Secret sauce for increasing guest satisfaction in hotels: Common sense

by April 8, 2013 8:03 pm In The News

I’ve always been a big fan of common sense – indeed, everyone should be, right?

At the core of common sense is the opportunity to deliver exceptional service. And, of course, exceptional service brings us to increased guest satisfaction, loyalty, more positive reviews and, ultimately, increased revenue.

Unfortunately, common sense isn’t as common as its name would lead you to believe it is.

Being in the hospitality industry we tend to dissect every service interaction, whether we are working or not (at least I do, as I shared in my previous post about my shoe lady).

All about cucumbers, right?

It was cucumbers that recently got me thinking once again about common sense and how it relates to service. It doesn’t just relate to service, it’s at the core of good service.

At a Greek restaurant I ordered a salad, hold the cucumbers and a grilled chicken dish served over mixed greens (no mention of cucumbers in the description). The grilled chicken came out over mixed greens with cucumbers included.

I picked the cucumbers out and thought it would have been intuitive service if they didn’t include the cucumbers since they knew I didn’t like them in the first place. Actually, forget intuitive service. There’s no mind reading or crystal ball involved here. It’s really just common sense.

I have another favorite common sense application that I would love for hotels to consider: the bottle of wine as a VIP amenity when traveling on business. I love a glass of wine as much as the next person. We all know the drill though when you’re on business.

It’s a 14-hour day: meetings from morning to night, followed by dinner and drinks, followed by getting back to your room and going through the 400 emails that you couldn’t respond to because you were in meetings from morning to night, followed by dinner and drinks. And you probably already had one glass of wine too many (you know you did).

You can’t bring the bottle of wine with you because you want to carry on your luggage and get home as fast as possible. The best amenity I ever received while traveling on business? Small stuffed animals for my kids. I was able to skip the last-minute dash for a present at the airport and return home a hero sans working-mom’s-guilt.

The bellman who takes a look at the nametag on your suitcase and call you by name, the concierge who hands you a running map when they see you in the lobby decked out in your workout gear ready to head out the door. All signs of good service. All signs of applying common sense.


Whether it’s cucumbers, wine a running map, or any host of other scenarios, common sense has a huge payoff. It sends your guests a message: I get you and what you need matters to me. And when you get your guests, do you know what you get in return?

Increased guest satisfaction, loyalty and positive reviews. All of these things turn into revenue, whether via repeat stays, word-of-mouth bookings or a glowing review that prompts someone to book that hotel after reading about it.

When you combine common sense with compassion the payoff is immeasurable. I have always been a fan of Kimpton Hotels & Resorts. In celebration of its 33rd birthday this week the brand asked guests to share favorite Kimpton memories on Facebook.

I went from fan to life-long admirer after reading this leading example of common sense and compassion:

Palomar Arlington, where I booked a room during the height of “flowering cherry festival, DC” – when I was NOT a tourist but participating in honoring the burial of my uncle at Arlington Cemetery.

Kimpton not only gave me non-high season rate, upgraded me to a suite, put flowers and a very kind note in the room…and spent two days treating me as family, offering help, condolences and a smile when needed.

Every staff member knew why I was there and made an effort to speak to me about my family member; an honored medal recipient and member of the “greatest generation” to serve his country. It was a patriotic and genuine effort on Kimptons’ behalf to do so; and as all know, word of mouth is indeed the best review.

Thank you…

REAL rewards

The bottom line is that there is an ROI to common sense. Common sense is at the core of exceptional service. Exceptional service leads to higher rankings:

Hotels with a TrustScore higher than 90 have shown an increase of about 10.5% in ADR when the TrustScore increases by 1% (which happens based on more positive reviews, which of course is a result of the great service, which of course stems from common sense).

Hotels with a TrustScore lower than 90 have shown an increase of about 4.6% in ADR when the TrustScore increases by 1%.

As my CEO Ben Jost recently said: “It’s half man, half machine” of the philosophy behind reputation management and what he calls The Reputation Machine.

You can have the highest level of technology, monitoring, the fanciest suites and the best food. If you’re not delivering on the service end, the rest is virtually meaningless.

The next time you’re racking your brain on how to impress guests stop trying so hard. It’s common sense. And common sense is about doing the right thing, which leads to good karma, which leads us to a post for another time.