The world of hospitality is constantly changing and we are spending a considerable amount of time examining trends and benchmarking what we do against other hotels. It’s important to avoid falling into the trap of becoming complacent and we’re striving to improve in all areas. Although our guests are happy with the standard of service that we provide, based upon feedback received over time, we appreciate that there is always more that can be done.
One change that has been sweeping through the hospitality industry in the UK has been the rise of low-cost, often low amenity places to stay. These are based, more often than not, on a low staffing model too. So what we see is hotels that offer very basic in-room facilities. Often individual rooms will be smaller than is found in traditional hotels (this allows the owner to fit more rooms and hence more guests into the total available space), while other elements will be reduced in rooms. There may not be air conditioning, the television may be smaller, linen may be less luxurious and so on.
Typically, guests may see rooms and communal areas being cleaned less frequently, check-in may be more likely to be automated and room service is unlikely to be available. In fact, there’s an increasing trend to avoid providing restaurant facilities: there may simply be food vending machines on the site.
At the opposite end of the scale, in some senses, is the trend to increase service provision. This is sometimes accompanied by an increase in prices, but may also simply be an attempt to increase residency rates (at the likely cost of a lower margin per booking). The additional extras can vary in nature.
Taking the top end, where millions of pounds are invested in a renovation, the introduction of a swimming pool and spa offers the opportunity to transform a hotel, interesting new guests who might otherwise not have considered staying there.
Smaller changes are also possible that are seen to add a small element of luxury. We were reading recently about the introduction of toasters into some hotels, in conjunction with Number67. The idea here was that some guests might not wish to make it down to breakfast, but neither do they like the idea of paying over the odds for something as simple as a slice of toast. The solution, as proposed, was to place a relatively high spec toaster within each room.
The idea of providing additional extras to add value seems like a good one, although we weren’t convinced that a toaster would be ideal. In practical terms, would this mean that bread would also be provided? Toasters tend to be relatively messy household appliances, with crumbs spilling out on to surfaces. A seemingly small extra might actually end up costing more than it is worth in this case.
On the other hand, we’ve received some excellent feedback from guests since we made the decision to ensure that Egyptian cotton towels were used in every room. For the hotel, this represented something of an investment. It would be cheaper to opt for rather more basic linen. However, our guests have been so appreciative of the change and have left feedback accordingly, so we believe that the value added has made the investment worthwhile.
Trends will continue to change and to evolve. Our own position is to look at what will work for our guests and to base decisions on that thought. We’ll continue to do that and we welcome any suggestions that you may have.