I’m a frequent traveler and as such a frequent business guest in hotels. Over the years, there are a few things where I’ve really wondered why hotels don’t get them right albeit they are dead simple. This is why I thought I’d write it down. Maybe the world (well, hotels) will be a better place.
Every guest in a hotel has a few very basic needs, irrespective of his primary reason for staying there. When you book a hotel room what you really buy is a place to spend the night, a place to sleep. So hotels are fundamentally selling sleep. Actually, it’s more than that, but let’s start here.
For a proper sleep, virtually all people need a few things that strangely aren’t always there. Also immediately after sleeping all people have needs. Let’s go through this:
- Make it silent
It’s kind of stupid to list the following things, and even more to go into detail, but I’ve been to countless hotels that don’t get them right: “Do not disturb” does not mean entering the room and asking if it is OK to clean it. Doors shall block light and sound. I don’t want to hear my neighbor’s TV or privacy. You have to verify all that for each and every room. Tune up TV from the next rooms, put on some decent sound outside and check if you can hear that with windows closed. Some people need to sleep at daytime. Consider that.
- Make it dark
Similar to silence, many people like it dark when sleeping. This usually involves curtains and – again – a real door. Again, check it. 1pm, sunny day. Do you get the room dark? All rooms?
- Make it comfortable.
A proper bed is of similar importance. This means a mattress that feels like one, enough and different pillows and sheets. Preferences differ, so there need to be at least 3 times as many pillows and sheets than in your home bed.
- Give us energy.
Every night has its end. Most people nowadays use their mobile phone as alarm clock. These little things need power, especially smartphones. Put a power plug to each side of the bed, so people can charge it overnight and use it as an alarm clock. Bonus points for different power plug types.
- Let’s clean us
After getting up, the traveler hopefully uses the bathroom. Many travelers use beauty cases with hook hangers. Have something in the bathroom to hang that stuff. Even a simple screw in the wall does the trick, albeit looking ugly. The shower is supposed to pour the water on the body, not to flood the room. This one seems very hard to some hotels. You will have to verify that it is still leak proof by showering in the rooms now and then. In addition, people expect to have a warm shower. That means the temperature is predictably warm. It should not dramatically change just because someone else in the hotel starts or stops his shower. Again, this has to be verified on busy days and for every room. Really. I’ve abandoned a hotel because they couldn’t get this working anywhere properly.
- Supply real food
For breakfast habits vary again drastically. Decide if the hotel is for international guests or not. An international hotel should have an idea about those very different habits and serve a broad range. If it’s not international, fine, go with the local stuff.
That are probably the fundamental requirements that 95% of the customers share. I haven’t listed cleanliness, because it’s so obvious. If you want to show off, start thinking about decoration, nice restaurants, music etc. once you’ve got those sorted.
The next 4 bullets are somewhat more targeted at a business traveler:
- Allow luggage
Most frequent travelers, especially business people, live out of their suitcases. They don’t need the fancy and huge wardrobes. But they need some space (bonus points if it’s dedicated and elevated for that) to place their open suitcases. So design the room with that in mind.
- Let us work….
Nowadays most people need an internet connection to work. Most hotels offer one, but again in most it useless, because either wifi reception is poor or the connection is overloaded. Again, try it. Take a day when the hotel is significantly booked and people are in their rooms. Try watching youtube. Try it in all rooms. Really. It doesn’t matter if IT says it works. Try it out. Bonus points if it’s free. If you charge for that, make the process simple and usable for international customers.
- …and relax afterwads
Astonishingly also people that work the whole day want to relax afterwards. I hardly see a hotel that keeps their spa/gym/whatever open for them, though. 7pm is not a closing time for your pool if you want your business customers to relax after a long day.
- Don’t produce hassle.
Do not let people fill out stuff you already know. Get a system or process that transfers the booking details on whatever forms you need. Checkin and checkout should not exceed 2 minutes per customer. Visit a German ALDI if you want to see how fast a payment procedure can be.