The standards you set for your inn make the difference between success and failure, profit and loss, or just getting by. The American standard of hospitality is a good standard to aim for, though setting your sights higher will bring you better ratings and all that goes with that; be the best of whatever category you desire. Standards of safety and security, cleanliness, and your overall hospitality are under discussion in this article.
I’m going to be a bit controversial here and suggest you exceed your inn’s standards. Your standards are: the style you intend to use in your business; what your guests look for as part of their experience at your inn; how you respond and react to your guests needs and comments. Exceeding your standards ensures you’ll be the best you can be. That is part of your formula for success.
Why would you want to exceed your own standards, as opposed to just meeting them? So you can shine in the category you have defined as your level of business and service. If you want to be a three-diamond or -star establishment you need to not only adopt the requirements for that category of service, but also incorporate some of the suggestions for a higher rating. You will stand out in the crowd and that will improve your business and reputation.
I’m look at explore this topic from three angles: exceed your standards from the perspectives of Safety/Security, Cleanliness, and Hospitality. Each angle will be covered in a separate article, so be sure to read all three.
Do your guestroom doors have locking knobs and privacy locks? It’s a requirement of many licensing bureaus and associations, and it’s pure common sense. I feel it’s very important to offer the option of locking the door regardless of which side of it a guest is on. Guests have a right to protect their belongings and themselves. It’s fine if a guest chooses not to lock their door, but it’s a shame if they want to and can’t. Not having the choice decreases their comfort, and thus their impression of your inn. Not giving guests the option to lock the door as they come and go also raises your liability.
Are there night lights in the guest rooms and the common areas? If so, have you considered equipping them with light sensors so you don’t waste electricity during the day or have to remember to turn them on when the light gets dim? Take care that the light isn’t so bright or positioned such that it shines in the guests’ eyes as they sleep, detracting from their sleep comfort. This is just the sort of thing you should be looking for when you periodically spend a night in your rooms.
Is there emergency lighting in your rooms, whether public and private, halls, or stairways? Flashlights don’t qualify as emergency lighting because they don’t automatically come on. There are plug-in emergency lights that come on when power is lost and can act as a flashlight to help the guests evacuate if required. Do your guests know how to contact you if they have an emergency, day or night?
Speaking of emergencies, what are you doing about fire extinguishers around the inn? You just never know what’s going to burst into flame that makes an extinguisher handy to have close by. Even when you don’t allow combustibles in your guest rooms, guests sometimes take rules into their own hands. Be prepared for the unexpected.
Evacuation maps are another great safety feature. I have seen variations on the evacuation maps we have all seen in hotels — a floor plan/map of the inn and grounds, showing egress options, as well as innkeeper location, fire extinguishers, pathways, fountains and other important items (some not even emergency items, like cookie jars).
How well lit are your parking areas, and do you have lighted walkways to the inn? How do you secure your guestroom and front door keys? Is there a phone in the inn that’s available to your guests 24 hours a day? Providing a pay phone outside is the next best thing to a phone in the inn, but lacking in class and consideration. Even in the day of the omnipresent cell phone, sometimes a wired land line is a good safety measure to take.
As promised, Part 2 covers Cleanliness