Hotel Online Special Report
What is "Atmosphere"?
by Harry Nobles, November  1999 

We often speak of atmosphere when describing  a hotel or restaurant. This term is rarely used to describe other commercial establishments. What is atmosphere? 

One dictionary definition is “a mental or moral environment”.  I think this definition applies very well to a fine hotel.  I am tempted to add “intangible” to that definition; yet, I have often perceived an almost tangible sense of atmosphere in some of the fine hotels I have visited. 

What attributes combine to create a particular atmosphere?  I believe there are several components, some tangible and at least one intangible.  The obvious tangible physical factors include architecture, decor, and furnishings. 

The basic physical facilities can be enhanced in  several ways that amplify the overall atmosphere. Illumination can do wonders for a lobby; a roaring fire in a fireplace evokes a more inviting atmosphere.  The tangible components of atmosphere are the easier to create; all you need is an innovative architect or designer and money.

The intangible is by definition harder to define and usually more difficult to achieve.  Anyone who has visited  a truly world class hotel will recall the sense of graciousness  and genuine hospitality that permeate such establishments.  Arrival at other hotels, even some with superior physical facilities,  is often less memorable.  What makes this difference?

I believe the staff makes the difference. Employee conduct and actions either add to or detract from your hotel’s  atmosphere;  none are neutral.

Are your employees’ conduct and actions creating the right atmosphere?  Do they know what atmosphere you want to create?  Have you made it clear to your staff exactly what your hotel’s atmosphere goal is?  If  yes, I congratulate you!

If not, I suggest you start at the front door.  The first indication of a property’s atmosphere is usually from the door and/or bell staff.  If they are properly positioned, alert, well groomed, professionally attired,  and greet me cordially and promptly, I know they are ready and eager to render efficient service.    The truly intangible component, attitude, is very much in evidence, and I immediately sense a very positive atmosphere. 

If they are lounging about, chatting with each other, and seem indifferent to my arrival, I get a very different message.  This begins at the door and extends throughout the hotel.   I recommend you assure that your staff is very clear about what atmosphere you want to create and the importance of  their role..  Once that has been accomplished, you can begin to train them on the details.  More about the details in my next submission.

Harry Nobles Hospitality Consulting
POC:  Harry Nobles
Phone:  757-564-3761
Fax:        757-564-0076
Pager:  800-577-7468  PIN# 303-9130
  • Former head of AAA Lodging/Dining Ratings Program. 
  • An independent consultant serving the hospitality industry. 
  • A Special Training Consultant to the Educational Institute, American Hotel/Motel Association
Also See: Maintaining Your AAA Rating / Nov 1999
Earning a AAA Rating vs Maintaining a AAA Rating: Which Is More Difficult?  / Oct 1999
Remaining Hospitable in an Inhospitable World / August 1999
Can Outstanding Service Offset Hotel Physical Deficiencies in the Rating Systems? / Harry Nobles / June 1999 
Consistency: The Hallmark of a Fine Hotel / September 1999
Mobil Travel Guide Announces 1998 Mobil Four-and Five-Star Award Winners / Jan 1998 
Are Your Employees Checking Out As Fast As Your Guests / Setting Up an Effective Training Program / Harry Nobles / May 1999 
"AAA" - Hotel Online Viewpoint Forum
The Legend of the Pineapple / Harry Nobles / Feb 1999 
To Harry Nobles Hospitality Consulting Index Page

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