Luxury Academy Hospitality Training reveals how you can bring the wow factor to the guest experience
1. Wow your guest at hello
It’s an iron law of hospitality that first impressions count. Wow your guests before they arrive by using the time between booking and arrival. Send a brief, presonalised text message or email a week or so before the hotel booking to confirm the reservation again and let them know you’re looking forward to welcoming them to your hotel.
How it wows: Bookings are often made a long time in advance; a note like this reassures the guest that all is well, and makes them feel welcome before they arrive.
2. Reading body language
The moment of arrival is the greatest unknown for you and your guests. Travel disruption, flight delays, fretful children, bad weather — the trials of travel are legion. Read your guests’ body language when they cross the threshold of your hotel; some want nothing more than a speedy progression to the sanctuary of their room, others want the human touch — a sympathetic smile and a soft landing.
How it wows: It sets the tone of a guest stay gracefully, reassuringly and quietly. Fluency in body language is a small wow, but a significant one.
3. Names and faces
Recognition is an easy win for a hotel; returning guests like to be recognised and remembered, first-time guests appreciate being addressed by name as part of the home-from-home experience. For an extra wow, programme guests’ telephone numbers into your system and greet them by name when they call.
How it wows: A standard hotel telephone greeting is considerably warmer when the guest hears their name mentioned at the end of it. It’s unexpected too — and nothing beats a nice surprise.
4. Inform and assist
Keep an eye on travel news in the area and tell your guest in advance of any likely disruption. If you know where your guest is travelling from, for an enhanced wow make it someone’s task to keep tabs on live travel feeds and send brief, helpful text messages to help your guest avoid some roads or prepare for delays on others.
How it wows: Your guest’s journey was just made that little bit easier; it counts for a lot.
5. The person behind the name
Remembering names is one thing; remembering who’s behind the name is another. Your guests are leaving all kinds of clues while they’re staying at your hotel — pillow preferences, which daily newspaper they want to see on the breakfast tray, whether they preferred still or sparkling water in the room — and it takes only a moment to build those small details into a thumbnail sketch that you can shade in every time the guest returns.
How it wows: It doesn’t just meet expectations; it anticipates needs, creating a genuine home-
6. People, not room numbers
Avoid asking guests for their room number at breakfast, supper, or when booking any of the hotel’s facilities. A name should be enough. Train staff to refer to a guest’s name, even when the guest isn’t within earshot: “room service for Mr Jackson” is better than “room service to room 142”.
How it wows: The culture of the hotel feels warmer, more intimate, and makes the guest’s journey through the hotel far easier.
7. We thought you’d be interested in…
If, on a previous stay, you helped a guest with booking tickets for a concert, play, exhibition or sporting event, keep an eye on nearby events in similar territory that may appeal to them this time. Include event information in the welcome note in the room and on in-room tablets, link to or snip local and national press reviews, and if other guests have been happy to leave their own thoughts and reviews, include those too.
How it wows: Even if guests have researched online before arrival, knowing their tastes bolsters the feeling of recognition.
8. Departing from the script
It can be easy for staff to fall into a flattened, machine-like intonation of the same phrases during a busy day. Variations on a theme of “is there anything else I can help you with, Mrs Jackson?” are more engaging, easier to inflect and less likely to come across as by-rote responses.
How it wows: It loosens the stays of formality, and puts guests at their ease.
9. Tell your local story
Whether staying for business or pleasure, everyone likes to feel located and enjoy a sense of place, both within the hotel and beyond its walls. Keep up to date with local events, brief staff on local history, what’s new and be ready to pass on the kind of inside information only a local knows.
How it wows: Your guest feels part of somewhere rather than a traveller with a guide book, strengthening the bond between you and your guest.
10. Looking after the children
More young families are entering the luxury boutique hotel sector than ever before, and it’s becoming a business essential to cater to the youngest guests. Find out the age and gender of the children, and assemble a welcome pack just for them; this could include a brightly-illustrated child-friendly menu, a book for bedtime, a small treat to eat and drink. Make sure the grown-ups’ welcome pack includes local events, children will enjoy and any extra child-friendly services the hotel offers.
How it wows: The more thought that goes into a child’s stay, the more appreciative the parents and guardians. Once you’ve wowed the children, you’ve almost certainly wowed the grown-ups.
Visit www.luxuryacademy.co.uk for training tips.