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I wasn’t planning to write about this when it happened to me the first time, but now that it has happened on three consecutive stays I think it’s time to speak my peace.
First impressions are meaningful in just about every human interaction, including the way you perceive a hotel. Hotels spend millions and millions of dollars every year trying to create an experience that is welcoming to the guest thereby improving the chances of winning the guest’s future business and recommendation.
On my last three stays, I checked into three different hotels where I have stayed more between 50-75 nights at EACH hotel over the last 3-4 years. On these three consecutive stays, I was asked “Have you stayed here before?” at check-in. It’s like your best friend asking what your name is. This unwelcoming gesture is a terrible way to start off a stay and works in the direct opposite direction of the hotels desire to make guests feel welcome.
The luxury hotels do a good job at this, but that is about it. The Park Hyatt Tokyo was well aware of my previous stay that had happened 9 months prior. When they mentioned the previous stay, I grinned because I was so impressed and couldn’t help but feel welcome. I understand that luxury hotels have more resources available than full service or discount hotels when it comes to personalizing service for a guest but what we’re talking about is one, REALLY easy number to compute. Every hotel that uses a computer for check in should have this number. I suspect the number of stays/nights a guest has at the particular hotel is available to an agent but the practice of identifying frequent customers is either not easy to do or simply not included in the check-in training process.
I would like to point my finger at one or two chains as being the worst offenders but from my experience as an elite across most chains at one point or another, I have found only the luxury hotels are consistent in understanding their guests stay history.
The bottom line
I understand this is a very minor issue, but I think most hotels are missing a REALLY easy way to create a welcoming first impression. It is such low hanging fruit. I have to suspect the data is there but it is either not easy to find for an agent or not included in the check-in training process. When you’ve spent a lot of time somewhere, “Welcome Back” feels so much better than, “Hey Stranger”.
What are your thoughts?