Managing the last impression in hotels

Posted on July 21, 2010

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I was just reading last week that Tripadvisor just became the #1 most popular travel website ahead of Expedia.
Let’s be honest, we all think the same, Tripadvisor is hotels worst enemy and the tool of the cowards. Ten years ago, the only solution we had to express our bitter feelings was the little guest comments form delicately handed over by the front office staff. But now we have the ultimate weapon. We don’t care anymore whether the management will read our comments or not because we know we will have our ultimate vengeance!
Any hotellier on this planet is scared of bad comments on Tripadvisor; there are even courses on how to manage it, how to respond to a bad guest review and manage collateral damages.

So it made me think, is it right to put so much efforts into a welcome gift while the last impression is what will dictate what the guest will think about his stay? Should hotelliers really be so obsessed with finding creative ideas for welcome gifts to be given upon check-in while it is upon check-out that John Doe will decide whether the experience he had was worth the USD1,000 he just spent?

Managing correctly a check-out is a crucial and very delicate matter. Even if all went fairly well during the stay and that all brand promises have been delivered smoothly.

Saying Thank You upon check-out

It is a bizarre thing but saying “Thank You” upon check-out, in one way or another, has never been part of traditional hotels SOPs (but who still writes fresh SOPs these days?). Massive efforts are being put in the arrival experience but no investment is made in a check-out procedure and gift that will make John and his family feel valued and recognized – As opposed to a cash cow. Create a departure experience and fully integrate it within your brand promise.

What matters is not really the value of the gift but really the attention and the gesture. The guests need to feel special. Don’t take them for granted because they just paid. It can be as simple as a coffee at the bar, an OJ for the kids or a souvenir from the destination. Anything that can generate trust and makes the guests feel appreciated.

Any best practice or experiences I would love to hear them.

Fabrice Burtin – July 2010

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