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A sense of arrival, a sense of departure

Most hoteliers intrinsically understand the concept of a sense of arrival. Broadly defined, this is that glorious moment (or what’s intended to be glorious) when a guest arrives at the threshold of your establishment. The goal of this is to quite literally wow your arriving guests from the get-go to reaffirm their hotel selection.

I am confident most of you reading this have spent hours in planning committee meetings discussing this very topic. Your doormen are attired with distinctive uniforms designed to create a point of differentiation from the very moment a guest arrives. Operational funds are budgeted to continually refresh incredible floral displays in your lobby. Training for front desk staff includes exhaustive evaluation on welcoming, creating eye contact and ensuring a smile. And I am sure you personally have walked through your front door with eyes as a guest to ensure everything is just right.

A sense of arrival is critical, as it sets a tone for the guest’s upcoming visit. Done well, guests are reassured and excited about their stay. All of their preemptive doubts regarding their stay have been alleviated. Your arrival routine may have even included an upsell routine to a better room type. All of this is well documented, analyzed and already part of your operational code.

But what about developing a sense of departure?

Sadly, a recent four-property tour of luxury hotels in Europe this past spring yielded one commonality. These hotels were excellent in reviewing the invoice, neatly folding it (after duly stapling the credit card form to the receipt) and inserting the folio into a beautiful, soon-to-be-discarded envelope. All were polite, and I could not fault any of the front-desk staff for their work in this manner. But I thought to myself, “What a lost opportunity.” Here I was, just finishing a fantastic stay. Isn’t this an ideal time to try and “sell” me?

Now, I am not advocating hawking a t-shirt or some other sort of paraphernalia, unless, of course, you are a Hard Rock Café or a comparable brand where the wardrobe is part of the experience. Rather, here was a chance to muster some very positive one-on-one dialogue with the guest. For example, this could include stays in other properties within the chain, or if you’re an independent hotel, learning more so you could secure a repeat customer.

A lot of time is spent encouraging the guest to diarize their stay in social media (for example, becoming a Facebook fan or writing a stellar review on TripAdvisor). My feeling is that a guest prompted to do this out of habit will do so without direct encouragement. Those individuals who do not regularly contribute to the social media mayhem will not change their course through your requests.

In any event, give the concept of a sense of departure some thought for your property. Think of it this way: creating the sense of arrival is about the upcoming stay. It is micro-focused on the short period the guest will be with you. The sense of departure is about the future. It is macro-focused on your chain and future expectations.

What are your thoughts on this idea?

(Article published by Larry Mogelonsky in HOTELSmag on August 12, 2013)

Larry MogelonskyA sense of arrival, a sense of departure