By Larry Mogelonsky, MBA, P. Eng. (www.hotelmogel.com)
Oftentimes marketers and hoteliers alike get caught up in the big picture as they try to sell their products on only the flashiest features. Be it the great outdoor pool, the award-winning restaurant or the million-dollar-redesigned chic lobby bar, we aim to emotionally impact potential customers with dynamic visuals and impressive amenities.
Through this singular focus we are strategically manipulating the narrative so that it is simple, memorable and unique to the guest – a vital task in today’s uber-competitive environment where consumers’ attention spans are infinitesimally small. With the sweeping disruption of alternate lodging providers and the sharing economy, however, we are neglecting the minutia of our properties, which have now become a strong selling point in their own right.
Nowhere is this better illustrated than in a comparison of the washroom – a deeply personal space — between that of a traditional hotel and an alternate accommodation. Say you’re a modern traveler and you’ve found the appropriate lodgings through a home-sharing website. Even with all the images uploaded by the host as well as a prearrival assurance of cleanliness, there are small details that you can’t easily discern before you are physically present in the space.
Will there be enough counterspace to spread out all your amenities without them falling into the sink? Will the shower be big enough to scrub everywhere without contorting your body into weird yoga-like positions? Are the shampoos and conditioners of decent quality so you’re not just putting chemicals on your skin? What happens when you run out of fresh towels? Will the towels be of high enough quality or are they old and rough? Are bathrobes and slippers also provided? Will there be enough toilet paper to last you the five days you’re staying there before you have to go to the local convenience store to buy more? Did your host supply you with crummy single ply or has he/she actually bought a brand where you don’t have to use half a roll to effectively wipe your you-know-what?
Built into the thousands of standard operating procedures of all but a few hotels is an imperative to reassure incoming guests by correctly addressing all of these questions. There are quality markers to pass for every piece of fabric that finds its way into a guestroom, including the thickness of toilet paper. And whenever a guest runs out, he or she is but one phone call to front desk away from immediate resupply. One more point worth mentioning here is that, unlike at some alternate lodgings, at a traditional hotel you won’t be required to take out the trash or clean the dishes prior to checkout!
Moving beyond the bathroom, there are amenity and service guarantees incorporated into nearly every feature of a traditional property. And these are all worth showcasing. The resultant exercise for your marketing team is to rethink your operations in terms of what you have assumed a customer knows and what you are perhaps taking for granted by not informing your guests about. Then you must devise a way of highlighting or putting a spin on these so they stand prominently as features unto themselves.
While nowhere better demonstrates this on an emotional level than the shower or sink area, probably the most important, from a technical standpoint, are the security protocols as well as the personnel devoted to maintaining your safety while you are a guest. How many hotel websites have their own page devoted solely to security? How many have more than just a paragraph? What do your front office associates do to reassure guests of their safety before they arrive and once they are onsite?
To address this or any other operation effectively, you must fundamentally rethink not only how you are selling but what you are in fact selling in the first place. Yes, your property has great features worthy of a full-page spread in a travel magazine, but it also has numerous guarantees of service and operational ‘minutia’ not provided at other type of lodging. It’s about time we started marketing all of these minor features with the same vigor as everything else.
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Editor’s note: To discuss business challenges or speaking engagements please contact Larry directly.