The Customer Experience: How to Make Guests Feel Like They're Getting More for Their Money
By John Ely Senior Vice President of Marketing, Signature Worldwide | April 03, 2010
Have you ever stayed in a luxury hotel and felt that you weren't quite getting your money's worth when it came to service? On the flip side, have you stayed in a limited service property and felt the staff went above and beyond? For me, I have experienced both. In fact, some of my most memorable experiences (the good kind of "memorable," that is) are from those small, not-so-fancy hotels. The bad experiences have sometimes been from the places you'd least expect - where you are supposedly paying for exceptional service.
Nearly 10 years ago, I was traveling to a large conference and staying in a well-known luxury hotel in a major market. I was so excited, as this was going to be my first stay at this landmark property. I expected the royal treatment. To make a long story short, my experience was anything but royal, unless you're talking "royally bad."
The stay was full of service shortfalls, from rude servers and staff to a less-than-clean room to extra charges for everything including Internet service and even the morning paper! The kicker was when I was chased down the hallway by a buffet staffer because I didn't pay for an apple (which, by the way, was apparently $4). It was an honest mistake. My conference buffet (free) was on the lower level and the guest buffet (pay) was on the second level. Still, I was made to feel like a criminal. But at $4 per apple, who's the real crook here?
Conversely, my stays at smaller, lesser known properties have been some of my best experiences. Not long ago, I was staying at a national chain in a midsize market. To be honest, I didn't expect anything special. But much to my surprise, everyone on the staff was very friendly and genuinely seemed to be glad I was staying with them. They treated me like a valued guest - not a nuisance. I still remember the friendly shuttle driver, the upbeat guest services representative, even the general manager welcomed me as he passed me in the lobby. Little things like that go a long way and leave a strong impression.
As a result of today's economy, customers are more likely to seek value rather than luxurious amenities when deciding on a hotel. This is a great opportunity for value properties to snatch up new customers - those who would typically stay at higher-end properties. Yet, the economy will rebound, so you'll want to make sure that you, your staff and your property make the best impression possible in order to gain customers for life.
So, how can you turn a budget property into a four-star experience? Keep reading.