ample opportunity to enhance your brand and its connection to your local market while working to improve the top and bottom line.
Property #4 shared a guest preference survey.
When your best laid plans for improvements and procedure for satisfying guests are not landing as they should, your past, current, and future guests are your greatest resource. Enlightened hospitality experiences are, at their core, created by guests feeling seen and heard at every stage of guests booking and experiencing your property and individual approach to hospitality. Your recognition of their position as travel experts in their own right will create an even stronger sense of connection and should provide you with data to inform your ongoing enhancements and support your success personally and professionally.
Now, since we presume our readers include some of the most driven and capable operators in this industry, we will pose this question to you:
What improvements or enhancements are you considering as you work to elevate the guest experience at your property?
Thanks for listening and sharing your thoughts that will carry us all into the future,