Hotels do not understand the needs of the modern traveler

Customer-service_hotelsI can say I am surprised at how far behind hotels around the world are when it comes to understanding the needs of the modern business and leisure traveler in major metropolises such as London, Hong Kong, Sydney, and Toronto.

While this is written, of course, to establishments that sell themselves as the place for frequent visitors to retire for the night, the frustrations expressed here could be adapted for those who wish to please travelers in all areas of the global market.

Valuing Customers

It is easy to dismiss complaints from people who patronize the hotel on large corporate accounts negotiated into yearly or multi-year contracts, corporations whose employees have little say in where they get to stay on a work trip. But a lack of foresight into a traveler’s needs translates into loss of revenue in a world where we now have choices about where to stay when we travel on our own time and when bad reviews ricochet through social media.

With the rise of Air BnB and other online private-stay options, it behooves hotels to not let any customer leave with a sour taste in the mouth over petty nickel-and-diming and frustrating late-night hunts for electrical outlets.

WiFi Service

I wrote a whole essay once with the title “The case for complimentary WiFi”; but I’ll spare you the bulk and attempt to sum it up. Somewhere, somehow, in some conference, it was decided that swimming pools be carved out, cheap reproducible art be always hung on the walls, and shampoo bottles be provided with no questions asked but Internet—woe to this most used function of modern man!—would remain a pariah of the standard amenities offered at no extra charge.

In today’s world of de facto cable television availability and always a hair dryer to be found the realization that free wifi is more elusive than the bar serving your favorite whisky at the average 3-to-5-star stay is absurd. I didn’t ask or even need some of the amenities provided at near-ubiquity but at when internet connectivity translates to deadlines being met, loved ones being alerted, and news sources perused, I have only by force been able to avoid connectivity on a non-vacation trip.

Why can’t hotels manage to find a way to incorporate the wifi fee into the flat rate and just save us all the hassle? And I’m even addressing the increasingly old “normally WiFi is [insert-over-the-top-rate here] a night but with this access code the fee is waived”.

Why don’t they just go ahead and add “normally we would give you once-used towels but with this voucher you can have clean ones”. Even the thought that a hotel contemplated charging me for what I consider to be a very basic service is enough to get my rancor.

Outlets

It’s nice to know I can get a good night’s sleep but it’s also nice — and necessary — to wake up to phones and laptops whose batteries are full. Places to charge electronics are surprisingly elusive, in rooms whose practical updates haven’t been considered since the 1980s, when communication was done by hotel telephone. Outlets are located behind large desks, in far corners behind television stands, and sometimes require lamps to be unplugged.

Very rarely are hotels world-wide retrofitted to include outlets next to bedside tables—where they are most useful, easiest to find, and least cumbersome to be tethered to.

And More Outlets

If your hotel is a name-brand, sits in a global metropolis, brandishes a multiple-star rating, and caters to even one foreigner a year, it should go without saying that at least one outlet adapted for international plugs should be standard to every room.