The saying, “you don’t get a second chance to make a first impression,” holds so true for independent hotels –much more than their chain hotel competitors. As standalone properties, independents generally get fewer opportunities to capture travelers’ attention, provide them with great experiences and maintain their loyalty, so every interaction matters. Here are three first impression opportunities and why they truly matter for independent hotels.
Online booking experience
Since many independent hotels aren’t household brands, many travelers discover them during their online booking experience. It’s during this process where independent hotels must make a great impression or risk travelers booking elsewhere. As we’ve discussed, independents should utilize their hotel website and OTAs to provide travelers with the tools needed to make planning and booking fast and easy. Competition for online bookings is stronger than ever, so independent hotels must leverage their digital capabilities to make memorable guest impressions.
After promising travelers a great lodging experience online, independents must start fulfilling that promise the moment they arrive on-property. Every hotel characteristic, from its exterior appearance to the speed and friendliness of the front desk agents, will be compared against the expectations set by the information travelers gathered online. These initial on-property moments will set the tone for the travelers’ stay, as well as their online critiques and any future visits. The on-property arrival is a critical point in the hotel-guest relationship, so independents must devote the training and resources needed to ensure its executed well.
The moment of truth, so to speak, for travelers occurs when they open their guest room door for the first time. This is when they expect to see and experience the value they’ve paid for: neatly-made bed, clean bathroom, fresh linen, refreshed toiletries, etc. To fully “cash-in” on the hard work put into to getting travelers booked and checked-in, independent hotels must get this final first impression right.
Making each of these first impressions memorable for every guest is the reason why the best independent hotels hire excellent teams, invest in their training and utilize operations-enhancing hotel software. For these hotels, first impressions are much more than brief moments, every great first impression is a valuable investment in the hotel’s long-term future.