What I really love when I inspect hotels

I am back from a 2 days hotels inspection tour in Tuscany, I have visited a good number of hotels and met staff and directors.

We will talk in a specific technical post about the procedure and the to do list of a hotel inspection. Now I will tell you what I really love when I inspect hotels.

IF YOU LOVE YOUR JOB YOU ARE HAPPIER

This time I want to focus on what I love and I find funny in doing hotels inspections, through a couple of really genuine and positive moments of one my visits ( you can find tons of articles about the positivity that comes out when you love your job and when you work with pleasant people, I suggest this: https://hbr.org/2014/11/being-happy-at-work-matters).

BEHIND THE SCENES: A FEMININE TALK WHILE VISITING ROOMS

It has been for me a pleasure to meet the director of the hotel. I always dealt with Luana, the receptionist and group agent but rarely with her.
She is a shy woman, very passionate about her hotel.

This hotel is a hystoric palace in Cortona, one of Tuscany’s oldest and characteristic little towns, a sort of hidden gem.

Luana took some keys and opened the doors of 4 or 5 rooms, different for category and views.

We visit one room per time, she points out the glass chandeliers from Burano and she confesses me that in every room there’s one. Those chandeliers are crafted and so the spare parts will never be the same than the originals. Unfortunately last week during daily rooms cleaning an employee broke one part, which is normal because their are so fragile.

We arrive in one of the Suites and I admire the wrought iron bed, with a central handpainted oval part. I love it very much! She tells me that a local artist painted the oval and that it was quite expensive. I totally believe.

However she says that they are thinking that for a Suite it would be better to have a bed with a fabric headboard so next winter closing they will replace it.
I don’t want to insist but the wrought iron bed is perfect where it is, isn’t it?

 

Every year during the winter closing they renew curtains and bedspreads. What a marvellous attention to details, as if it was their own house (even more, I’d say).

BEHIND THE SCENES 2: A CHEF FOR BREAKFASTS

Despite its 4 stars the hotel doesn’t have a proper restaurant, and this would appearently be a downside. But this is not the case: they decided to focus their attention on Breakfast. They have a Chef specialised in breakfasts, I met her with pleasure.
I have never seen a breakfast as complete and genuine as their, there’s an elegant Breakfast Menu on each table.

The buffet has many desserts (I love desserts, I admit): homemade cakes, 5 or 6 different homemade jams. A lovely basket contains different breads ( useless to say: homemade!) on which you can spread your favourite jam.

On the salty choice there is ham, sausages, eggs, bean creams…but what really surprised me was the choice of fried vegetables as eggplant in batter, prepared each morning at 6,30. Wonderful!

 

“EXCUSE ME: WHAT WERE THE GREEN CHIPS IN THE COOKIES LAST NIGHT?”

At a certain point during my “inspective breakfast” (it’s a hard work….I know !!) an american Client came on me, the chef and the director, talking near the salty buffet table, and asked for a recipe.
The previous evening she was relaxing in the reading room near the hall and tasted some biscuits that were available nearby the sofas.
“What were the green chips in the cookies? Pistachio? Green Tea Leafs?”
We started talking as four friends about crumbling tea leaves in the dough of cookies.

THE HOTEL STORYTELLING FOR OUR CLIENTS

I would really like that people staying at this hotel, as in others, knew about all those details, that they could appreciate deeply those chandeliers and those renewed curtains, that could realize the passion of a young chef for jams and vegetables.
It’s impossible to tell all of this to every Client, but knowing those aspects allows us to tell some detail in addition to the standard description when we propose a hotel instead of another.

We believe in the importance of hotels storytelling to our Clients.

FINAL NOTE:

since we don’t want to reduce our job to a classical review of hotels, we have decided not to publish the names of the hotels we partner with.
Of course the hotel I refer to in this article is one of our favourite choices in Toscana.

Why Hotels choice is crucial in tour operating

Whether you are a specialist tour operator or a generic one, you know very well that your hotels choice will strongly impact your product.
Hotels have a double role in your tour: economic and emotional.

Hotels as a main cost in tour operating

Operational costs of a tour include many voices but certainly Hotels are one of the heaviest.

Our Clients say that the cost of hotels is between 30 and 44% of their expenses. This including both the Bill itself and the preliminary phase of hotels scouting.

The rates accorded are the result of an efficient negotiation – we will talk about this in another dedicated post. Negotiation starts with an online search and comparison of rates, preferrably on its website. Online portals cannot allow an apple-to-apple evaluation, but can be a reference during contracting.

As we know well, in a successful negotiation both parts want to be satisfied.

  The negotiation process involves economical and psychological aspects. We think that having always impeccable kindness and good manners is an essential attitude of our contractors. This of course regardless of firmness.

Hotels Scoutings

The scouting of a hotel is often part of a more general scouting of the itinerary, for obvious costs reasons.

But often people that scout hotels are guides or even employees of the tour operator. They have a long list of aspects of the overall tour to check. To minimize the expenses of flights, room & board and other logistical costs for their stay in the Country, they are often surcharged and not totally focused on the hotel.
We have an experience of hotels inspections of many years and we can rely on a hotels database that covers Italy and a large part of Europe too. We have a spin-off activity that we developed thanks to some tour operators that offer various European itineraries over Italy. Our filter can allow tour organizer to by-pass this part of the scouting with confidence.

Hotels impact on your Guests emotions

The hotel is the place where your Guests rest after a day of exploring and experiencing. They close the door, find a little bit of privacy and look back on their day.
The wrong hotel can ruin their experience: they will never forgive you for a bad hotel choice. Nowadays individuals have a lot of tools to evaluate you and your products. Basically, they will never recommend you and this is critical because returning guests are even the 70% of our Clients travelers, according to our Surveys.
Probably your Guests will take a lot of photos of their hotels rooms and will post them immediately on social media with many comments. Emotions are king!
This happens both if you are offering luxury tours or budget ones. Budget tours are even more difficult for a tour programmer. It’s harder to guarantee maximum order, cleaning and quality that in a 5 star resort (http://homesuitehomeblog.org/the-role-of-housekeeping-in-hotels-reputation/)

Some bad habits in tour operating

Finally, we can say that it’s strategical to choose the right hotel in each destination and to rely on specialists to optimize the choice and the negotiation. Furthermore, being the same person doing this strengthens the hotels specialist position towards hotel management.
Finally, some unprofessional behaviors can be adopted thinking of saving time and, apparently, money:

  • Choosing hotels using online reputation engines as Booking or Tripadvisor, also because they are not targeted for groups (even small ones). You need to build a relationship with the hotel’s management to both concur to a success for your mutual Clients’ stay. Only a personal approach can allow you to obtain this.
  • Very few, luckily, take the risk of choosing the hotel remotely and trying it via their Clients first stay – using them as Guinea Pigs.

 

Home Suite Home as a guarantee in hotels choice and negotiation

As consultants for different niche tour operators we know various product targets and we learnt to match hotels with Clients Personas.
It’s all about defining together your ideal Guest and to identify hotels that he can expect and the ones that can surprise him.