Category Archives: Guest Experience

Day Use Hotel Rooms

Lost your flight and want to stay some more hours in town?
You have 2 business meetings and want to break between those?

Ever heard about Day Use Hotel Rooms?

In last years in Europe, and in Italy as always a little bit later, the use of hotels during the day is expanding.

According to Google Trends the search for the keywords “day use hotel” in last 5 years (2013-2018) has grown constantly, in Europe, United States and South America.

Day Use: how it works

Day use services are generally available between 9:00 AM and 12:00 PM at an average price discount of 50% compared to regular hotel booking rates. Discounts can be also of 75% – 90% in some cases. Not only the room is interesting in this formula, but also the access to the Spa of the hotel, the Swimming Pool or the Meeting Room.

The players

One of the most popular services is DAYBREAKHOTELS:
https://www.daybreakhotels.com
I particularly love their idea of a new type of traveller: the DayBreaker.

In their words:

Founded in February 2013, DayBreakHotels platform has created a new philosophy of lifestyle and a new type of traveller: the DayBreaker.
Without having to wait on weekends, vacations, or annual holidays, the DayBreaker is someone who says yes to comfort during long layovers in airports or train stations, for instance. The DayBreaker mentality is one that lives within all individuals who believe that luxury can be a part of their lives as well, even for just a few hours. Our multi-faceted platform works to suit the needs of every client, from the business manager looking for a place to work or freshen up between appointments or tired airline travellers in need of a place to rest. The service also extends to individuals who need a place to rest up and relax; a short break between planes or long drives.

Another platform is DAYUSE: https://www.dayuse.com/
This online platform allows as well to book hotel rooms during the day, with an offer of 4000 hotels in the world and 700 in Italy. Last luxurious acquisitions are the 5 stars Excelsior Hotel Gallia in Milano and the 5 stars Palazzo Montemartini in Roma.
Dayuse.com in Italy in 2017 has registered a +60% in the luxury segment.

Those data demonstrates that this business model is very solid and it capture all travellers in transit, the business travellers and the daycation travellers.

Other interesting portals are:
the French ones  https://fr.roomforday.com/hotel/luxe.html and https://www.soroom-hotel.com

Everyone is happy!

Day use is a great opportunity for hotels – the same room can be sold twice in 24 hours – and for travelers, that can stay in hotels also prestigious at very convenient rates and can use the Spa. Or at least that can use a bed in which they can dispose of jet lag.

Latest trend in day use: Aperi-Use

The Italian hotel group PLANETARIA HOTELS http://www.planetariahotels.com   has launched the idea of the Aperi-Use, a private aperitif with friends in their hotel rooms, between 10 am and 7 pm.

The Aperi-Use is the occasion to taste good cocktails without a barman: just uncork the ready mixed bottle and pour in a tumbler with ice. In Planetaria Hotel rooms you can find at this purpose dry snacks and a collection of “ready made” cocktails prepared by a skillful Italian barman.

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.

How to select hotels for your itinerary

It’s a pleasure to host a post from our Client Tourissimo https://www.tourissimo.travel about how to select the appropriate set of hotels for a Tour.
We love the way Beppe Salerno https://www.tourissimo.travel/about-the-founder-beppe-salerno has clearly explained the study needed to identify a suitable set of hotels.

HOW DOES A TOUR OPERATOR SELECT HOTELS?

I am often asked how we select hotels. There is no short answer to that question, thus I decided to write about what goes into hotel selection with some practical examples from one of our cycling itineraries: Western Sicily.

First, we don’t design itineraries around hotels. Some very high-end travel companies take that approach, selecting 5-star stays and then routing the rides to, from, or around there. As you can imagine that can be a limiting factor, but in their case is consistent with what they are offering: the best hotels. The itinerary will follow.
But when I look at those itineraries – and having designed or improved many tours myself – I see that the trade-off is just too much to justify going down that path. The rides seem amorphous.
On the other end of the spectrum, low budget travel companies are doomed to select only the cheapest stays. Here, the rides still seem amorphous and the hotels are – you guessed it – cheap.

