Those who follow me know that I like to stay in nice hotels. While I rely mostly on previous experience when booking my hotels, there are instances where I’m experiencing a hotel or resort for the first time. So when I’m headed to a new location or want to try out a new property, I look for recommendations from friends and family, but even more so I check out blogs and travel websites for reviews, comments and photos of the properties I’m considering.
While staying at new properties, I immediately begin assessing the likelihood I would recommend the hotel to a friend or, more importantly, the likelihood I would stay at the property again in the future. And any good hotel or resort knows, peer recommendations and repeat customers are key in the hospitality industry.
So, with my somewhat high-end taste in hotels, what does it take to make me a repeat guest?
When assessing whether or not I will return to a property or recommend it to a friend, I generally look at 8 features.
8 Hotel Features That Create Repeat Guests
1. The Basics – Very simply, the hotel or resort has to have all of the basics to meet my minimum expectations. These include having the following:
- Clean, well maintained rooms, common areas and landscaping
- Standard modern amenities for the hotel class – like air conditioning/heat, baggage service, free Wi-Fi, housekeeping service, security where appropriate, etc
- Comparable room rates for the area (ie. Not feeling like I’m being overcharged for the room)
If a hotel or resort can’t meet the bare minimum of these expectations, you can be sure that I won’t return or recommend it.
2. Lobby, Reception Area or Entryway – In most hotels the lobby/reception area is my first visual impression of the hotel. When I enter, I consider the size, use of space, lighting, decor, how the check-in process is managed – all of which can impact the most important thing for a guest – how it makes me feel. Do I feel peaceful/calm or anxious? Do I feel welcomed or like I’m a room number? For resorts, first visual impressions often come from the drive onto the property, where I tend to pay more attention to the landscaping, signage (pointing to amenities), and ease of parking and check in upon arrival.
3. Room/Suite – Like many of you, the hotel room or suite experience can make or break my whole trip. When entering my room, I first zone in on cleanliness, including floors and carpets, the bathroom, window ledges, and of course, the linens (always check for bed bugs no matter what hotel you stay in). I also consider the bathroom size and features – is it large enough for a typical person or is it more like a cruise ship bathroom? Does the bathroom have a nice shower head and high-end bath products? Are the towels soft and thick, and are they large enough (or larger) for a typical size person? Overall functionality of the room also matters – does it have a decent closet with luggage racks, does it have phone docking stations? Is there natural light or other good lighting options? And finally – how’s the decor – is it tasteful? Does it overwhelm the space? Does it look dated or damaged? I know many travelers don’t spend a lot of time in their rooms, but for me, my hotel room becomes my home away from home for a given timeframe – that’s true for vacation or business travel. The experience I have with that room alone should make me want to return. If it doesn’t, then I probably won’t stay there again.
4. Location – The location of a hotel is a key feature I consider when staying in big city or urban area. For me, a hotel’s location much be close enough to walk or take public transportation to my selected sites and restaurants. A bonus is when that location is in a quiet but beautiful area with lots of local charm (ie. Covo dei Saraceni in Positano or Hotel Neri in the Gothic Quarter in Barcelona). For resorts, the location is still important, especially when that location is by the beach; however, resorts tend to have more self-contained amenities that don’t require the need to walk a great distance for food or entertainment.
5. Food Options – Having food options, such as a restaurant and/or coffee shop is also something I greatly appreciate in a hotel, especially when that hotel has a quality breakfast. In locations where great restaurants and coffee shops are plentiful (ie. Chicago, Rome, Paris, etc), there is less of a need to have food options onsite at the hotel. However, I think it’s still nice to have the option of eating at the hotel if/when we are too tired to venture out.
6. Service – High-quality service should be inherent in the hospitality industry, but there are hotels that excel in this area more than others. I really appreciate staff who are genuinely welcoming, remember my name each time they see me and go above and beyond in helping to make my stay more memorable. This may include offering recommendations on local restaurants, tips for visiting local sites or offering me a welcome drink upon check in. Service quality also extends to housekeeping – are the staff members cheerful? Are they relatively discreet in the hallway and when cleaning rooms? And, of course, did they do a nice job cleaning my room?
7. Upgraded Amenities – Quality hotels and resorts offer a variety of upgraded amenities – like pools, spas, office centers, concierge services, entertainment, gyms and fitness classes, and many other things. Although it’s not a dealbreaker for me when hotels do not have some of these upgraded amenities (because many make up for it in other ways), having upgraded amenities is a huge plus and something I consider when booking or rebooking hotels.
8. The Little Things – Ok, the subheading may say “little things”, but these little things mean a LOT and can go a very long way when I’m considering whether or not to return to a hotel or resort. Things like complimentary bottled water and fruit in the gym, a glass of wine or sweet treat waiting for me in my room after a long day, or simple turndown service that places a bathrobe and slippers out for me to get comfortable at night. Many hotels and resorts will meet my expectations for service, location, food and other amenities, but it’s the little things that really make my stay, and the hotel, exceptional and truly memorable.
Happy Travels Everyone!