Creepy Stairwells, Ghastly Garages and Eerie Elevators.... Neglected Nightmares!

By Roberta Nedry President & Founder, Hospitality Excellence, Inc. | September 30, 2018

Dark, dismal and dirty stairwells. Parking garages that are gross! Elevators that are extremely eerie! Well, it is almost Halloween, so these may seem appropriate and in season, BUT these are not amusement park novelties. They are actually part of your hotels, your businesses and your environments all year long-YUCK!

I am constantly amazed by the experiences in beautiful hotel lobbies, impeccable office buildings and delicious restaurants that come to a screeching halt when you enter one of these backstage areas for the same high-class setting. Why, oh why are these areas relegated to be the stepchildren of the establishment, the neglected experiences, the ones begging and needing attention? And yet, guests, your customers, go into these areas ALL THE TIME.

Consider the stairs in any hotel or building. You start in the lobby or exquisite hallway, open the beautiful clean door and then SCREECH!! You are in a cement encrusted vacuum with filthy stairs, railings that probably hold more germs than you can imagine, failing fluorescent lighting, walls with strange stains on them and more…. CREEPY!  And yet, your guests use the stairs often if they want more exercise, have a fire drill, want an elevator alternative or just need another way out. Why would we care so much about their experience INSIDE our hospitality settings and not care about this one extension and appendage of the property? And what about employees who often take the stairs? Are they not worth a clean and pleasant walking experience as they go to and fro? What does this say about the true essence of the building and philosophy of the management team? "We care about everywhere you go EXCEPT if you go up or down the stairs…then you are on your own!!"

One poignant memory is being with my son's science team at a major South-eastern conference hotel with beautiful gardens, landscape and lobbies. One of the team projects was to solve detective like scenarios and analyze substances that might be at the scene of a crime. In preparation for their competition, they went around the hotel to analyze undefined materials. They ended up in the stairwell and found splatter spots of some type of liquid on the walls. They analyzed it and for ratings purposes, I cannot state the result, but I leave your imaginations to consider what it might have been... A rather sobering result for some young teenagers to discover and ponder…in a stairwell. EEK! Creepy! How could no one be checking for this….and cleaning it at the very least? After all, this is a top property with guests from all over the world. Is this the impression and impact they want to make? Check out the action in the stairwells??

What about parking garages? Why must the elevator to level "P" be Poor, Pathetic and possibly Paranormal in any way? Once again, notice how the shadows and low lighting become more ominous. Areas of neglect seem more apparent whether it's lighting, trash cans, signage or cigarette ashtrays. Doorknobs seem spooky. And, if there is a barrier that must raise on the way out, a ticket retrieval machine or an actual parking valet, are they appealing and clean looking in any way or inspiring a desire for a quick getaway from the filth?

Could the bar that raises up and down look better, be cleaner or even be painted in an interesting way? Safety is important but making guests feel good in their last impression moments is also important. What about the machine where you push a button and submit your ticket? Must you submit to germs as well? Could a nice thank you message be posted as you do? Could the machine reflect the design and personality of the hotel or business and especially be polished clean at all times? Think about Walt Disney's example…every single trashcan and sign were assigned to the art department to ensure the theme of magic and engagement was EVERYWHERE and at every touchpoint. Custodial teams were always on duty to ensure cleanliness at every touchpoint and understand WHY that's important in the guest experience journey.

Slimy stairs, grimy corners encrusted with dirt, filthy walls and untouchable railings…REALLY?
A scary and not so scary example. A drive through with trash in smelling distance of each driver and a thoughtful, clean backstage trash receptacle
Dirty, fingerprinted doors and walls, left over cigarette butts, rusted signs= unwelcome, scary feeling!
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Coming up in June 2019...

Sales & Marketing: Selling Experiences

There are innumerable strategies that Hotel Sales and Marketing Directors employ to find, engage and entice guests to their property, and those strategies are constantly evolving. A breakthrough technology, pioneering platform, or even a simple algorithm update can cause new trends to emerge and upend the best laid plans. Sales and marketing departments must remain agile so they can adapt to the ever changing digital landscape. As an example, the popularity of virtual reality is on the rise, as 360 interactive technologies become more mainstream. Chatbots and artificial intelligence are also poised to become the next big things, as they take guest personalization to a whole new level. But one sales and marketing trend that is currently resulting in major benefits for hotels is experiential marketing - the effort to deliver an experience to potential guests. Mainly this is accomplished through the creative use of video and images, and by utilizing what has become known as User Generated Content. By sharing actual personal content (videos and pictures) from satisfied guests who have experienced the delights of a property, prospective guests can more easily imagine themselves having the same experience. Similarly, Hotel Generated Content is equally important. Hotels are more than beds and effective video presentations can tell a compelling story - a story about what makes the hotel appealing and unique. A video walk-through of rooms is essential, as are video tours in different areas of a hotel. The goal is to highlight what makes the property exceptional, but also to show real people having real fun - an experience that prospective guests can have too. The June Hotel Business Review will report on some of these issues and strategies, and examine how some sales and marketing professionals are integrating them into their operations.