Operations Planner
«  »

A Sensory Stay

publication date: Jul 18, 2011
author/source: Andrew Lo

 4 April 2011

A Sensory Stay | By Andrew Lo

A Sensory Stay | By Andrew Lo

On a recent holiday in Hawaii, while shuffling from beach to beach on Oahu, I had the chance to read Jonathan Tisch's Chocolates on the Pillow Aren't Enough. Mr Tisch, CEO of Loews Hotels, makes the point that it is no longer enough for hotels to offer a unique product or service. Rather, it is the experience that keeps the guests coming back, particularly in the current economy.

Luxury hotel development and refurbishment in London seem to be kicking into overdrive. According to Francesca Nand at HotelNewsNow, estimates are that "by 2012 there will be 18,000 more hotel rooms available" than there are now, with especially strong growth in the luxury sector.

Last October, the Savoy relaunched after a 100 million pound restoration, while the Four Seasons Park Lane reopened at the beginning of the year. The city has already seen a W appear in Leicester Square, with a Corinthia in Whitehall coming up shortly. The rest of 2011 will find a Bulgari, another InterContinental, and yet another Four Seasons appear on our city's Where London maps. More than likely, each of these hotels will have one or more of the following: 42-inch Bang and Olufsen TV, Egyptian cotton bed linen, or Penhaligon toiletries.

How then will each of these hotels make themselves unique? Mr Tisch might suggest that it will be through the experiences that they offer. You want your guests to leave your property with delightful memories and stories to tell their friends long after they have left your hotel.

In my opinion, anything that affects the senses is a vital part of the guest experience. Making sure the following bases are covered will significantly reduce the likelihood of unhappy guests posting negative TripAdvisor reviews.

What The Guest Sees: What kind of vibe does the hotel give off? Is it a chic, formal, or relaxed place? Before a guest even sets one foot into the hotel, she takes a look at the outside. What will she see? How is the exterior façade of the building maintained? Are there parts that need touching up? In the guest room, will she see paint coming off the walls? Are there cobwebs in the far corner of the bathroom? Is visible effort put into food presentation in the restaurants? Are staff wearing well-fitted, damage-free uniforms? Before anyone in the hotel has a chance to begin engaging the guest, she may already be forming the opening scenes of the experience in her mind.

What The Guest Smells: Close your eyes and inhale. Where do you think you might be? While easier said than done, it is essential to keep all the public areas and guestrooms fresh-smelling at all times. It would definitely help if smoking was made off-limits on hotel property, but I would be concerned about riots in the streets if such a law was passed in London.

What The Guest Tastes: Whether it is the lemongrass welcome drink served upon arrival, the scones at afternoon tea, or the sausages at the charcuterie counter, you have multiple opportunities for guests to tell others about the amazing F&B offerings at your hotel. So, before that next coq au vin goes out the kitchen, "Taste, taste, taste!"

What The Guest Hears: "Welcome to the hotel, Mr. Jones, how are you doing this afternoon?" or "I notice you are traveling with your children on this occasion, may I ask you about particular housekeeping times you would like us to observe during your stay?" is often all it takes for a guest to feel like you are making an effort to connect. Most guests like to be recognized, and to feel that the hotel staff is trying to meet or even exceed their expectations. That said, use the guest name where possible, but be natural about it.

What The Guest Feels: Here, I am not about to discuss the firmness of the bed and the softness of the pillows. The question is "How amazed is the guest at her experience in the hotel?" The combination of all of the above sensory experiences should culminate in a "WOW! What stories I will have to tell!"

Each day, we have hundreds of opportunities to deliver an unforgettable guest experience. Will you be that special member of staff who turns a first-time customer into a loyal fan?

Andrew Lo is a trainee in Rooms Division at Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park, London. A graduate of Stanford University, he majored in International Relations and minored in Economics. Despite not having gone to hotel school, Andrew has a real love for travel and hospitality. Feel free to contact him at anlo@mohg.com.

Chocolates on the Pillow Aren't Enough: Reinventing the Customer Experience Chocolates on the Pillow Aren't Enough: Reinventing the Customer Experience

By Jonathan M. Tisch

JONATHAN M. TISCH is Chairman and CEO of Loews Hotels, as well as co-Chairman of the Board and member of the Office of the President of Loews Corporation, the hotel chain's parent company and one of the largest diversified financial holding companies in the United States. Recognized as a preeminent leader of the nation's travel and tourism industry, Tisch is Chairman of the Travel Business Roundtable and NYC & Company, the city's official tourism marketing organization. In 2005, Tisch became the host of his own television show, Open Exchange: Beyond the Boardroom with Jonathan Tisch, a series of one-on-one interviews with America's preeminent CEOs and business luminaries. Tisch is also the author of the bestseller The Power of We


Email: andrewcl88@gmail.com

Search the Site