When we think of a roadside motel, we probably don’t think of a business with five-star service and amenities, and that’s why independent motels are uniquely positioned to surprise and delight; most motel guests are simply not expecting to be surprised and delighted.
Designed to serve road trippers with cheap, comfortable and convenient accommodation, motels are the preferred choice for many travelers — travelers who expect to get nothing more than what they pay for.
Many independent motels operate within tight budgets, which can make going the extra mile for guests seem unpractical. But there are things any property can do to impress guests without breaking the bank — and the return on investment can be huge. Think rave reviews, loyal customers and no vacancy!
Here are some ways a budget independent motel can be a lodging superstar:
Deliver Service with a Smile
Service with a smile is of chief importance in the quest for guest satisfaction, and it costs nothing. The 2015 J.D. Power North America Hotel Guest Satisfaction Index Study found that there is a 50 percent reduction in the average number of customer complaints when guests are greeted with a smile “all the time,” compared to “sometimes.”
Engaged, empowered staff members who truly enjoy working with people are naturals at delivering service with a smile. But it also helps when staff is backed by efficient systems that make their jobs easier, rather than ineffective tools that create more work and stress.
A modern property management system, for example, automates administrative processes to increase productivity, reduce stress, and give lodging operators more time to focus on their guests.
Keep Guestrooms & Facilities Spick-and-Span
A motel doesn’t have to be new or fancy to be inviting, but it does have to be clean and well kept. Beyond vacuuming carpets, cleaning bathrooms and changing sheets, guestrooms — including kitchenette facilities and utensils, bedding and bath linens, furniture, lamps and TV remotes — should be inspected regularly for wear and tear and items repaired or replaced as needed.
Modern property management systems help to keep track of maintenance issues through housekeeping and maintenance reports. Cloud systems like WebRezPro PMS feature mobile housekeeping reports, which allow housekeepers to update room cleaning status and enter notes via a mobile device as they work so that nothing gets forgotten.
Replacing worn or outdated bedding and furniture and updating décor can be expensive. Most budgets won’t stretch far enough for everything to be tackled at once, but upgrades can be done gradually. Focus on the changes that will have the biggest impact first. Take a look at guest reviews for clues — do guests consistently criticize the beds or the peeling paint?
If renovations are in order, choose neutral (timeless) colors, classic styles and durable quality to maximize your investment for the long term. The goal is clean, fresh, inviting rooms, not bold design statements that are bound to go out of style.
The motel exterior and outdoor areas should also be well maintained for optimal curb appeal. From a freshly painted motel exterior to a clean and tidy pool area with quality outdoor furniture, cared-for grounds invite people to enjoy them.
Provide Guests with Current Technology
We are creatures of habit and used to our creature comforts, so when something we take for granted at home — like reliable Wi-Fi and flat-screen TVs — is not available when we travel, it feels like a major inconvenience.
Wi-Fi, in particular, is as necessary as bathroom tissue these days; a 2015 study conducted by Hotels.com showed that free Wi-Fi remains the most sought-after amenity among both business and leisure travelers.
Modern guestroom TVs are another essential amenity for properties wanting to avoid the old, tired look. Flat-screen TVs are very affordable these days and are also a great way to save space in a small room when mounted to the wall.
To really stand out, some properties are providing guests with techy extras that put the spotlight on convenience, from in-room charging stations (or chargers for rent) to paperless check-in with e-signature.
Share Your Local Knowledge
Information about area attractions, restaurants, shopping and other points of interest is readily available online, but nothing beats personal recommendations from a local expert. Sharing local knowledge with guests face to face is not only helpful to them, but provides the opportunity to connect with guests on a more personal level — and it’s those moments of friendly interaction that make the difference between ordinary and extraordinary service.
Including up-to-date local information on your website can help boost bookings too.
Surprise and Delight with the Little Things
Most of us enjoy feeling appreciated, which is why greeting each and every guest with a smile is so important. But to make guests feel even more welcome, surprise them with a little something extra.
The simplest, most inexpensive things can make a big difference to the guest experience: a pre-arrival email with reservation details and helpful local tips (and post-stay emails too); in-room welcome treats, like a small bowl of candy with a simple hand-written welcome note; refreshing freebies in the lobby like a pitcher of fruit-infused water, coffee and tea, cookies, or a bowl of fruit; a DVD and/or board game library; or even just a quick phone call to the room shortly after a guest checks in to make sure they have everything they need.
Upon check-out, guests can be surprised with a small thank-you gift, such as cookies for the road, or a discount voucher for their next stay (if they book direct).
Even the smallest touches can go a long way to earning great reviews and repeat customers, turning an average motel into a lodging superstar.