“Successfully encouraging guests to come back to your hotel time and time again is the Holy Grail for hoteliers”
Victoria Phillips, Rooms Division Manager, Novotel London City South Hotel
1. People not process
It’s important for us to ensure that when guests arrive they don’t spend time queuing or speaking to someone on a computer behind a desk. Instead, by streamlining the check in service to remove unnecessary admin, the focus is more about people and less about process. This means staff have time to meet and greet guests in the lobby, welcoming and helping them with any queries they may have such as the best ways to travel or tourist hotspots to visit.
This more personal approach helps to reinforce that ‘wow’ moment before guests even arrive, having already made the booking and check-in process very straightforward.
Similarly, emailing invoices when guests come to check-out ensures they don’t have to wait at a desk whilst a member of staff is on a computer.
2. Names before numbers
We encourage staff to know the names of our guests rather than their room numbers, particularly those who are regular visitors. We want those who spend 3-4 days a week with us to feel like the hotel is a home away from home.
This should start from the moment guests tell us what they would like from their stay – be that a room with a bath, a morning newspaper or even a south-facing room. It’s vital to make sure that everyone’s stay is as personal as possible, and to show guests they have been thought about before they even arrive.
3. Go the extra mile
Doing everything we can to make guests feel valued and at home is a must. One guest who stayed with us recently had a dairy and soya allergy, so we made sure a member of kitchen staff went out to buy almond milk so they could enjoy breakfast. We believe that more and more of our guests are nutritionally aware, health conscious and have diverse food and drink requirements. Making sure we can cater for this is a must.
Something that’s proved particularly popular at breakfast in our hotel is a pancake machine. It’s not something you will find at every Novotel hotel, but we introduced it on a trial basis and it proved so popular that it’s now become a permanent fixture.
4. Always look to improve
As a business we are always looking to find ways to improve. Encouraging guests to leave feedback online, and regularly monitoring this, means we can engage more regularly with them. This can only have a positive impact.
5. The final frontier
As technology evolves, implementing a system whereby guests can check-in using their smartphone via a QR code is very much the ‘final frontier’. Removing the need for guests to collect and return a physical key will further free up time for staff to interact with guests and take a more personal approach to customer service.