Exceeding Your Standards — Hospitality

This is the third article in a three-part series on being better than you are. The three parts covered are Safety/Security, Cleanliness, and Hospitality. Set your standards high, and then push beyond them. That keeps you on your toes, keeps you striving for better, and satisfying your guests’ expectations.

Start with the first article, Safety/Security. The second article, Cleanliness, follows.


Free-hanging wooden hangars are much more luxurious than other options. Provide lots of them in guestroom closets for that extra-caring touch. To make sure guests distinguish your hanger from those they have at home, consider tying a ribbon on the neck, or permanently affixing your inn’s logo on the hangar.

Another subtle oversight is around the placement of hand towels at sinks. They are used at the sink, so place them there, not across the room on the towel rack or by the shower. Help guests dry their hands quickly and easily without dripping on your floor by putting hand towels at the sink. To make the placement feel more special, roll or stack them on the counter or in a basket, or hang them from a towel ring right by the sink.

Have you reviewed your bath amenities? In addition to soap (bar and soft) and shampoo you could offer Q-tips and cotton balls, a makeup removal cloth or towelette, shower cap, emery boards, and even sewing kits. These, of course, are all branded with your inn logo, website address, and contact info. And speaking of soap and shampoo, if you really care about your guests, please provide natural products, not petrochemical based products.

Is your food service adequate or ample? If you have a bed and breakfast option, breakfast, of course, is expected. Do you offer snacks during the day, or even with a 24-hour availability? Do you offer a range of healthy food choices? Those are only the start of gestures you can make as part of your hospitality excellence.

What about options like individual climate control, TV, VCR, sound system, and gas fireplace? Do you have a guest letter that reviews important hours, how to use the phone (if you provide one), a reminder of your gift shop, and a general welcome to your guests? This would be a great place to inform your guest of details on what to do in case of emergency, as well as one more chance to state your policies (which I trust you have stated at reservation time, in the brochure, on the web site, and in your confirmation letter).

Have you provided extra blankets and pillows in the guestroom? Don’t make your guests ask for them or suffer without them. And provide non-feather pillows for your guests, catering to allergies and general comfort for some guests. There are so many pillow-style preferences it’s easy to understand why some hotels have pillow menus.

Guest refrigerators with individual creamers in the guestrooms are a plus, too. I guess if you are going to place cream in the room refrigerators, providing a way for guests to make coffee, cocoa, and tea is a plus as well. If you don’t offer guest refrigerators, your coffee/tea station can be outfitted with shelf-stable cream and creamers.

Do you have a system for recording your guest’s likes/dislikes, personal details like birthday or anniversary, or their partner’s, children’s, and pet’s names? Being able to track little details so you can use them during exchanges and their visits wins you loyalty and a very satisfied guest. This is the secret sauce of exceedingly great hospitality.

Umbrella stands, with umbrellas by your front door or in the guestrooms, is a helpful service since many people don’t travel with umbrellas. Wet regions even have umbrella bags, like grocery bags, to put wet umbrellas into when guests come in from the rain. Sweet hospitality.

People are increasingly aware of drinking pure water: what about providing a filter in each room? The filter could be at the sink or in a fruit-filled dispenser in the lobby.

Lighting is a big issue, for me and others with less-than-perfect eyesight. Is yours welcoming, especially on cloudy days and at night? Are the bedside lights fitted with 3-way switches and 3-way bulbs? Do you have lights on desks and at reading chairs, too? Is there good lighting in the shower/bath area as well as at the sink? A lighted makeup mirror would be a treat. For mood lighting in the bath, how about a dimmer switch?

What have you done about noise control? Even if you have an older building there are little things you can do to help muffle noises, such as carpet runners on wood floors, not placing headboards against common headboard walls (no two headboards share a wall, at least not at the same spot on the wall), and using solid doors for the guestrooms. If you are renovating or building from scratch, pay attention to insulating water walls, guestroom walls, guestroom floors, and ceilings, too.

There are so many little ways to raise your standards above what you have defined for yourself that will make a big difference in your guests’ enjoyment!

Some of the suggestions I have offered are expensive, but most of them are inexpensive and easy. Are you going to meet or beat your standards? Are you going to meet or beat your income expectations? It’s your choice.