Differentiation is now the name of the game in hotel management (as well as B&B owners). For all of the flash and glitz, some hotels are taking extreme measures to create a circle of "special for themselves". Check out the Borgata Hotel and Casino in New Jersey, who recently announced the installment of in-room gambling systems (via TV). Guests can gamble up to $2,500 a day without ever leaving their hotel room. It's an extreme form of differentiation and while an ethical cloud hangs over the decision, the outcome is the same: Hotels are adding more and more abilities to their own "feature" list, and it becomes part of the appeal (for better or worse) to be exposed to the new.
Whether guests are searching for an extravagant outing filled with gambling and glitz, or the quiet stay in the countryside, the differentiation concept extends to all lodgings and venues. The question is, how are you shaping your own hotel or B&B for that 'extra appeal'?
You have to ask yourself, what makes my lodging/location unique? Do you have a nearby attraction or sightseeing opportunity? Have you rebuilt your lodgings and outfitted them with automation systems? If I stayed at your lodging once, will I expect the same service/experience in the second time around? All of these questions are centered around differentiation, that is, making your lodging unique and personalized to your guests (as much as you possibly can).
Though many owners and operators may not include a gambling angle to their "offerings", the Borgata shows how hotels are changing their focus. No longer are flat screens, designer bedding and "room" service part of the premier hotel experience. These are now considered to be 'standards'. The new age of hotels and lodgings are making incremental improvements to make each guest have a unique experience. There are larger changes, like building automation systems and other monitoring devices that are useful for allowing guests ultimate control over their hotel rooms, or rather, the convenience of an easy-to-use system that allows you (the owner) to make their stay more comfortable and personal. While there are a variety of improvements to make, both guest-based and owner-based, the same concept drives the need for these changes: differentiation. For hotbed tourist areas that include Inns and Hotels in close proximity to one another, this concept becomes even more necessary to consider. If a tourist spot or sightseeing attraction is nearby, then mere proximity to a 'national landmark' for example, may be a standard offering for other hotels and inns in the area. The key here, is to seek to differentiate yourself to drive appeal with static attractions that other hotels or inns may have.
On the one hand, building automation systems (that is, differentiation by management style) can be an important key to unlocking the personalized guest experience. On the other hand, preventing difficulties and avoiding annoyances are an extra benefit that these systems provide. As B&B's and hotels are shaped largely by their customer reviews, a line like "pool was freezing cold during our August stay" can be seriously damaging to your reputation. Logging and monitoring temperatures in pools, rooms, food refrigerators and other guest-based comfort zones (like a sauna) can be an extra safeguard against that type of negative experience. Guests are particular, guests are expectant, and most of all, guests can be sensitive to abnormalities or embarrassing mistakes. Don't be one to find out that your pool's heating system is broken by reading an angry customer review. Prepare yourself for these issues, and lean towards the new and improved "B&B 2.0". Make full use of automation technologies and guest-focused improvements and offerings, and sometimes even the smallest additions can make the largest difference.
What improvements, changes, and/or upgrades are you making to your lodging to improve your appeal?