I really do appreciate that hotels are doing more than ever to invest in the guest experience.
As far as the major hotel chains go, Starwood is really make an effort to customize the stay experience for elite members, at least on a corporate level (the challenge is that it’s always up to the individual hotel to execute, and that can be challenging at times).
Sometimes corporate’s vision is well executed, and sometimes it’s not.
For example, if I arrive at a hotel and there’s a welcome amenity waiting for me, that delights me (of course that’s assuming I didn’t select it as my “welcome gift,” if applicable). Who doesn’t like some drinks and snacks waiting for them when they arrive at their room? That’s genuinely a “surprise and delight” move, and a great way to make a guest’s stay memorable.
I got that recently at the Sheraton Gateway LAX, and it definitely left a positive impression.
Conversely, I’m not quite sure I get the way in which many non-destination hotels are investing in the guest experience. For example, I stayed at the Sheraton Skyline Heathrow a while back, and at check-in they have an “SPG Ambassador” that welcomes you. I had come off a longhaul flight and just wanted to get to my room, so personally small talk without a purpose doesn’t actually improve my stay… especially at an airport hotel, where I just want a good night of sleep.
I’m soon staying at a Westin that’s an airport hotel, and just received an email from the “experience specialist,” which reads as follows:
My name is ____ and I am the Westin Experience Specialist at The Westin ______. I wanted to introduce myself and offer my services for your upcoming visit.
As a Platinum Starwood Preferred Guest member, your stay with us is extremely important. If there is anything I can do to best prepare for your stay or if you have any information that could help us serve you better (arrival time, purpose of your visit, special occasions, bedding preferences, fitness needs, etc.), we will do our best to personalize your stay to your needs.
If there is anything I can do for you, please reach out via telephone at ______ or by e-mail: ______.
Westin Experience Specialist
Now maybe it’s just me, but my expectations of airport hotels are pretty simple:
- Have an efficient/punctual shuttle
- Have comfortable beds without bed bugs
Maybe I’m just jaded, but I don’t expect an airport hotel to execute stuff very well beyond that. Realistically, what could I request based on the above email? I could let them know the purpose of my visit and when I’ll be arriving, but that doesn’t really help me. Special occasions, fitness needs, and bedding preferences? If this were a destination resort I’d get that, but for an airport hotel?
I’m not trying to rag on this hotel specifically, because I do appreciate that they’re trying. Instead, I just kind of feel like hotels are a bit off in how they invest their resources in the guest experience:
- I booked the Park Hyatt Maldives, and the hotel didn’t reach out to me to tell me about how transfers work, upgrade options, etc. (which is something you’d think they would do as soon as you book for a $1,000+ per night hotel, given that you can’t even get to the hotel without arranging transfers through them)
- For an airport hotel, an unprompted welcome amenity or just an upgrade that I’m entitled to would make me really happy, as opposed to unnecessary contact
So it all just seems a bit backwards because I rarely receive such an email from a St. Regis or Park Hyatt destination resort, while I do receive it from an airport hotel.
Am I off base? Is an “experience specialist” a good use of money at all hotels, or does it depend on the type of hotel? Does the way you want to be interacted with differ based on where you’re going? And is there anything I should ask the “experience specialist” for to see if there’s really any value to such contact?