Check-in is the first chance a hotel has to connect with its guests face to face, and some properties are able to provide services at the front desk to ease guests into the premises. Willows Lodge, in the wine country of Woodinville, Wash., greets its hotel guests with a complimentary glass of wine on check-in as a way to tailor the experience to what guests are traveling to the location for.
“On arrival, guests are given a glass of Distant Bay merlot,” said Mike West, director of operations for the hotel. “We chose Distant Bay because it is a local offering that you won’t be able to find on wine lists elsewhere, and if they don’t like wine or are restricted from drinking it due to pregnancy or other concerns we can provide them with cider, or even different choices.”
The most important aspect of this service is that providing Distant Bay is restricted to the front desk unless it is specifically asked for elsewhere on the property. “Having something you can’t find on other wine lists is nice and exclusive, and then guests come and ask for it at dinner, or even purchase a bottle, mostly based on that image.”
When travelers arrive at their destination in Hawaii, the first thing they are traditionally given is a lei. This inexpensive gift exchange from the destination to the traveler helps make the event memorable. While most properties won’t be able to offer wine, they often go out of their way to leave newcomers with something, even if it is just some money off on a meal.
“We have candy bars, drinks and other items stashed behind our front desk for rewards members,” said Ron Gromoll, GM of the Best Western Plus Gateway Grand in Gainesville, Fla. “Guests like to take something away from that first interaction, and even if you give them a coupon for an appetizer or a drink in the hotel restaurant they take a lot out of those interactions.”