PROJECTING THE TOUR IN ALL ITS ASPECTS

Tourissimo’s approach and best practice is to design the itinerary for the best scenery and riding experience. And then seek the best available hotels close to our desired path.
Now, let me define what I mean by “best available”. If you follow our blog you realize that we strive for authenticity. We know – and most industry studies confirm it – that luxury in travel is now identified with authenticity, transformative experiences, and insider access. A four of five star hotel might or might not fulfill our prerequisites. When they do AND they are near the itinerary we drafted, Bingo!
Sometimes a charming B&B or a boutique, family run agriturismo can be our first choice. We are ok trading stars for authenticity, and charm.
In some regions – more rural and less developed tourism-wise – there’s not much offer. A few times, we’ve had to go back to the drawing board because nothing was available.
In Sicily, we knew that we wanted to incorporate a wine experience (western Sicily is a land blessed by the wine gods), and the salt farming ponds between Trapani and Marsala (yes, marsala).

AUTHENTICITY AND UNDERSTANDING THE STORY OF THE PLACE

Foresteria Planeta is owned by the Planeta family, one of the most prominent wine producers in Sicily. Their hotel is nestled among vineyards and overlooks the Mediterranean. It is a place where all details are about charm, home feeling, and authenticity.  And it all translates to the concept of luxury just described.

A copy of The Leopard is available in each room. Almost a soft spoken suggestion: “if you want to – try to – understand Sicily, take this book to the terrace and enjoy”.

And then, one of my favorite hotels thanks to its setting. To fully appreciate Relais Antiche Saline, one would have to get to know what salt has been over millennia. I’ll give you a hint: salary comes from salt. Salt – the White Gold – meant wealth and power. In ancient Rome, salt on the table was a mark of a rich patron; those who sat nearer the host were “above the salt” and those less favored were “below the salt”.

Luckily, just a salt farming pond across from our hotel a well preserved wind mill houses the salt mining museum. The hotel itself used to be the facility in support of the salt business of the Culcasi family (4 generations in the salt business).

These are just two examples of our accommodation portfolio. If you have a memorable hotel that you still dream about, we would like to hear about it!

You can find the original version of this article at the following:  https://www.tourissimo.travel/blog/highlighting-the-authentic-hotels-of-western-sicily

Digital Detox Hotels in Italy: monasteries and countrysides

Hotels amenities and services often reflect the needs of modern society (and sometimes are indicators of contemporary paranoia).
An ultimate trend in hospitality is to offer digital detox experiences in hotels were there aren’t WI-Fi connections (at least for guests, staff and administration of course use it but…secretly), and in which also interior design is studied to promote relax: special floors and furniture can even allow heart to save 3500 beats per day. (It appears that a specific Italian pine has properties in that sense and many mountain resorts in Dolomites have this specific furniture).

Recent statistics say that 25% of English travelers have made digital detox holidays in 2016 and this is happening all over the world.

What you can simply do in a digital detox hotel

In a digital detox hotel you can relax reading a book and resting from modernity, avoiding to update the world on what you are doing.
In some hotels you can leave your smartphone and digital devices at the reception and they will lock them until you will check out.
That sounds strange because we inner know how to live without a Wi-Fi connection or a smartphone, especially those among us who were born before 2000, but it seems that this was an old habit of humans.

The Italian version: monasteries and countryside

Major Italian tourism expert are debating in main fairs and conferences about digital detox tourism and how to develop it in Italy

Alessio Carciofi: “Il digital detox, bisogno primario dei nuovi turisti”

Italy is aligning on this big trend taking advantage of its heritage of monasteries and peaceful countrysides (not only Tuscany but also Umbria, Piedmont, Trentino and Puglia).

In one of main central Italian regions, Umbria, an old hermitage dated 1300 in green countryside is one of the first Resort that offered such an experience.


No phones, no internet nor TV. Guests sleep in monks cells and pass their days practicing yoga or horse rides.
In this hotel also lighting is less modern: after the dawn the only light you can find is from candles and torches.

Future destinations will be focused on health and wellness of Guests, and not only in terms of spa or beauty treatments but also on soul and deep wellness.

However at today digital detox experiences in Italy are exclusive of high starred hotels and rates are still high.

An International Hotel Professionals Fair in Italy: focus on hotel breakfast

Sia Guest International http://en.siaguest.it/ is the most important fair  for hotel professionals in Italy.

We just returned back from Rimini, where it was staged at the same time as TTG Incontri (Italy’s largest b2b tourism fair) http://en.ttgincontri.it/.

