Attractive amenities have been the cornerstone of high-end hotel stays for decades. Those little extras that properties include often sway guests to stay at one hotel versus another. More importantly, creative additions can lead travelers to recommend a particular resort to their friends, and check-in again next time they are in town.
Some amenities like a chocolate on your pillow during turndown service, or a “welcome” drink upon check-in have become standard, and these days often fail to create interest or buzz amongst travelers. In fact, some traditional amenities are being completely cut out of the hotel experience says Jason M. Friedman, General Manager of The Siam, in Bangkok, Thailand. “We’ve cut out champagne on arrival as it really has no effect on increasing the value of the guests’ experience nor does it show guests that you have thought about something special for them. It’s actually a very common amenity that does not impress anymore. We have also stopped with chocolate or prepared food amenities in the room.”
Seth Hoeger, Managing Director at Song Saa Private Island, in southwestern Cambodia, thinks the ante’s being upped with amenities, but says practical, useful inclusions impress visitors. “Guests are expecting much more value for their dollar when they travel. It may not be so much adding amenities but changing how current ones are positioned. One way of doing this is to make the minibar complimentary.” “Nothing is more frustrating than having to pay US$10 for a can of Coke. Also providing complimentary WIFI is something the majority of travelers appreciates having in their rooms. These are two examples of existing amenities at any hotel that could be the difference of receiving that booking or not. Even if the room rate is a little higher, guests appreciate the convenience.”
Friedman explains that rather than the amenity itself, the more important factor is showing you’ve put time and care into what you offer guests, “Amenities need to be appropriate for the traveler and the type of traveling they are doing. Increasing in scale and scope is not always better. A well thought out amenity that is personalized and adds value to the guests traveling experience will have greater impact than a standardized one.” “A guest that is two-weeks into a six-week trans-Asian adventure certainly does not want to carry a 5kg picture book but would be happy to have a special memory to take with them.”
It’s unique memories that Michael Ganster, General Manager of the Fairmont Beijing, China, is constantly working on to push the guest experience further. “We encourage guests to go on our Heritage Biking Tour, to explore the capital’s historic Hutongs, cultural heritage sites, and other landmarks on stylish BMW bikes, with specially-developed iPod apps with a bilingual audio guide to sites of interest along the cycling routes.”
Giving guests insider access and connectivity to where they are is the type of amenity that Friedman says really impresses visitors. “We provide as a standard amenity to all guests the high quality Nancy Chandler Map of Bangkok. It’s not only beautiful but a very useful tool to help guests have a better experience in Bangkok. It’s well thought out and adds value to the overall guest experience. We have had more positive comments about this amenity that any other standard amenity I have offered over the last 15 years.”
Hoeger puts great importance on amenities that send guests home with a final, fond memory, “All of our guests receive unlimited international telephone calls as well as unlimited laundry. After our guests have been touring Asia for a few weeks, it is an opportunity to catch up with family and friends on the phone and get laundry done. Guests love the fact that when they arrive home with a suitcase full of freshly washed and folded clothes, the only thing left to do is to put them away.”.