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The 24-hour hotel room that made me cringe

I LOVE the idea of a 24-hour hotel room. You check in at 10 a.m. or 9 p.m. and get to keep the room for 24 hours, or thereabouts. But when I experienced my first 24-hour hotel stay, it was riddled with problems that made me cringe.

“Yes, we’re the first hotel to have a 24-hour room so you can check out 24 hours after you check in,” says the excited clerk. 

It’s 10 p.m. I’m checking in after four days of non-stop travel, 5 a.m. mornings and nine flights, and the room isn’t ready. I wasn’t even aware there was a 24-hour room policy. What I do know is that my confirmation says check-in is at 2 p.m., and eight hours later when I arrive they’re scrambling to turn a room over so I can get settled in. Without an apology, they make us wait in the lobby as they clean the room, then tell us we can check out at 10 p.m. the next day if we’d like.

99 rooms, and no system to make this work in their favor as efficiently as possible.

The next day my friend arrives at 2:30 p.m., and his room isn’t ready either. They give him a drink coupon then upgrade him to the largest suite of the hotel.

Pff.

So what should you consider when rolling out a 24-hour room policy? Here are some initial thoughts on how to avoid the issues I experienced:

  • Track arrival and departure times of guests against inventory and see if it even works. If guests roll in and out throughout the day, you have a better chance of managing this well then if a majority of guests arrive in the morning and depart in the evening.
  • Simulate the system before rolling it out. Can the front office handle it? Can housekeeping handle it?
  • Realize you can achieve the same effect without actually giving away 24 hours. It can be 22 hours. It can even be 20 hours. Guests arriving late in the evening will be happy to have the extra hours the next day without expecting it to be a full 24 hours. The lesson is you need to give yourself leeway to turn rooms over without irritating arriving guests.
  • Get arrival times and pre-plan!
  • If you don’t have many rooms and you aren’t ready to roll this out as a policy for all guests, don’t shy away from charging a small premium for it or only giving it to your most valuable guests. Most guests don’t expect a 24-hour room, and those who like it won’t mind paying a little extra. But by giving it away for free to everyone, you risk running out of inventory when you need it most.
  • Communicate this policy to guests. Don’t tell them you have a 2 p.m. check-in and noon checkout if you don’t.
  • Be ready to be flexible.
  • Be ready to handle service issues.

What other tips do you have? Please share.

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