Sorry, We Have No Experiences Worth Talking About At My Hotel. HOGWASH!

Time and again, I hear that travelers want experiences. I hear that we live in a society where travelers plan routes and select destinations in order to enjoy experiences. Then I hear hotel operators lament the lack of experiences on their property, in their neighborhood or in their locale.
My response: Hogwash!

EVERY HOTEL HAS A STORY TO TELL – a story filled with experiences that will appeal to one traveler or another. Our too-common problem in the hotel industry: We too often overlook or forget about the special features in our hotels and our area that deliver enjoyable experiences for our guests – experiences we can and should describe and promote.

Let’s start our experience hunt on-property. Is there anything noteworthy we can talk about – new pillows, a new mattress, soundproof windows, blackout curtains, a balcony or patio, outdoor seating, a pool, a firepit?

We can use tent cards or a comment from the front desk clerk to alert guests to these special touches. Is there in-room coffee? If so, is it a locally roasted, locally sourced brand? What about the tea or the bottled water? Do they have stories we can tell our guests?

Is there a restaurant on-property? Are there (or should there be) any local specialties on the menu? Any perennial favorites we can recommend to our guests? “Have you tried our grits (or our sticky buns or our donuts or our buttermilk biscuits)? We think they’re the best for a hundred miles (or kilometers) in any direction!” or “You’ll never forget our blueberry cheesecake!”

Oh, and is the restaurant menu on the hotel website so people can consider their options in advance of check-in? Are your local favorites highlighted? Prices aren’t mandatory, but food photos are. Is there a room service menu? Some travelling families want to know if they can get a peanut butter and jelly sandwich for their kid. Too often we keep thoughtful touches like this a secret.

Are the room service menu and the restaurant’s wine and craft beer list on the website? Does it mention options like a delicious box breakfast, box lunch, or pet food? These are beyond the usual guest services. We’re talking about revenue-generating gestures that our guests will remember – and comment about on TripAdvisor.

Now, the neighborhood. Is there a recommended route for early morning joggers? Do you offer them a bottle of water or a map? Same question for dog walkers. Are there interesting walks that can start from, or begin close to the hotel? Is there a one-page guide for each walk describing the terrain, the distance and what guests will see? Does it identify any “secret stops” – favorite places to enjoy a great coffee, a flavorful ice cream or gelato or to take an unforgettable selfie? Are these guides available on your website so guests can plan in advance?

Do you offer a list (written, and maybe available on your website as well) of nearby recommended restaurants? Do you indicate cuisine, price range, distance, family friendly, etc.? Do you have similar lists for recommended galleries, shops, museums and points of interest – especially places only the locals know! With each recommendation, do you include a special “local’s secret tip” (or maybe a discount, or both)?

Why are your guests visiting this area? When they check out, do they mention anywhere they visited in the area that impressed them? These can all be great additions to your “Unforgettable Things to Do” list.

If you say “Sorry, we have no experiences worth talking about at my hotel,” the above ideas are why I reply “Hogwash!” Pause and consider it yourself. Ask your staff and chat with your guests. You’ll soon have a hundred – maybe even a thousand – great experiences to promote, share and, sometimes, profit from. In the process, you’ll make staying with you an experience guests will savor and recommend.