Are you making common, but fixable, hotel mistakes? We compiled advice from first-hand interviews with hotel managers and other industry experts to bring you some of the issues that they hear about most.
In this post, you’ll find observations from a wide variety of perspectives and locations, meaning it’s highly likely you might recognize some of your own blunders along the way. But don’t worry — each of the following expert tips comes with ideas for how to easily solve common hotel mistakes.
But first, here are some high-level ways to avoid mistakes in hotel management:
- Look for trends among your support and sales tickets so you know what issues repeatedly come up at your property.
- Continually learn about the industry and guest expectations. Hint: They often change year to year depending on a variety of complex factors.
- Ask an expert. Whether you know one personally or simply read posts like this, there’s likely someone out there who has been where you are and can help you out.
Discover 12 common hotel mistakes (and how to fix them)
1. Bad SEO
Search engine optimization is one of the most important marketing tactics a hotel should prioritize. Well-thought-out SEO can lead to more exposure, fewer dollars spent, better leads, and an overall higher-performing business.
While there's no one-size-fits-all approach to SEO, a few areas every property should focus on include keyword research, title tags, clean URLs, linking (both internally and externally), page/site speed, and high-quality content. A great place to start identifying issues that your property and its website may be facing is with free tools offered by Google, such as Keyword Planner, Search Console, and My Business.
Additionally, to fully take advantage of all the opportunities that SEO presents, check out the following:
- Hotel SEO: 14 Tips to Maximize Your Exposure
- 6 Must-Know Technical SEO Strategies for Hotels
- Content SEO for Hotels: Why It Matters
2. Not knowing what planners want
Knowing what event planners want is of vital importance when it comes to maximizing business. However, this information often goes unnoticed or unheard, which can leave a disconnect between planners and venues. This is a negative for a variety of reasons, but the most obvious is this: Planners need venues and venues need planners. Why not be on the same page?
For example, did you know that 86% of planners say that venues will be equally or more important to the success of their in-person events in 2021 when compared to those held in 2019?
Check out Cvent's most recent planner sentiment and sourcing report to stay on top of the most important trends and industry-wide shifts, and be sure to bookmark our resources page to ensure that you don't miss out on new developments.
3. Leaving negative first impressions
Cvent interviewed Henrik Jeppesen, owner of travel site Every Country in the World, about his thoughts on common hotel mistakes after staying in and reviewing over 1,000 luxury properties. For Jeppesen, first impressions play a big role, and that includes all of the senses.
“Many hotels give a bad first impression by using cheap highly-perfumed products in the bathroom,” he said, adding that “they can fix it by partnering with a quality brand.”
How do you know if your scents are cloying or delightful? Test them out in your own home or stick to universally-loved scents such as lavender or eucalyptus.
In addition to scent, what customers see and hear when they enter your hotel can make a big difference, too, which is why things like hotel interior design, background music, and lighting can all help shape how your property is perceived.
4. Overpriced minibars
Jeppeson also said that minibars have been a universal problem in hotels across the world.
“Many hotels (have overpriced minibars), but it leaves a bad impression on the guest," he said. "They can fix and impress their guest by offering a small complimentary mini-bar. Higher guest satisfaction should equal more guests and better business.”
Common sense tells us that free stuff is always a great solution to customer dissatisfaction. But if it’s not in the budget, try shopping around for more affordable suppliers or price compare your refreshments with those of your competition.
5. Inflexible check-in/out
Jeppeson has also observed after his many jet-setting trips that hotels often make check-in/out frustrating for already-exhausted customers.
“Not being flexible about check-in/check out” is a common hotel mistake, Jeppeson said. This is especially true when it comes to short trips.
“It's not attractive to arrive after midnight, for example at 4 am, knowing you have to check out seven or eight hours later. ... I think many hotels could benefit from offering 24-hour stays from the moment you check-in."
He went on to note that properties such as the Andersen Hotel in Copenhagen set a great example for how to resolve this issue with their Concept 24 initiative. No matter what time a guest checks in, they have possession of the room for an entire 24 hours after.
6. Disrespectful staff
As a former hotel manager for a small island property, Travis Blanchard of Splash Bytes learned a lot about common hotel mistakes. His takeaway? Staff can (understandably) grow tired over time and the demands of the industry make it challenging to show up with a smile every day.
