by Alan Weiner
As consumer preferences increasingly trend in the direction of experiences rather than material goods, it’s easy to forget what makes up a great hotel experience.
Even the smallest of factors, including certain hotel essentials, can make guests’ visits go from blah to wow in no time.
So which hotel essentials make the biggest impact on your customers’ experiences? Read on to learn about 10 of the most common on-demand hotel essentials.
A Coffee Machine
The coffee machine is a staple of just about every office and home in the United States. And it should be a given by now for hoteliers. However, several years ago, the Washington Post reported that hotels were increasingly getting rid of coffeemakers, or replacing them with single-serve machines. This, they said, was partly caused by cutbacks when the economy took a turn for the worse.
But in a USA Today article, Christopher Elliot found that one of the most-requested amenities among frequent travelers is a coffee maker. The travelers that Elliot interviewed say they are frustrated with hard-to-use coffee makers that only make “one tiny cup at a time.”
This customer desire holds up internationally too, as Dion Bosch says in Hotel News, “Travelers love the idea of a good in-room, hot beverage like the ones they can prepare at home.”
Toothbrush and Toothpaste
Traveling can be hectic, even if it’s for leisure, and guests tend to forget things. When you can save the day by solving their problem and providing them what they need, that’s a memorable experience for them.
In fact, many hotels are already doing this. As Kiplinger points out, “A call to the front desk might score you a host of other grooming supplies including a toothbrush, toothpaste, razor, and shaving cream.”
If you choose not to have a toothbrush and toothpaste on hand, you’re giving up an opportunity to serve your customers. And, even worse, you’re giving your competitors an opportunity to serve your customers better than you did.
Blackout drapes are a big deal for many business travelers. As The Points Guy highlights, “If you’ve flown overnight and arrive very early in the morning and need a few hours of sleep during daylight, blackout drapes can be a godsend to getting on the right time zone.”
For guests who are not traveling through time zones, this essential is still helpful. When people come to your hotel, they’re going to be sleeping in a strange place, so you should have everything they need to get a good night’s sleep.
Not to mention, a well-rested guest is a happier guest, and that bodes well for the rest of their experience.
While it might seem unique to have your own branded toiletries, this can actually backfire. This is why, as the Washington Post reports, “The Marriotts and Hyatts of the world have stopped tagging their toiletries with their own names in favor of [other brands].”
It’s a small detail, but definitely not insignificant, and it makes sense. After all, what soap brand do you think most people trust and feel good about using: Dove or your hotel’s branded version?
Supplying your hotel with the right kind of toiletries is so important we’re dedicating another number to it. Moreover, if your hotel doesn’t cater to travelers who might care about the brand of your toiletry, you should focus on what matters most to them. And that is quality they will remember and appreciate.
The Boston Globe advises that placing a fresh cluster of products on the vanity before a guest’s arrival sends a clear message that the hotel is committed to pampering its guests.
No list of important essentials is complete without the mention of free Wi-Fi. In fact, according to research by Hotels.com, 30 percent of respondents indicated complimentary Wi-Fi as their top factor in choosing a hotel for leisure stays.
For business travelers, Wi-Fi is even more important. Fifty percent of respondents to the Hotels.com survey say, “Free Wi-Fi is their must-have when traveling for business.”
Snacks and Food
“Food is a major issue for any traveler,” according to a study by Samsung. Whether it’s a varied selection of in-room snack options or free breakfast in the hotel lobby, Samsung’s research found that “getting food or snacks without having to leave the hotel,” was very important for hotel guests.
The study also reveals that guests “are not happy when they have to search for a snack.”
For anyone paying attention to consumer preferences in general, it should come as no surprise that demand is growing for environmentally-friendly products. Consumers are becoming ever more aware and concerned with how the products they use impact the environment.
In an interview with Hotel News, supply expert Robert Dupree, says, “Hotel guests increasingly are demanding body care products that harm neither their skin nor their environment.” However, this goes beyond just body care products. Any essential product that may harm the environment should be scrutinized. If it’s cost-effective to use a green alternative, it’s time to do it.
You might argue that welcome gifts don’t qualify as “essentials,” but with heated competition for guests, welcome gifts may well become a must-have essential. And you can’t argue that your guests won’t appreciate it.
According to research by PwC, “Business travelers of all ages, along with leisure travelers aged 30+, also value personalized experiences, including welcome gifts at check-in or in the room.”
But what kind of welcome gift? Well, the key word to look for in PwC’s research finding is “personalization.” Your welcome gift should be personal to your guest or at least unique to your location.
Support for Gadgets
Like it or not, consumers in the United States are glued to their gadgets. Whether they’re traveling for business or leisure, guests may need charging docks, cords, or headphones. Given how many different types of phones and other devices are out there, you should have a wide variety of cords so you’ll be able to meet all your guests’ electronic needs.
This list should give you a strong place to start when you begin to identify your hotel’s must-have essentials. That said, be sure to ask your guests and survey employees to uncover new ideas. While each hotel guest has certain basic needs, understanding the small nuances between different guests’ needs can make the experience even more memorable for them.
About the Author
Alan Weiner is the President of Weiner’s Ltd, a wholesale supplier of travel size products to businesses ranging from intimate B&B’s to large five star hotels, gift shops in hospitals and airports, as well as airlines and charter services, college bookstores, e-commerce, pharmacies, vending, government institutions, charities and event planners. For more info, please visit https://weinersltd.com.