During the past two weeks, I’ve been offering up expense-shaving suggestions. We chatted about all the stuff owners pay for, that most guests simply don’t care about. All things that are wasting money that could be better applied elsewhere.
The response to these articles was so strong I started thinking about perks guests really crave. We’re flipping the equation and thinking about what are those items guests are really passionate about. I asked my trusty social media connections what they thought, too. And, boy, did they have a lot to say. In one of the most viral posts I have seen this year, people loved speaking up on this topic.
Upgrades, Upgrades, Upgrades
People are passionate about upgrades. It’s a fantastic way to wow both loyal and new guests. There isn’t a single individual who doesn’t love this one. Well, maybe Grumpy Cat. Other than that, we all love free upgrades. The best part: It doesn’t cost demonstrably more to provide someone with a nicer room that was probably going to go empty anyway.
Road warriors—or more accurately, air warriors—celebrate the exhilarating moment when a first-class upgrade is secured. And I’ve seen many a grown man bawl like a baby at being the first loser on the "you missed out on the upgrade list." To be fair, by many a grown man, I mean me.
Upgrades can be an extremely valuable tool to boost loyalty, cheer guests up and get them sharing social media moments with their community of followers. Think, “I just checked into this amazing hotel and you’ll never believe the room they gave me!”
Early Check In/Late Check Out
Some hotels are working overtime to get guests to hate them. How? By charging for the opportunity to check in early, or stay a bit late. I’m looking at you Caesars Entertainment. Guests already know hotels have it rigged to get guests in and out in less than 24 hours. With official check-in times as late at 4pm and as early as 10am in some places, it’s unrealistic to think guests won’t want to be in the room during those hours on check in or out days.
But if the hotel is not in a sold out situation, smart hoteliers should absolutely allow customers access to that empty and already clean room whenever they arrive within reason. As for departures, Starwood allows 4pm check-out for Gold level members and above. That is insanely awesome for frequent travelers that have a flight later in the day. Your customers despise having no home-base for that awkward few hours before they hit the airport. Let them stay when possible, and it’ll make them less price sensitive the next time they’re in town.
Meanwhile, Standard Hotels, in July, launched a check-in-anytime service it calls “Standard Time.”
Water, Water, Everywhere
Here’s a shocker: People like to drink water. Folks kind of need to drink it to live, so it’s a wee bit important. But something happened in the 1990s, society decided that straight up tap water is more of a disaster than the new Suicide Squad movie (it’s horrid!). People want bottled or filtered water now. Fortunately, it’s a nearly free way to make guests happy.
Conversely, those $5.99 and higher-priced bottles of water sold in rooms are obnoxious. We’ve already talked about things that make guests hate you, and overcharging for water needs to be on that list. However, complimentary water makes guests love you. Plus, as my mom always said, a well-hydrated guest is a happy guest.
And you needn’t have pre-bottled water either. At EVEN Hotels, for example, there’s complimentary filtered and fruit-infused water. Plus, on every floor there is a fresh water dispenser, too. That’s the right way to do it!
Agree with these perks as guest getting winners? What perks do your guests care most about? Email me at [email protected] or on Twitter and Instagram @TravelingGlenn. Or join the conversation with me on Facebook at www.facebook.com/glenn.haussman.
Glenn Haussman is editor-at-large for HOTEL MANAGEMENT. His views expressed are not necessarily those of HOTEL MANAGEMENT, its parent company Questex Media Group, and/or its subsidiaries.