What Do Vacationers Really Want In A Hotel
Travel in 2013 has certainly changed since the days when your parents and grandparents went on vacation. In 2013, thanks to technology and the Internet, we have so much more travel information available than previous generations of vacationers. We can go to sites like Priceline and Expedia to find a hotel room or book a flight. We can go to TripAdvisor and read hotel reviews before we make reservations.
Back 50 years ago, when parents were planning a summer vacation, they could go down to their local travel agency, leaf through some brochures and have their travel agent make all of the arrangements. While you can still do that in 2013, most people take advantage of an Online Travel Agency (OTA) to plan and/or make their travel arrangements.
Although the methods of booking a hotel in 2015 may be different from the methods back in 1963, vacationers still want many of the same things when they check into a hotel.
Getting to their destination and relaxing
It can be physically exhausting just getting to your destination. On the day you are leaving on your vacation, you may start out packing before the sun rises and not check in to your hotel until the sun has set.
If you are a vacationer flying from New York to San Francisco on a 9:00 am flight, you must be prepared to leave early enough to get to Kennedy or La Guardia at least two hours before your flight. Even though you are very excited about the great time you are going to have taking a tour of Alcatraz, visiting a winery and getting a first hand look at the Google Complex in Mountain View, getting there is stressful.
If everything goes according to schedule, and it usually does not, the alarm clock will go off at about 4:00 am, you’ll stumble out of bed about a half hour later, and it will be after five before you have showered and dressed. In the next hour, you’ll have to make some coffee, finish packing and hope that your ride to the airport shows up on time.
Once you get to the airport and follow the standard operating procedure, you get to board a plane and spend five hours in a metal tube, squeezed between two other people and try to fall asleep before your legs do.
When your plane lands, you have to walk about a half mile to claim your baggage and then figure out what you are going to do for three hours before check-in time at your hotel. While you gain three hours as a vacationer going on a transcontinental flight, your body does not benefit. Even though the clock says it is noon, your stomach says it is 3:00 pm and you are starving.
Assuming you are able to handle the long travel day, you figure you will spend the remaining hours relaxing at your hotel. Your 2013 vacation will begin the next day, but now you just want a comfortable bed and a cold drink. So, how can a hotelier satisfy the wants and needs of a vacationer in 2013?
Early check-in times
It is hard to find a place that will let you check-in before three in the afternoon. People who fly great distances or drive all day to get to your property are tired whether they arrive at noon or at six in the evening. While policy may be for a late afternoon check-in, if a room is ready, give the guest the keys when he or she arrives and let them relax.
Understandably, a room may not be ready for a new guest because the previous guest just checked-out and housekeeping has not had a chance to clean and prepare the room. What is not acceptable is making a guest wait beyond the scheduled check-in time. Good management and good customer service will go out of their way to make the guest as comfortable as possible when they have to wait.
They can hold their baggage at the front desk. They can offer them some drinks and refreshments while they wait in the lobby. If a room won’t be ready for several hours, a conscientious and caring manager can pay for the guest’s lunch or dinner to compensate them for the inconvenience.
A great free breakfast
They say that the way to a man’s (or women’s) heart is through the stomach. Vacationers will covet a restaurant-quality breakfast that includes a wide assortment of freshly baked breads and pastries, eggs, bacon, potatoes, premium coffee and seasonal fruit.
Help when they need it
Be it some extra towels in their room or directions to a good restaurant for dinner, a guest wants to be able to call the front desk and get help or advice. They don’t want to hear that you will notify housekeeping, but rather, that the towels are on their way.
Many guests consider free Wi-Fi as one of the most important factors in their choice of where to stay. In 2013, almost everyone carries a smartphone or a tablet device and needs to be able to go on Facebook to send pictures and tell all their friends about the great time they are having.
A friendly, caring staff
When you are on vacation, you don’t want to deal with grumpy people or listen to the front desk clerk’s tragic story of how she broke up with her boyfriend and is having a bad day. It should not only be expected, but part of the job description for anyone working in the hospitality industry, to have a smile on your face and go out of your way to accommodate your guests.
Guests feel better and have a better time when the staff asks them if they had a fun day at Disneyland or how they enjoyed the French restaurant that the hotel manager suggested they try. Guests probably don’t want to share everything with the person behind the front desk, but they do appreciate talking to someone who shows a general interest in their experience while staying at their property.
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