We also tour them through the suite when they arrive and at that time, we remind them of our expectations. Point out the amenities, give them tips about where to go, show them where the brochures are, things like that. There is always going to be someone who doesn’t understand something you assume is really basic so I tell them, “I know some of this is going to sound so basic it’s practically insulting but everything I am telling you is based on our experience.” You can usually feel if they’re listening or not, if they’re not listening, sometimes I will just give up on them but usually, I can be funny enough to draw them back in. Humor helps.
Most of our guests are really happy to have the parameters clearly laid out. I believe our five star rating is up around 88 per cent right now.
You are always going to encounter a few people who don’t like you - Lord knows I encounter plenty I don’t like. I don’t expect them all to like us.
We also have what amounts to a bunch of “easter eggs” by that I mean, there are rewards for guests who listen. They get better breakfast treats for starters, and while everyone gets the same towels, we do have a range of bed linens, fine - better and best. Guess who gets “best?” Listen better, get nicer sheets - it’s pretty direct. Sometimes there are bath salts in the bathroom, sometimes not.
This is our home. It’s precious to us. We are not a hotel chain. Keep that in mind, there is no quality control that is going to swoop down on you because one guest got fresh raspberries and local yogurt and the other got bananas and cold cereal, or one got the vintage percale sheets and the other got the sheets you bought at costco - you do not have to offer everyone, everything. It’s a good idea to get a feel for your guest before they arrive and tailor the room accordingly. If they’re traveling with small children, for example, take that into account when you’re choosing linens etc. There have been times when I have even removed certain items of furniture before a guest arrives because I just do not trust them to leave it intact and undamaged.
Groups of college students for example - we’ll even swap out some of the art if they’re undergraduates.
Unless their bedroom is somehow attached to the pool, I would probably not even let most guests see it.
We are as generous and positive as we can possibly be in our reviews. However, I am absolutely frank in our star ratings of guests. I would say we’ve had about 40 per cent who would qualify as “super guests” and most of the time it’s not because they left the suite in a mess, Most people leave the place pretty tidy. it’s because they simply could not, or would not, listen.
We get a lot of folks wheedling to come early, ask me once - fine, it’s understandable. Ask me three times or more and your communication rating starts to drop through the floor. We probably won’t say anything about it in our review, but if guest star ratings ever come into play, those folks won’t be making it into the upper ranks. I do not appreciate being waylaid repeatedly to answer questions I have already answered, and quite forcefully at that. We have very busy lives, all this chatter takes time.
I added it up once, it took three hours of explaining why they could not check in early over the course of a week. If I were charging them for my time, they could not afford to stay here.
I’m sure most of these people are completely lovely, wonderful people in their day-to-day lives but that is not always reflected in how they are when they travel. One recent guest expected to be able to check in half an hour before the previous guest’s check-out time.
All I can think is, they get into this holiday-brain thing and they can only think about themselves.
Anyway, all too often talking to “holiday brain” is like talking to children so I try to make everything as clear as I would to a four-year-old without being condescending. That gets the best results. Simplify everything you say and when in doubt - leave it out. Do not grant access to things that might cause you problems later.
It sounds complicated but it becomes instinct pretty quickly.
That’s my best advice - for now anyhow.