Do your guests suffer from buyer's remorse?
Do your guests suffer from buyer's remorse?
22 JUNE 2012 7:14 AM

You and your hotel only make a first impression once. Here are 21 ways to make sure it counts.

So, you've got the booking. All you do now is wait for your guests to arrive, right?

I'm sure you, like me, have made purchases—a new car,  pair of shoes or  vacation stay—only to wonder afterwards if you’ve done the right thing.

With a car, you might have bought from an overly ambitious salesperson, and now you start to hear tales of unreliability. Or you wonder if you will get any wear out of the new shoes you just purchased. And with the holiday, you start to read of poor experiences or learn that you have to fly from a remote airport, which means leaving home at some forsaken hour to get your flight.

So what has this to do with your hotel guests? Why would they ever feel remorse?

That period between making the booking and arriving at the hotel can either fill your guests with anticipation, or concern.

Once guests have booked your hotel, it’s easy to simply forget about them until the day they arrive. But the best operators keep in touch with guests to ensure they’re looking forward to their stays. Here are some easy ways to do just that:

1. Send a personalized confirmation email summarizing their booking.

2. Send details of the events and activities happening locally so they can plan ahead.

3. Offer to make dinner, theater or event reservations.

4. Send directions and journey times to your hotel from their home ZIP code.

I’m sure we’ve all experienced the disgruntled guest at check-in who’s frustrated after enduring detours due to the local roadwork, missing the turn into the parking lot or finding the car parking lot full. The more we can do to prevent this, the better. That includes:

5. Advise guests of any traffic problems by email or text.

6. Allocate ample parking for guests; employees should not take up valuable spaces on crowded nights.

7. Warn guests in advance if you have limited parking and advise them of the alternatives.

8. Ensure the hotel entrance and parking lot are sign posted and lit so guests can easily find the entrance.

9. Tell guests in advance of any security measures needed to enter the parking lot.

10. Advise guests on the best and most cost effective routes from the airport or railway station.

What’s the first impression your guests get when they arrive?

11. Make sure the parking lot is clean, tidy and well-lit.

12. The route from the parking lot to reception should have easily visible signage.

13. Keep the following out of site: staff members on breaks, waste bins and delivery areas.

14. Ensure the walk to the entrance is easy to navigate with heavy bags (and in bad weather).
15. The main entrance must be clean, welcoming and obvious from the street and parking lot.

16. Put a smile on employees faces; the first thing guests should see as they walk in the door is a smiling, welcoming face.

Most of us put a lot of effort into the initial reception at the front desk, but even with the best intentions things can go wrong. To mitigate these instances, make sure your hotel is in top form and that your staff is performing at its best. Consider the following:

17. Bear in mind, the first people your guests encounter might not be at the front-desk. Are all staff (even those off duty) warm, friendly and welcoming?

18. Make the journey from front desk to guestrooms as easy as possible. How is the route from reception to their room? Is signage clear to newcomers? Are doors easy to negotiate with heavy bags? Are elevators working correctly? Are hallways clear of discarded room service trays? Do key cards work properly?

19. Guestrooms should be fresh, clean, well-maintained and at a comfortable temperature.

20. Make sure  bathrooms are spotless.

21. And if there are any problems, train your team is to address them and deliver great service.

These are all simple things to do to ensure guests don’t regret booking at your hotel. If you have any doubts about any of these areas of your hotel, take the customer journey and review all potential routes. Encourage your team to do the same, as they might notice things to which you are oblivious.

A bad first impression of your hotel likely will cause guests to pick fault with everything, looking for anything that will confirm their first impression. You only have one chance to make that first impression. Make sure it's a good one.

Caroline Cooper works with hospitality and leisure businesses, helping them get more of the customers they love, and keep them. She has over 26 year’ experience in hospitality and is author of the Hotel Success Handbook. For more information and articles from Zeal Coaching see

The opinions expressed in this column do not necessarily reflect the opinions of or its parent company, Smith Travel Research and its affiliated companies. Columnists published on this site are given the freedom to express views that may be controversial, but our goal is to provoke thought and constructive discussion within our reader community. Please feel free to comment or contact an editor with any questions or concerns.

No Comments

  • The Jim Palmer CPA June 22, 2012 7:09 AM

    Fantastic article, Carolyn. Mystery guests demonstrate time and again, failure to make a good impression begins a long time before check-in. You are so correct about the bad taste and how it colors every thing later. Carpe Diem and make it extraordinary!!

  • Leif Karlsson June 25, 2012 2:28 AM

    Great article!

  • Anonymous July 30, 2012 1:58 AM

    Just a quick followup,Carolyn. The very best places to stay use folks like me, who check in unknown to the staff, research the deficiencies in service as a guest, and then reveal to the manager confidentially of course. Then the operational audit program is completed with a pass/fail review with the manager/owner. A followup visit is made within 90 days for any who fail. Carpe diem!! "The Jim Palmer CPA"

  • Anonymous September 19, 2012 4:06 PM

    I completly agreed as small motel owner in dix,il

  • mark September 19, 2012 4:10 PM

    I completly agreed as small motel owner from dix,il
    WE have 24 rooms red carpet inn on busy interstat with very good occupancy rate.

    your way of instruction step by step and realy applicable for traveler far distance ,how about local guest do they have this atitude ? please follow this artical....Thanks

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