Six Things Your Customers Can't Resist

Posted by

Why do some customers return again and again to your hotel or B&B to enjoy your hospitality? There are some things that are the same no matter what you are selling. In hospitality, everyone has the basics---a guest room with beds, bathroom, TV/radio, a dresser and/or closet to put your clothes.

For years I traveled on business three weeks a month, often in a different hotel each night of the week, and there were some things that gave certain properties a friendly excitement that made me look forward to returning again and again. With room rates competitive across brands, it is easy to find a low price at even a four-star hotel. The stars on a plaque in the lobby don’t necessarily put stars in your guests’ eyes. Here are some features can make your business or service irresistible:

1. Smiles. And I mean real ones, not the ones you teach in orientation or force on when the guest comes within view and is dropped like an ill-fitting mask when they walk away. A smile is not only on the face but also in the voice. The two have to match or it’s “no sale.” You can’t teach someone to have an authentic smile—you have to hire people who have that quality. Pay attention to how easily candidates smile in interviews and you’ll get a good indication of how they will do on the job.
2. Eye contact. You can’t always be the only one checking in at the front desk. But, when guests are stacked up like planes trying to land at La Guardia, looking up with a smile, a quick acknowledgement and friendly “hello, I’ll be right with you,” makes me feel welcome and understanding.
3. Free hot coffee/tea early in the morning. I will pass up a five-star hotel that only has coffee available in the restaurant on their time schedule for a hotel that has a free coffee service in the lobby (or in room) available by 6 a.m. The Shellbourne Hotel in Dublin doesn’t offer in-room coffee service, but they have a wonderful coffee/espresso machine in the lobby, available from 6 a.m. until 9 a.m. We enjoyed the best coffee, tea and hot chocolate during our weeks stay in Dublin—our second trip to that hotel—and will gladly return.
4. Quick pick-up on phone calls. Everyone has a “within three rings” phone answer policy. Meeting or exceeding that standard can affect the guest’s impression of your whole operation. When the phone rings and rings, I wonder who’s minding the store. Where is everyone? What if this was an emergency? And I want to talk to a human being when I get a response, not a recorded message meant for outside callers with your hours of operation and restaurant menu.
5. Bathrobes. These are such a luxury, and saves guest luggage space and weight. When I can slip into a fluffy bathrobe, I feel like I’m in a luxury spa, even if I’m only watching TV or working out the kinks in tomorrow’s presentation.
6. Access to the concierge floor or Executive Lounge. We spent a week at the Marriott in Edinburgh, and even though we were there on Reward Points, the hotel graciously coded our room key so we could have access to the Executive Lounge. We were able to relax in a cozy setting, enjoy a glass of wine in the evening and grab a quick breakfast every day as we set out to explore Scotland. Instead of regarding us as “non-paying” guests, we were treated like valued customers. As long-term guests, we appreciated a place to hang out apart from our guest room. We were eager to get back to the hotel in the evening since we felt we were coming “home,” welcomed by staff that became friends by the time we left.

Mary Nestor-Harper, SPHR, is a freelance writer, blogger, and workplace consultant. Based in Savannah, GA, her work has appeared in "Training" magazine, "Training & Development" magazine, "Supervision," "Pulse" and "The Savannah Morning News." You can read her blogs at, and on the web at

Become a member to take advantage of more features, like commenting and voting.

Jobs to Watch