By Doug Kennedy

October 7, 2015

Of all of the slogans used by hotel companies over the years, for me the most pithy has to be the one that Sheraton used in its pre-Starwood days: “At Sheraton, little things mean a lot.”

When it comes to success in the hotel and lodging industry, it truly is the smallest details that make the biggest differences. As my frequent readers know, I often write about what I call the “vanillaization” of the physical hotel experience as brands copy-cat each other in the race to add the latest, niftiest new features and amenities. Yet one aspect of a hotel stay that remains as a true differentiator is a pro-active attention to the smallest details of guests’ stays.

While reading classical historical fiction recently, I came upon what was for me a new word: Punctilious. When I pressed the word on the screen of my Kindle Fire, the first definition that came up online was: “Showing great attention to detail or correct behavior.” Right away I knew this was the perfect word for my vision of the ideal hotel that thinks of everything. For me, here are some of the characteristics of a truly punctilious hotel where “little things mean a lot” when it comes to increasing loyalty and fostering a positive online reputation.

A hotel where:

– Web designers make the street address easy to find on the mobile version of a hotel website (for GPS purposes) along with the direct, local phone number.

– An updated TV channel guide is easily found in the room.

– Housekeepers check to make sure that the TV remote is working and that the batteries are not dead.

– Housekeepers also check to make sure the alarm clock is not set from the previous guest’s stay, which could otherwise result in an unwanted early morning alarm.

– When asked for extra coffee packets, housekeepers also automatically bring up fresh coffee cups and condiments.

– Front office colleagues are able to offer travel tips such as the best routes for avoiding traffic and realistic travel times to major points of interest, factoring in construction delays.

– Colleagues who can recommend with confidence the local restaurants, shopping and attractions instead of simply providing a list.

– A late checkout can be extended in advance before guests retire after a late night out, even if for an extra fee.

– Guest rooms feature plenty of electrical outlets, or if the hotel is older, where power strips are made available.

– Table tents offer special amenities that guests really need these days, even if offered at an extra cost, such as universal phone and laptop chargers, contact lens cases and solution, distilled water for those who use CPAP breathing machines, and ear plugs for the spouses of those who do not but should!

– Speed dial buttons on the guest room phones are programmed to actually dial the departments that match the labels.

– Bar menus offer appealing non-alcoholic drinks beyond just soda and coffee for the designated driver or for those in recovery.

– Bellstaff offer to assist with luggage by asking “May I show you to your room?” instead of treating guests like weaklings and saying “Did you need help with your luggage?”

– Waitstaff who say “What did you think of your entrée?” and not just say “How was it, good?” or “Still working on that?”

– Host or hostesses that greet patrons dining alone with “Welcome! Are you ready to be seated?” Instead of reminding them of their loneliness by saying “Just one???”

– Signage is easy to follow helps guests find their way to their rooms and around the hotel.

– Ice machines are well maintained and working.

– Airport vans are large enough to accommodate the actual numbers of guests who rely on the service.

By focusing on the “little things” such as these and embracing a culture of continuous improvement, your hotel will be assured of always being successful even when a newer one opens nearby.