Whenever I am working alongside real estate developers or non-hotel background persons, in developing new hospitality projects; I always get asked, What should be the check-in process? What are the most important things to focus on? How can we delight the guests upon arrival? Here are the top five things that in my opinion make the arrival experience memorable. Remember, this experience is the most important one because it sets the tone for the guests’ entire stay.
Smooth, Quick and Efficient Check In Process
One thing that Shangri-la Hotels drill down all their employees is empathising with guests. And this is a very important learning that I took from my experience working with the brand. The arriving guests have generally travelled for hours or days to get to your property, and deserve a quick check-in. However, there are barriers to how quick this process can be. These can be classified as regulatory requirements, hotel standards and dependence on IT systems. Managing these processes is therefore vital in ensuring the right information is collected as quickly and as efficiently as possible. Some hotels provide express check-ins, others assist in-room check-ins. What steps you undertake largely depend on your organisation, but being smooth, quick and efficient is the key.
Finding the Room
The second part of the hotel guests’ journey, is finding the hotel room. In case of hotels offering concierge service, this may be easier as the team member knows their way around the hotel and can bring the guests to their rooms quickly. However, in places where there is no concierge, it is important that the rooms are easy to find. Guests can get really exasperated in hotels with more than one building or with rooms that are not numbered using the floor number (for instance room 11, which is not on first floor). Clear markings, and hotel standards that require explaining the way to the room at check-in can be useful in avoiding these problems.
Entry to the Room
As many of the guests will tell you, they arrive at the room to find either they were issued a wrong key and / or the key didn’t work. This is another common error that can cause the guests a lot of grief. Having to leave your luggage (in case of no concierge) in the corridors poses a risk, additionally carrying everything back to the reception is a gruesome task. Ensuring the right key is issued is therefore very important.
Exceeding Guest Expectations
It is important to not just meet the guest expectations but to exceed them at each and every time. This is an opportunity for brands to capture return guests. Simple things like having complimentary bottles of water within sight as soon as the guest arrives into the room, can really have a positive impact. Additionally, arriving to a clean well made room is vital to the success of the hotel. This is a minimum requirement and the amount of attention to detail has a direct relationship with exceeding guest expectation.
Finally, knowing what’s the next thing the guest will do after entering the room, can really help hoteliers exceed guest expectations. Will the guest plop themselves on the sofa? will they lie down on the bed? will they grab the TV remote control? or will they use the bathroom? These are probably the common things guests do as soon as the room door is shut. Some also explore around the room and others get started with unpacking. Knowing these behavioural traits and providing for them, such as a clutter free sofa, bed, clear area for luggage racks, visible remote control, visible room service menus (if applicable) and other small details can really add to guest satisfaction in the first few minutes of being in the room.
What in your experience were the most important things that improved your stay, right from the arrival? How can hotels be more empathising at arrival? What do you do as soon as the concierge leaves and you close the door for the first time? Do you jump on the bed?
Do let me know, comment below.
Image: Hyatt Regency Washington, presents innovation in check-in technology to attract the “Millennials”.