Best Practices: Five Landscape Strategies for Improving Your Guest Experience on Hotel Grounds

By Scott B. Brickman CEO, Brickman | October 28, 2008

Among the many challenges for busy hotel executives is trying to develop new ways to improve the guest experience. From complimentary breakfasts to in-room entertainment, the hospitality industry has earned a reputation for identifying market trends and quickly implementing ideas designed to make a guests' stay more comfortable and enjoyable. Whether a vacation destination for families, or a respite for weary road warriors, hotels serve many different purposes but are unified by the commitment to create a positive experience for each guest.

One of the best ways to create a positive guest experience is through the use of smart landscape maintenance. A good way to start thinking about your hotel's landscape is through the eyes of a guest. What do visitors see when they first arrive at your property? Is the grass green and inviting? Are the flowers colorful and do they make an impact? Are trees overgrown and/or obstructing pathways and windows? Providing a fresh and inviting landscape is the best way for your hotel to make a great first impression, and create a positive experience for your guests even before they walk through the doors.

To make the process easier, below are five strategies for hotel executives to consider when thinking about how to enhance the guest experience through landscape maintenance:

1. Have a Plan - First, it is important for hotel executives to consider how the property communicates your brand to your guests. If particular colors are an important part of your corporate image, you need to think about what kinds of plant colors will best compliment your property. Additionally, you should consider the environment in which your property is located. Is it a pastoral country setting or is it more urban and edgy? The answers to these questions will help establish a framework for how to best achieve your landscape maintenance goals. Once you have defined your goals, a simple cost analysis can help determine if keeping an in-house grounds crew or outsourcing to a commercial landscape maintenance provider is right for you. With a plan in place, create performance measures to make sure your landscape maintenance plan remains on track and can continuously meet guest expectations.

2. The Balancing Act - One of the things that makes hotels great is that the guest experience can change with the seasons. After all, a family of skiers visiting a resort during the winter will have a much different set of attitudes and expectations than during a summertime visit. Much like the personality of the hotel, the hotel landscape is seasonal and needs to adjust to changes throughout the year. To that end, it is important to develop a balanced landscape maintenance strategy to ensure that the grounds never appear to be in a state of seasonal transition. Minimize the impact of seasonal transitions by taking a gradual approach to change and by continuously improving your landscape maintenance practices.

3. Outdoor Attractions - It is not uncommon for guests, after enjoying a pleasant dinner or drink in the hotel restaurant, to stroll along the hotel grounds. In fact, many of the best hotels across the country and abroad are paying special attention to how outdoor amenities such as gazebos, lighted walkways and well manicured paths can enhance the guest experience. A special feature in your landscape, such as a butterfly garden or meditation space or even a wedding garden, can become an attraction in itself and greatly enhance the guest's relaxation experience.

Coming up in February 2018...

Social Media: Engagement is Key

There are currently 2.3 billion active users of social media networks and savvy hotel operators have incorporated social media into their marketing mix. There are a few Goliath channels on which one must have a presence (Facebook & Twitter) but there are also several newer upstart channels (Instagram, Snapchat &WeChat, for example) that merit consideration. With its 1.86 billion users, Facebook is a dominant platform where operators can drive brand awareness, facilitate bookings, offer incentives and collect sought-after reviews. Twitter's 284 million users generate 500 million tweets per day, and operators can use its platform for lead generation, building loyalty, and guest interaction. Instagram was originally a small photo-sharing site but it has blown up into a massive photo and video channel. The site can be used to post photos of the hotel property, as well as creating Instagram Stories - personal videos that disappear from the channel after 24 hours. In this regard, Instagram and Snapchat are now in direct competition. WeChat is a Chinese company whose aim is to be the App for Everything - instant messaging, social media, shopping and payment services - all in a single platform. In addition to these channels, blogging continues to be a popular method to establish leadership, enhance reputations, and engage with customers in a direct and personal way. The key to effective use of all social media is to find out where your customers are and then, to the fullest extent possible, engage with them on a personal level. This engagement is what creates a personal connection and sustains brand loyalty. The February Hotel Business Review will explore these issues and examine how some hotels are successfully integrating social media into their operations.