This International Fair is now at the 65th edition: it’s the largest negotiation and networking area in Italy for Italian and foreign hotel professionals.
Sia Guest is a meeting point for producers and buyers from all over the world: top decision makers representing Italian and international hotels and hotel chains, different hospitality facilities and architects, planners and designers.

The best of Italian hospitality for worldwide hotel professionals

We love Sia Guest because we can visit stands of so many different hotel suppliers (from bath courtesy kits to room furniture). We can see latest trends on hotel design and admire some wonderful installations as this bathroom:

homesuitehomeblog_bathroom hotel

This year the focus was on “Breakfast made in Italy”

This year the focus was on breakfast time at hotels.
The world of breakfast has changed a lot and is a calling card that hotels can use to attract loyal customers.

For this reason, a trend area showed visitors how breakfast transformed and will develop in future.
The area showcased both furnishings (tables, chairs, etc.) and mise en place (cups, glasses, etc.).

The area also illustrated how the equipment in breakfast rooms is developing, within three different offers: LIGHT, REGULAR or BOLD.

homesuitehome_Sambonet breakfast

Statistics reveals that 90% of  Clients decide to have breakfast in hotel.

It can be the last impression before leaving and it’s crucial for Guests opinion on the Hotel itself.

Finally no matter if you prefer an American or a Continental breakfast, what is important is that you will remember it as great!

img_20161014_162120

The role of Housekeeping in hotels reputation

Hospitality is giving maximum attention to details, to express the best of what an hotel can give to its Clients. We know from our experience in Hotels Inspections the importance of Housekeeping in hotels reputation. That is because this essential aspect of hotel management  impacts directly on the overall “Guest Experience”. It really can make the difference between a reputed hotel and one that guests are unlikely to visit again.

Housekeeping: the duties

The primary housekeeping duty is to ensure the cleanliness and orderliness of hotel room.

Standards are established by each brand or owner, and it is the responsibility of the general manager and the housekeeping team to ensure these standards. But there’s much more.

We have recently investigated about the state of the art of this crucial sector of hotel Operations.

The housekeeper is a manager

What emerges at first is that in certain areas of the World housekeeping is considered as much important as the reception or marketing strategies, for example in Germany, Middle East and Great Britain the housekeeper is really a managerial figure.

Elaine Walker  has been for years an experienced Executive Housekeeper in most luxurious London’s hotels. She explaines that her job is very hard, starting in early morning with the control of the lists that appropriate software provides. She uses IT tools also to control early check ins, guests’ arrival times and specific requirements. Heading a huge staff, she has strong managerial skills to coordinate everything. And great part of her work is to be responsible of an immense amount of stock: the linen, table linen, towels, hotel toiletries and janitorial equipment, beverage and food as well as coffee and tea supplies for the in-room break.

It’s a tricky job – she says -getting it all right and ensuring everything is done on time!

It’s however rare to find interviews or bios of Housekeeping Managers: I read however some interesting articles surfing the web.

I learned that the bedroom is what is done first and that what is harder is not, as I thought, realizing the “proper corner” of sheets but.. the pillows! The trick to getting them efficiently into the pillowcases is to “chop” each in half lengthwise with your forearm, fold in half along that crease, stuff while still folded into the middle of the pillow case, then slip your hand inside to spread out both sides and adjust. It’s a sort of military precision treatment. Curious also to learn that the housekeeper’s secret weapon are microfiber cloths, that not just move dust about – but really pick it up. (good to know for our houses too J)

Housekeeping in Italian hotels

In Italy the situation is a little bit old fashioned. Paola Pesoli http://www.bellavarsavia.com/ is the founder of “Professional Housekeeping” http://www.professionalhousekeeping.it a consulting company that provides professional training.

She says that in recent years many hotel managers in Italy are understanding that having professional people and long-term employees working at the housekeeping is a competitive advantage and not a cost. For that reason many hotels are investing a lot in professional training. However this awareness concerns mostly 4 and 5 star hotels and in lower star categories this attention is merely absent.

housekeeping-homesuitehomeblog_1

During our Hotel’s Inspections we always look for the behind-the-scenes staff and approach and we really aim that in Italy soon Hotels Managers will consider the Housekeeper as a crucial employee.