While not everyone chooses to make a career out of it, most people do travel at some point in their lives (how's that for a blanket transitional statement?!). But there is a huge knowledge gap between being the end user (another industry term, though a fairly self-explanatory one) versus being on the business side of globetrotting, and I have a hunch that the general population would be at the very least curious about how a hotel is run or what flight attendants do while an entire plane full of people is konked out watching reruns of Big Bang Theory on a transatlantic flight. So while the rest of this post is geared more toward hoteliers and other industry people, in the future I'm going to try spotlighting some of the interesting things that go on "behind the scenes" in the world of travel. Some of it may be dry, but who knows--maybe I'll uncover a juicy secret or two as well. Stay tuned!
Note: The article below was originally published on LinkedIn.
Over the last six months, I've been on over a hundred site inspections throughout countless Chinese cities in my quest to expand my product knowledge and make sure we are delivering the best accommodations to our clients. During my last trip to Shanghai, I visited nearly forty luxury hotels in the span of five days. While I was there, I began thinking about how these site inspections could be improved, and today it's my pleasure to share those tips with you.
1. Make sure the keys work. This may sound basic, but you'd be surprised how many times I have waited in a nondescript hallway while the sales manager goes back down to the front desk to get a new key. Taking five minutes to do a quick key check before I arrive would save us both a lot of time and awkwardness.
2. Know the drill. Hotel layouts can be confusing, and sometimes finding your way back to the elevator feels like a bizarre exercise in maze-solving. If you are leading a site inspection, please figure out beforehand if we need to make a right turn or a series of left turns in order to get to that corner room suite. My high-heeled feet will thank you.
3. Keep phone calls to a minimum. I have absolutely no problem with someone answering a quick call while we're making our way from the executive lounge to the fitness center, and occasionally have to take those calls myself. But if your phone is ringing off the hook with urgent business so much that you are unable to introduce the room featuers without interruption, my impression of your hotel's service is guaranteed to plummet.
4. The knock. In the span of thirty seconds, this simple gesture tells me a lot about a hotel. My recommendation is to find a balance between brazenly walking into a guestroom with no regard for the remote possibility that you've been given keys to an occupied room, and shouting "SITE INSPECTION" while knocking for two minutes and giving the impression that you are sincerely unsure whether there is anyone behind that door.
5. Stand out. People who are inspecting your hotel are almost certainly inspecting your competitors' hotels, sometimes even on the same day. Having a beautiful property that speaks for itself is rarely enough to be truly memorable. This can be as simple as highlighting those aha! features by demonstrating them (don't just tell me about your in-room Sirius radio with surround sound and 100 stations--push the button and show me). One sales team brought an iPad along with photos of how their atrium can be transformed for an event. On another inspection of a particularly huge Beijing hotel, after we'd been inspecting grand ballroom after junior ballroom for what felt like an hour, we walked out of a breakout room to find cool towels and fresh juice waiting for us. That well-timed moment had us all thinking, 'If this is how they treat us, just imagine how well they will treat our clients!' Mission accomplished.
What do you think? What other tips do you have for successful site inspections?