5-Star post-pandemic vacation takeaways

After two years hunkered down here in Toronto, Canada, one of the two of us (Larry) splurged for his first trip to Europe amidst the ongoing labor challenges this past summer. This includes several 5-star properties and a cruise around the Iberian Peninsula. While there were some nightmares, including lost luggage for his wife, there are plenty of great observations about how every hotel can improve its service offerings heading into 2023.

Guests addressed by their names: This is and will forever be the base hallmark of personalization. Achieving this requires lots of training, attention to detail, a good routine of stand-up meetings or briefings and great software to connect all the service dots. None of this is exclusive to the luxury segment either.

Arrival experiences matter: Minimal wait times are critical. Even something as simple as having the receptionist walk around from behind the front desk to remove the physical barrier for the greeting. Welcome refreshments, especially when reflective of the brand, are always warmly received.

Guestroom arrival amenities also matter: It’s a little touch, but a simple presentation on the coffee table or console can often suffice. Think handwritten notes by a manager or (gasp!) free bottled water.

Incredible housekeeping: The opt-in and opt-out debate aside, one observation from this latest vacation was that great housekeeping and turndown create a wow moment that is seldom forgotten. While addressing guests by name makes them feel at home, immaculately cleaned rooms make them think of your hotel as better than home. If you are struggling with labor – in particular, the housekeeping department – then it’s something to consider insofar as the emotional impact this operation has on guests as well as what that may imply for future growth.

Given budgets and branding, it’s often difficult to compare 5-star properties and luxury cruise ships to the rest of the hospitality world. Nevertheless, these four tips should show that no matter the guest type people all have some core drivers for satisfaction can hotels can aim to excel at. Heading into 2023, always think about perfecting the basics of the guest experience before reaching too far.