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How to differentiate yourself from check-in
August 27 2013

By creating unique experiences with simple service initiatives, hoteliers can make their property the preferred accommodation in town.

Highlights
  • Beyond the basic guest deliverables there remain a number of service-related offerings that can distinguish your hotel.
  • Hoteliers in branded boxes can differentiate themselves just as much as someone in an independent property.
  • Lobby-centric activities enhance the check-in and check-out process.

As hotel owners and operators, we know that an efficient check-in process, a clean room and a quality staff are must haves. They are the basics a guest expects to experience when they walk through the front door. Without them, the chances of a return visit are greatly diminished.

Beyond the basic guest deliverables there remain a number of service- and attribute-related offerings that can distinguish your property. These can and will enhance the guest experience and increase the likelihood your hotel is the preferred choice in town.

They are not complicated, yet many of them require strict focus and consistent execution. They include:

  • acknowledging a guest by name at the front desk;
  • inquiring whether guests have special needs; or
  • asking if you can confirm a restaurant reservation.
Thomas Conran
 

As hoteliers, we must go beyond the basic arrival question of, “Are you checking in?” With luggage in tow, guests deserve a better arrival experience during this most critical point of check-in.

Creating unique experiences
By taking your actions to another level and creating unique experiences you can leave a lasting positive impression on the minds of your guests. All clients look forward to be acknowledged. As such, your associates must continue to ensure guests are treated as more than numbers.

Many people say hoteliers at independent properties have more flexibility and are able to think outside of the box in this area. I disagree. Myriad possibilities exist for properties of all types, sizes and brands to be exceptional experience-makers. The good news is the initiatives don’t need to be large-scale or costly to be effective.

Additionally, think like a guest and develop strategies to further support your unique offerings. Examples include non-alcoholic drinks being offered at check-in, an artist painting in your lobby or inviting local musicians to perform. These lobby-centric activities enhance both the check-in and check-out experience and serve to position your property as less a part of a homogenized environment and much more of a special and unique place. 

Exceed expectations
Programs and service mantras like this create experiences that exceed normal guest expectations. They make your hotel a destination rather than simply a place to stay. As a result, first-time guests become repeat guests, and those repeat guests become your biggest fans.

Of course, planning and executing these types of things require an investment of time and dollars. You will need to meet certain requirements and work within the basic framework standards as established by your brand partners.

This will all be worth it when your guest says, “I was unexpectedly surprised and treated like an individual when I stayed at your hotel.” When this occurs you have just earned a frequent guest and, more importantly, a great promoter and spokesperson.

Tom Conran serves as a principal of Greenwood Hospitality Group, where he is responsible for strategic investments and third-party hotel management assignments. Mr. Conran has more than 30 years of hospitality experience in the management, finance and real estate sectors. Prior to Greenwood, Mr. Conran served as VP of Business Development for Richfield Hospitality. Mr. Conran earned a bachelor’s degree from Keene State College in Keene, New Hampshire. Mr. Conran was a founding member of Meetings Planner International in Hartford, CT, and he currently serves on the Owners’ Advisory Board of Doubletree Hotels.

The opinions expressed in this column do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Hotel News Now or its parent company, STR and its affiliated companies. Columnists published on this site are given the freedom to express views that may be controversial, but our goal is to provoke thought and constructive discussion within our reader community. Please feel free to comment or contact an editor with any questions or concerns.

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