How to Create a Welcoming Landscape

By Ken Hutcheson President, U.S. Lawns | May 14, 2017

Whether a guest is staying at your hotel for business or pleasure, their first impression can be a lasting one. Even before they walk into your hotel's lobby, they've already started to form their opinion of your hotel – whether that was based on a visit to your website or as they drove up to your hotel. Just as the messaging on your website helps to set expectations and provides your guests with a glimpse into your commitment to making their stay at your hotel an enjoyable one, so does the appearance of your landscape. Every touchpoint the guest has with your hotel impacts his or her customer experience, making it even more critical that those encounters reflect your brand.

As every hotelier knows, guests will notice even the smallest details. Did the overall look of the property match the expectations of the guest? That ties into the hotel's brand. Were there any areas that the guest could envision coming back to use on another visit for a different purpose – like a meeting, event, or even a wedding? That speaks to the overall functionality of the space. Was there an attractive mixture of plants in the beds? Were they pruned and maintained nicely, or did they look like they were dying? That's related to the overall aesthetic of the landscape. Were the parking lots clearly marked? Were the sidewalks free of debris and hazards? Were the walkways lit properly? Those are safety considerations that guests might not automatically look for when they enter a property, but they certainly notice them if there is something missing, wrong, or out of place.

While it is important to install attractive, functional and safe landscapes, it is imperative that they be maintained properly. This not only supports the hotel's brand but it also protects the investment that the hotelier has made on his or her landscape. General managers will often ask their grounds keeper for help with enhancements or improvements to their landscapes. But providing a welcoming landscape goes beyond putting a bow on a tree – it includes staying true to your hotel's brand, offering spaces that have more than one function, adding color to your landscape, and ensuring the safety of your guests. It can be the difference of turning a first-time guest into a repeat guest.

The following is a list of things to consider when making your hotel's landscape more welcoming for your guests.

Keep Your Hotel's Brand in Mind

It is important to align your landscape's design with your hotel's brand. Every hotel has a brand that communicates their standards, mission, and level of service to the public. For example, an inexpensive hotel located off the interstate, isn't likely to have an expansive green turf and colorful flowers at the porte-cochere. Nor will they have Chinese vases in the lobby. It's not who they are and it would send a mixed message to their guests. On the other hand, these are the types of things guests would expect at a more expensive hotel, and if they were missing, they would certainly be noticed. Staying true to your brand involves setting and maintaining your guests' expectations, and delivering a consistent brand experience for them.

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Coming up in March 2019...

Human Resources: An Era of Transition

Traditionally, the human resource department administers five key areas within a hotel operation - compliance, compensation and benefits, organizational dynamics, selection and retention, and training and development. However, HR professionals are also presently involved in culture-building activities, as well as implementing new employee on-boarding practices and engagement initiatives. As a result, HR professionals have been elevated to senior leadership status, creating value and profit within their organization. Still, they continue to face some intractable issues, including a shrinking talent pool and the need to recruit top-notch employees who are empowered to provide outstanding customer service. In order to attract top-tier talent, one option is to take advantage of recruitment opportunities offered through colleges and universities, especially if they have a hospitality major. This pool of prospective employees is likely to be better educated and more enthusiastic than walk-in hires. Also, once hired, there could be additional training and development opportunities that stem from an association with a college or university. Continuing education courses, business conferences, seminars and online instruction - all can be a valuable source of employee development opportunities. In addition to meeting recruitment demands in the present, HR professionals must also be forward-thinking, anticipating the skills that will be needed in the future to meet guest expectations. One such skill that is becoming increasingly valued is “resilience”, the ability to “go with the flow” and not become overwhelmed by the disruptive influences  of change and reinvention. In an era of transition—new technologies, expanding markets, consolidation of brands and businesses, and modifications in people's values and lifestyles - the capacity to remain flexible, nimble and resilient is a valuable skill to possess. The March Hotel Business Review will examine some of the strategies that HR professionals are employing to ensure that their hotel operations continue to thrive.