6 things that can ruin your motel

Whether you own a motel or are managing one, it is easy to fall into bad habits.  Find out 6 things that you could be doing and what to do to change.

Being unprofessional or rude

Being unprofessional or rude as a manager or be it an owner is the best way to ruin the guest’s experience.  At the end of the day sometimes it is just hard to be pleasant to everyone.  Don’t get me wrong there are times when you need to take a tough stance but don’t let your reputation precede you with other guests by being rude or unprofessional. If you need to be told or reminded of the industry, you are working in perhaps it’s time to pack up and leave. Another owner of a large motel in regional Queensland told me once that your guests arrive as guests and should leave as friends.  Try it! it works.

Untrained staff

Watching staff interact with a guest is always eye-opening exercise.  Staff need to be friendly and interested in what guest have to say.  Happy staff at work portray to everyone else from the outside looking in as being happy with their job.  Staff should acknowledge every guest as they see them in hallways, carparks, around pools or outdoor areas. Ask your staff to take an interest in the guest perhaps ask how their day has been?  Staff need to know the boundaries with guests and know that if they chat with guests and guests mention eg. say the air conditioning in the room doesn’t work! Staff need to confidently refer the guest to reception or perhaps advise the guest they will let the manager know or perhaps maintenance person.  Sometimes staff need to be aware of such situations and know who to refer the guest too.  However, if the guest requests an extra soap your staff should supply it happily and professionally.

Not maintaining your rooms and facilities

Let’s face it there are some old motels here in Australia.  I should know, I own one myself, and there is not a day goes by that we don’t do any maintenance on the place whether it be inside one or several of the rooms or in the garden or even on the building, there is always some sort of maintenance or improvement that needs doing.  Now I don’t mean just changing a light bulb here and there or a clock battery.  You want guests to enjoy their stay and not have anything that can or will spoil their stay with you. Guest reviews are as important as guests comfort and feeling they have got value for their money and it all comes down to providing a guest experience.  Sure, a light globe can blow at any time, change it immediately even at 11 pm. If a tap is dripping call the plumber.

I would suggest checking each room prior to every guest’s arrival.  If you can fix it prior to the guest arriving it is already done, if not then it is noted in our planner/diary and prioritized, and the guest is moved to another room if needed. Walk around your own motel, not just the rooms, check out in the carpark, the gardens, even your street frontage.  You will soon have a list.  See it as a guest would see it and simply fix it!

Bad online reviews

Everybody is online nowadays and people take notice – you can have 200 great reviews and 8 bad reviews, trust me the people reading will always read the bad reviews.  Great reviews are becoming harder to get and you now must work harder to get them.  As a professional the first thing you do when you get a bad review is to go online and reply – a complete knee-jerk reaction often ending in you berating your guest or making every other excuse why you and only you have failed with this guest.

I follow a couple of motels and resorts, just out of interest, one motel comes to mind.  I have read the reviews going right back for 2 years.  A re-occurring comment kept rearing its head in probably 80% of their reviews but it was becoming more and more regular in guest reviews as time went on.  It seemed the beds were very uncomfortable and hard.  So, the manager replied about how they are buying pillow tops for all the beds on the property to every review that it was mentioned in.  Sadly, obviously, the manager was still making the same replies 2 years down the track.  Only providing “lip service” to the poor guests.

If I was going to book at that property I would have taken notice of the comments by the manager and booked somewhere else. Why?  Because if you are continuing to take the time to reply to similar comments in reviews instead of fixing the issue, then you are not concerned about my comfort as a potential guest, this leads me to think you were schooled at the “Sucker Born Every Minute School of Hospitality.

My suggestion would be Don’t Answer the Reviews.  Let them speak for themselves.  By answering them you run the risk of it coming across as an excuse, and more than likely be offending if not to the guest that wrote the review, certainly not the impression you need to give a potential guest.  Let your reviews stand on their own merit.  Yes! The Good and Bad! Always read the bad ones and fix the issues if possible.  Of course, you are never going to please everyone but take notice, and address the issue, then hopefully you can alleviate the repetition of the same comments on your reviews.

Not being seen!

Do you check people in and go and hide?  Fair enough if it is a late check-in, but when you have people check in after 2 pm, is that the last they see of you?  Sadly, many managers/owners do hide away from guests.  You would be amazed if you are seen around the property doing things what that tells a guest.  Guest often make comments to me saying how busy we are and that we don’t stop.  It’s all part of a plan.  Guests like to see staff and us around the place.  It relays to the guest a few things.

1. You care about the presentation of the property.

2. Guests can see improvements being made.

3 Women solo travellers (Especially those who are nervous about travelling alone) feel more at ease and comfortable if they see staff around.

4. By being noticed out and about even just in the garden, gives you another opportunity to chat with guests.  Elderly guests and keen gardeners alike often come over to us, telling us about their gardens, giving us garden hints, asking us advice.  And lastly any troublesome guests (and you do get a few) tend to behave themselves, so it works two ways.

Don’t hide! Get out and pick rubbish up on the nature strip of your property if you need too, check the car park for cigarette butts, leaves etc. perhaps clean the ashtrays in the outdoor areas a couple of times, Water the garden, plant a plant, there is always something to do so use it to your own advantage.

Remember guests arrive as strangers and should leave as friends.  This is your chance to spark a conversation with them, this is your opportunity to stand out from the crowd and let the guests remember you and your motel for the right reasons. Make a good lasting impression.  Word of mouth is the best advertising.

Pre Arrival checks

I mentioned previously about doing a simple check of rooms prior to a guest’s arrival. Housekeepers are great and if you have a housekeeper that takes ownership of the rooms they clean, I would say hold on to them with both hands and treat them like gold. Let’s face it, some housekeepers aren’t that great and are just their working for the money and no other reason. If it is not personal to them, why would they care if the motel gets a bad review or two? They will still get paid. Someone needs to take some responsibility and if you don’t check the rooms then give someone else the responsibility for checking the standard is met.

Check out your cleaning score with online reviews.  Compare it to other motels of a similar standard.  Is there a problem? Housekeepers tend to be either on the ball or completely drop the ball.  They are only human, and everyone forgets things but if it’s on a consistent basis I would suggest re-training your housekeepers or finding new ones.

When hiring staff it is best to hire for pride rather than experience.  If the housekeeper takes pride in their own appearance and how they portray themselves that’s the housekeeper you want to be working for you.  Set a standard with the housekeeping and be strict about it.  It’s their livelihood just as much as it is yours.  Remind them that if rooms are not cleaned to that standard then guests just don’t come back.  When guests no longer make bookings then they (housekeepers) no longer have employment. It is that simple! If you a running a small motel then do the checks yourself, if you are running a larger concern ensure that your head of housekeeping is taking on the responsibility and that the housekeeping team are all on the same page.  Offer a bonus for raising the cleaning score and a bonus for keeping it as an incentive to them.

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