Sunday, January 14, 2018

Work In Hotel Management? Read This

Hey, hotel people. Worried about AIRBNB taking over?

If I'm looking for a charming vacation hideaway, then an AIRBNB or VRBO cottage is perfect. But when I'm traveling for business, I want a hotel that I don't have to research, a website that makes booking easy, a hotel I don't have to wonder about and figure out.

What makes a hotel great is reliability and predictability. (This is why Starbucks has taken over the world.) If they give me that predictability and avoid irritating me, I'm a good customer, easy to retain.

I do a lot of traveling for book events and festivals. One of the hotel brands I use just upgraded me to "Platinum" because I stayed over 60 nights in the last 12 months. So I'm a good customer. I'm quiet, and I tip the cleaning staff well. 

Yet hotels routinely screw up. So what should hotels do to avoid irritating customers like me? That's easy. Here are a few, mostly simple, things a hotel can do to keep customers happy.

*The next time you remodel rooms, don't put in those toilets that are so loud you have to wear earplugs. Please. What was the designer thinking? There are plenty of low-flow toilets that don't make you cringe and flinch with adrenaline shock when you hit the button.

"Don't put out those little signs that proclaim how the hotel is trying to conserve water when you have a shower head with no volume control! I can't count how many showers I've had where the only control is temperature and you have to be very careful that the water doesn't hit your ears or eyelids lest the fire-hose pressure causes physical damage. If I have a shower with volume control, I use only one-third as much water. Multiply that by hundreds of rooms and you have much more water conservation. And you don't make your customers frustrated about the waste.

*Don't give me a bed that sags like a hammock. It's amazing how often an expensive hotel has a bed that always "rolls" you to one major depression. (Hint to single travelers, sleep on the side that's farthest from the bathroom, as that has been used the least.)

*Don't have an air conditioner/heating unit without a constant "on" fan setting. First, the people above you are always stomping around like a marching band, and you need that "always on" fan to provide white noise to help cover the thumping from other hotel guests. Second, if the fan only turns on and off when the air conditioner compressor turns on, then it wakes you up all night long. Third, don't design rooms with a super-quiet air system. We need that white noise - preferably with both a low and high setting - to keep out outside noise.

*Don't make the room attendants fold the toilet paper and Kleenex and wash cloths into decorative flower shapes. Yes, I get that they want guests to feel attended to. But do I really want to blow my nose or wash my face with something that looks like it was manhandled for twenty minutes by the same person who cleaned the bathroom? The housekeepers work very hard. Let's limit their work to cleaning instead of wasting time on stuff we don't care about or want.

*Last, and most important, don't set the room key card to stop working an hour before checkout. (I heard one hotel employee refer to this as "keybombing.") There is nothing more irritating than walking the stairs to get your last load of stuff before checking out and finding out your key doesn't work. Does hotel management really think this serves them to get people to clear out earlier? If you want people out sooner, then move your checkout time up an hour. To have this be my very last experience at a hotel ensures that I'll never go back to that hotel again. (And for those hotel people who claim they don't understand why this happened, know that you're not fooling anyone. Funny how my key card never stops working at 8 p.m. But many times it stops one hour before checkout. And it's always after the hard labor of taking down a book exhibit the night before - at the end of a long 3-day show - and I really need to sleep in a bit.)

Most of these things would be easy to prevent. Some hotels get it so right. The rest of you might want to know why your business is struggling to compete with AIRBNB.


  1. I second, third and fourth all your suggestions!

    1. Thanks. I suspected I wasn't the only person with these observations!

  2. We stay in many hotels! (Family of 5) and fully agree with everything you mentioned. They key part is thr WORST!!!!!! We’re not stupid!!!