Time for a pop quiz! Describe your reactions, feelings and emotions toward the following experiences in one word:
• Listening to a powerful 100-piece orchestra.
• Watching fireworks on the 4th of July.
• Holding your newborn child for the first time.
• Smelling the inside of a brand new luxury car.
• Taking the first bite of a chef-prepared meal.
If you said “WOW,” then give yourself a gold star! In addition to being incredible experiences, each targets and stimulates at least one of our five senses: sound, sight, touch, smell and taste. Do you agree that, in most cases, the more heightened our senses, the more enjoyable and memorable the experience? If so, honestly ask yourself, does my independent hotel provide any experiences that make guests say, “WOW”? If not, why?
“WOW” experiences do not need to be grand gestures or expensive items. In many cases, they are simple, unexpected flourishes that make your guests’ stay more enjoyable. Independent hotels have the flexibility to weave creativity into their operations so their guests’ lodging experience is as memorable as their dining and sightseeing activities. If you’re interested in delivering signature “WOW” experiences for your guests, here are a few outside-of-the-box concepts, categorized under each our five senses, that might be just what your independent hotel needs:
• Feature local musicians in your lobby music mix and offer guests free song downloads.
• Invite your community high school marching band to perform in your parking lot on a slow weekday.
• Hire a flash mob to surprise and entertain guests with singing and dancing in your courtyard.
• Elevate exterior landscaping with elaborate flower arrangements and shrubbery designs.
• Decorate public spaces and guestrooms with affordable, but ornate fixtures and art prints.
• Partner with a lighting consultant to enhance property sightlines and brighten dim areas.
• Research smartphone-enabled, keyless entry technology for guestrooms and amenity areas.
• Consider tablet-operated controls for in-room functions and entertainment, including TV, phone and lights.
• Enhance bedding and towels with higher quality, more comfortable materials.
• Explore how scent and aroma marketing can distinguish your independent hotel from competitors.
• Incorporate fresh flowers into your lobby decor to provide welcoming, natural smells for arriving guests.
• Analyze your cleaning chemicals to ensure you aren’t accidentally creating unpleasant smells.
• Host local chef cooking demonstrations to treat guests to delicious foods.
• Offer guests tasty snacks, like candy and cookies, at check-in and during social gatherings.
• Provide destination dining packages that pair bookings with gift cards for popular neighborhood restaurants.