The guestroom is the crux of the hotel experience, and there are many small things that can set a guest off but are often overlooked. Call this my pet peeve list, but see if you don't agree. This list is not in priority order.
- Complex WiFi set ups. It is bad enough that I have to pay for WiFi, but what's worse is trying to set up a complex WiFi connection. Headache! Even with my MacBook Air, there are connections that just don't seem to work, no matter what you attempt.
- Poor WiFi signal. I am differentiating this point from the set up and cost. What I am referring to is insufficient bandwidth to operate the basics of the business: loading the internet and downloading basic files (let alone movies or anything of that magnitude).
- Pay for WiFi. Give me a break. I'm paying $550 per night for the room and now you want another $13.95 for WiFi? What's wrong with this picture? I pay five bucks for a coffee at Starbucks and get all the WiFi I need (which, by the way, is where your consumers are going instead of your restaurant because of this). Also, don't you ever notice that the economy segment hotels seem to have free WiFi while the luxury products do not?
- In-room coffee that's in un-openable packets. Unfortunately, we airline travelers no longer carry scissors. So how do we open these space-proof foil packs? I once phoned down to the front desk to ask a bellman to bring up a pair.
- Shampoo amenities not large enough for two users. If my wife is with me, we need to execute our own shampoo-rationing plan. Don't you think that someone could increase the size in anticipation of two designated occupants?
- No decent TV channels, except if you go to the pay section. As an older guest, it would really be nice to be able to watch an hour or so of high quality television without commercials. I'm talking getting up to code by offering a little HBO or Showtime.
- Small water bottles that are not free. Single-serve water bottles cost just a few cents each, maybe at most 25-35 cents from a wholesaler. Include a few and price your room up by just a buck.
- A larger bottle of water with a $5.95 ‘warning' neck tag. Come on now. Does that water bottle really dictate that price? Better to have no large water bottles than to feature a price incongruity that might upset guests.
- Too many tent cards. I arrive in the room and I'm bombard with brochures telling me about the great chef, a promotional food offer somewhere in the hotel or the drink specials. Yet, surprisingly, these offers are not available in room service.
- Complex lighting controls. Some even require putting the glasses back on to figure out how to use them. Worse is trying to close the lights to get a night's sleep and you can't figure out how to shut off that one hallway light that cannot be accessed from bedside.
- TVs that cannot be seen easily from the bed. I have been in rooms where the TV is opposite the bed, but the room is so large that you are out of remote control range. And if the remote control can't see the TV, imagine how you, the viewer, can see it! I have also been in rooms where the TV has to be rotated to be viewed from the bed, and in doing so the remote no longer functions.
- Noisy AC units. In fact, some are so noisy that when the compressor clicks on, it might wake those in the next room. Sorry, but I expect a quiet room, especially in the luxury class. This one may require a heavy upgrade cost, but for guest satisfaction, it is a must.
- Drapes that don't fully block sunlight. Often, black out drapes just aren't sized properly, leaving gaps. Amazing how sunlight dances through badly matched seams.
- Quirky alarm clocks. We're talking the ones that do not set easily or those tied into a radio and not a buzzer. I've given up on this one and just use my iPhone.
- Lack of accessible outlets for rechargers. This one is especially bad when it comes to bedside rechargers. How do you plug your phone in to recharge it and still have it handy by being within reach of the bed? I realize that most guestrooms were configured and built well before the advent of smartphones, but this might crop up as a pesky problem for your guests.
- Soap packaged in plastic shrink-wrap. You know what I'm talking about: the packaging that requires real effort to remove. You need long finger nails and lots of patience (and your glasses on). Test a random batch from your supplier. If you can't open it easily, replace the batch…or get a new vendor!
- Bathrooms with poor lighting. This one tops the list as my wife's biggest complaint. It's added in here as she definitely had a few things to say about hotel rooms she will never visit again (along with those that do not have make up mirrors).
Now, here is my recommendation with all these minor points: spend a night in your property and see if anything on this list comes up. Each one is like the proverbial ‘straw that broke the camel's back'. Sooner or later, one of these will be the deciding factor for guest satisfaction, positive online reviews and return visits. Most are easy fixes, so do something about it.
(Article published by Larry Mogelonsky in eHotelier on November 13, 2013)