In an email with Cvent, Blanchard said he has observed and managed “rude receptionists and careless housekeeping personnel. Even when you're asking politely, and especially when it's a special request, some people's irritation just shows on their faces and translates to their tone.”
Job satisfaction is often tied to company culture, wages, and demand from customers. Taking steps toward improving all three of these areas will make it easier for staff to show up with the same energy on Day 100 as they did on Day 1. Blanchard also said that “refresher courses and training” are good first steps.
For more, check out our posts on hotel front desk training, how to prevent employee burnout, and hotel customer experience tips.
7. Not being reachable
Cvent spoke to the founder of California travel website The Atlas Heart, Mimi McFadden, who said convenient customer support is often overlooked.
"If you want customers to come back to your hotel, you must be conveniently available," McFadden said. "People would most likely not return if contacting the customer service department is difficult. Your customers expect you to provide excellent customer service whether you provide support through live chat, phone, or email.”
Tools such as hotel chatbots are really helpful for smaller properties with less staff available to take requests 24/7.
8. Not following up
McFadden also thinks that follow-up after issues are resolved is a key to a hotel’s success.
“Once you've solved your client's dilemma, make sure you follow up and make sure the problem was fixed to the customer's satisfaction," McFadden said. "If you don't do it, you'll be losing out on a critical opportunity to avoid any potential issues from occurring. Why is it so important to follow up? The main advantage is that by following up, you can erase the negative feeling and replace it with a constructive one. Since we want to recall the last thing that happened to us, you'll want to make sure that your guests leave the hotel with a memorable experience!”
A great CRM or hotel sales tool can track customer service tickets, automate follow-up reminders, and keep all team members informed on the context of requests so no one misses a beat. Which brings us to our next point …
9. Not prioritizing guest information
Missing guest information in regards to request details and context is a major mistake that a lot of hotels make.
“If your customer records aren't maintained properly and your hotel tends to make mistakes like calling a customer Mrs. Jackson when she's really Mrs. Johnson, one thing is certain: this customer will not come to your hotel,” McFadden said.
And from our observations, seemingly simple favors such as verbally extending the lifetime of Groupon is great until the guest talks to another staffer who doesn’t know about the accommodation and says it can’t be done.
As McFadden said, “while any company will make mistakes, misspelled names and other inconsistencies do not entice repeat customers to return.”
10. Giving canned responses
Another huge hotel mistake, canned responses are a dead giveaway that a hotel is more interested in pretending to be good at customer service rather than actually caring about the guest. At least that’s how some guests may see it.
McFadden advises that “you should stop offering canned or one-size-fits-all answers. Personalization is one of the latest buzzwords in the hospitality industry, and customers demand more personalized support from brands. If you want your hotel to stand out, you must provide visitors with a customized and memorable experience.”
In this instance, McFadden refers to personalization as “the recognition that each guest is unique, and that treating them as such would result in more positive responses.”
For a deeper dive on this topic, check out our posts on hotel guest communication tips and the types of hotel guests (and how to appeal to them).
11. Failing to innovate
Being stuck in your ways and not embracing change can cause a successful hotel to take steps in the wrong direction over time. Whether it's embracing the hotel digital transformation era, implementing new technology and software solutions, or even exploring eco-friendly hotel ideas, hotels that change with the times will be set up for long-term success.
According to a recent HSMAI study, however, there is "little strategic innovation" in hospitality sales, marketing, and revenue optimization (SMRO) at hotel companies based in the United States.
"Innovation in SMRO is risk-averse, focused on the short term, and convoluted. It’s big on tactics but light on strategy," the study reads.
While, just like SEO, there is no one-size-fits-all approach, the study found that "personalization and data management" emerged as a "key innovation."
12. Asking too late
Cvent interviewed Nancy Barkley, the owner and founder of Honeymoons and Getaways, about common hotel mistakes she sees in her line of work. Her point of view? Waiting too long to ask how a guest’s stay was. Instead of relying on a post-stay survey, hotels should check in while guests are still with them to see if everything is going well.
Barkley said, “A simple call or voicemail to the room so see how their stay is going and if they need anything would go a long way. This affects the hotel's business because sometimes guests have issues and rather than advising the hotel, (they) just will not stay there again.”
Avoid and overcome these common hotel mistakes!
Up next, check out 14 essential tips to boost hotel sales in the years to come.