There are a ton of little pieces of knowledge and insight students of hospitality management have to learn before they can successfully execute real-world employment duties. However, the plain and unadulterated goal for all of the hospitality industry is to give guests what they want. Finding out just what it is that visitors to your hotel want is one of those topics that a great deal of money has been thrown at to discover.
Wants vs. Needs
Furthermore, this discovery of the “wants” – not needs, since these can be easily covered in and first-year level hospitality management course – is also dependent on the type of visitor in question. So, what do guests at your hotel want? Obviously it will not be the obvious – a clean room with clean sheets that have been changed since the last guest was staying there. It will not be the minimum furniture and bathroom accoutrement requirements like a bed, towels or those little bottles of shampoo and conditioner.
One of those highly funded research surveys determined that the most sought after amenity wanted by business travelers is a free newspaper – followed by basic cable. First and third on the list for leisure travelers were basic cable television followed by an ironing board and iron in the room – ready for use. Apparently, the want for an iron and ironing board in the room trumps the mere availability of one on the premises. This revelation may surprise even the most astute hospitality manager since most people would probably assume business travelers would be more concerned with their appearances than people on vacation would. Yet, when surveyed business travelers ranked the trusty ole iron and board number six.
In the Top Five
Additional top five choices for business traveler wants included an in-room coffee maker (with free supplies); complimentary access to premium television channels; and availability of pay-per-view programming. Vacationers completed their wants list with premium television, par-per-view and then an in-room coffee maker. Incidentally, vacationers did not list a want for telephone data ports but businesses travelers did.
As for the branding of newspaper wants, “USA Today” was number one followed by the Wall Street Journal. Although many hotels in urban areas dominated by frequent business traveler use prefer a complimentary WSJ, a standard amenity requirement when it comes to newspapers has become the USA Today.
What to Do
If the facility you manage has none of the amenities described here – get them! Although some are obviously great in particular markets, others would suit every market, for example, in-room coffee makers. But, just don’t stop there. Make sure you provide a minimum of coffee making supplies that are complimentary. This is inexpensive marketing. Research shows that at least 73 percent of hotel guests will use an in-room complimentary coffee making setup. Newspapers are another easy amenity to provide and are typically delivered. And, if you are supervising a small facility where USA Today has limited availability, supply the local newspaper from your area or the nearby metro.
Iron it Out
If cash is limited, only supply an in-room iron and board for your premium rooms. This could also be the thought process for coffee makers as well, but, include a coffee maker in every room before an iron. Plus, if you have amenities in upgraded rooms only, do not let these sit empty. Offer an upgraded room to guests at no additional charge.
This act will benefit you handsomely with repeat business and priceless word of mouth advertising.