You have arrived, your moment of anticipation is here, you are about to open the door to your sleeping chamber for the night, also your temporary living quarters. You are about to experience perhaps the strongest impression making moment of your hotel stay. You have activated your contribution to the revenue per available room (REVPAR) of that property. You are entering—”the bedroom.”
What do your senses tell you the moment you enter the room you have been given as a result of your reservation? What kind of experience will you have in this intimate space you will call “home” for the next period of hours or days? Will you be able to find your way around the room? What kind of service will you experience in the bedroom?
What makes the guest’s room experience memorable? What are the dos and don’ts of bedroom service and how does each department/role of the hotel impact that intimate space?
It is never easy to arrive late in the evening to any hotel. The guest may be tired and probably grumpy and ready to crawl into bed. There have been at least three occasions in the past year when that grumpy guest has been me. After a long day of work, travel and transitions, I was ready for my rest. After checking in, it took me less than 10 minutes to unpack, wash my face, brush my teeth and jump into a soft, clean bed. That was the first time I relaxed and felt relieved knowing I was on my way to a well-deserved rest.
Little did I know that at 4am, the alarm clock would interrupt that rest and completely disrupt the euphoric state of REM sleep I had just reached. I woke up startled, disoriented, surprised and confused. I tried to remember what meeting I had, what commitment I had made, what reason I had for waking up at 4am. Then, after I was finally wide awake, I realized I had no reason and that the alarm had been set and left by the last guest. Now, I was angry. Why didn’t housekeeping check the clock and especially the alarm to make sure my sleep would not be interrupted? Falling back asleep was not easy or peaceful from that moment on, especially since I could not wait to wake up and complain about this overlooked step. As I mentioned, this happened at least three times last year, and two of those occasions were on weekends, my free pass for a late sleep that was not to be.
Checking the clocks for accuracy, making sure a pleasant volume and station are on for the first time the guest opts to turn on the radio or alarm, making sure the alarm is not on when a new guest checks in and even cleaning the clock since dust seems to accumulate in the little crevices would seem to be part of basic steps in clock etiquette and bedroom service. Yet guests frequently exchange “alarm clock nightmare” stories that leave them feeling unrested and unhappy.
Another bedroom moment that can go awry is the search for plugs, internet connections and television instructions. Most business travelers like to set up their computers and recharge their phones the minute they enter their room. Each minute counts and after being on the road, they want to be able to ‘connect’, plug in and view immediately. Many times those guests must go on the “plug hunt” to find just one socket that does not already have a light fixture, TV, phone or clock already using the space. Sometimes, the guest must move or crawl under furniture to find the elusive plug. Then, the guest must decide what to unplug so that plug space opens up. What if hoteliers made sure that there was easy, accessible plug space waiting for the arriving traveler’s electronic apparatus. What if they even provided a diagram or brief description of where/how to plug in quickly when the guest checks in or made sure available plugs were as easy to see and find as the bottled water when the guest enters the room?
Internet connections, cables and codes can be another conundrum when setting up camp in the bedroom. Seems like more often than not, guests have to call the front desk after they get to the room to get a cable, to get a code or simply find out how to connect. Front desk staff could be trained to add a few additional statements to their welcome and room overview when the guest checks in. Better yet, they could provide a “FAQ” (frequently asked questions) card if the guest is interested in hooking up right away.
The FAQ card concept could also help with other areas that are often confusing or upsetting to guests such as operating the TV, location of hair dryers, extra pillows or blankets and even temperature control. Hotel management could actually ask housekeeping, engineering, room service, phone operators and security to provide input/ideas on questions/problems that come up most frequently while guests are in their rooms and determine solutions and ways to fix/enhance the guest experience based on that live data and feedback. Those same departments would probably feel more empowered and motivated by simply being asked directly how they believe the guest experience and bedroom service could be improved.
Late night courtesies and early morning thoughtfulness could also make a big difference in bedroom service. One hotel had a soothing aquarium screen saver on the TV when checking in. It had a soothing effect on travelers who arrived late and anxious after some difficult moments. Another nice touch is a late night welcome note waiting on the guest pillow along with mints and fresh water. That little bit of empathy can go a long way in making guests feel appreciated and understood while they are away from home. Housekeeping staff could brainstorm on different or special strategies to make each stay more memorable depending on the time of day a guest checks in. The Front Desk could ask each guest what time they would like housekeeping to knock on the door for cleaning. Many times the guest has no choice and must get up from their beds to answer or lock the door before housekeeping walks in and sees them in their pajamas. How wonderful to give guests that choice and alert housekeeping to those guest preferences.
Smells can also impact the room experience as all senses are in play when guests enter the room. Does the room smell like bug spray? Deodorizer? Mold? Does it smell stagnant because the air was not on? Are there funny looking or smelling dust balls or other objects under the beds or couches? Do the trash cans have an odor, even if they are empty? When guests wake up in the morning, will their dishes from the night before still be sitting outside their room? Will they lose their breakfast appetite if they see and smell their old spaghetti, wilted lettuce and half eaten rolls on their way out? Will they learn more about the other guests on their floor as they walk by other half eaten meals left outside room doors? How often is room service or housekeeping checking the floors for these abandoned meals and making sure they are whisked away as soon as possible?
Hoteliers and their teams have so many opportunities to review, improve and enhance the guest experience in the bedroom and everyone can get involved! Consider servicing guests better with better bedroom service. Watch smiles per available room increase along with revenue per available room with bedroom experience management.