Sunday, October 3, 2010

First Impressions – You Only Get One Chance to Get it Right

When is the last time you REALLY paid attention to the arrival experience at your Hotel?

Come on, be honest, you’ll feel better.

When is the last time that you arrived by cab to the front of your Hotel?

Or, stood across the street and looked at the façade of your property and REALLY thought about what it is saying to arriving guests, or prospective customers?

We all know that we only get one chance to make a first impression, yet far too often, the first impression is thought to be associated with the first employee that your guests come in contact with.

While I whole-heartedly agree on the value of the first “personal” contact that our guests experience, I would argue that there is, nonetheless, a first impression being made, albeit silently, by your building, your driveway, your landscaping – In short, the arrival experience.

What is it combining to tell your prospective guests?

Is it warm and welcoming?  Is it in harmony with your company’s commitment to service and the other standards that you have set to provide an exceptional experience to your guests?

Or is it cold and uninviting?  In sharp contrast to the commitments, the vision, mission and core values that you associate with your Brand and what your Brand stands for.

I have often marvelled at the sharp contrast between the exterior and the interior of a Hotel, and specifically, the distinctly different messages that each is sending to your guests.

I recognize that times are tough, and finances are stretched.  Not every Hotel can afford to have their building exterior painted in spite of the need to do so, due to the age and fading or outdated paint colours that adorn the exterior.

But you can take steps, small steps, to ensure that your building is clean, the driveway and sidewalks clear of debris and cigarette butts.

If you have exterior landscaping, plants, trees, etc., it is important to see that they are regularly attended to and kept properly groomed.

They may not say so, but your guests DO notice whether or not your Hotel appears to be “clean” from the outside, whether or not it is warm and inviting, or cold and uninviting.

I believe that first impressions, and last impressions, are key in our business.

First impressions set the tone for everything to follow, and as a result, the arrival experience is key to setting the right tone, sending the right message to your guests, sending the subtle but important cues that reassure your guests that they have made the right decision when they put their faith in you, to deliver an exceptional experience, from beginning to end.

As important as first impressions are, I would also argue that last impressions can be equally important, and should not be left to chance.

If everything has gone well, right up to the point of departure, creating that lasting impression that creates repeat customers, and who doesn’t love repeat customers, only to have it all shattered by a sub standard experience upon departure, what do you think that the guest will remember?

Make the right first impression, and last impression. 

Need an experienced hospitality professional to help your property reach its full potential?  Contact me.

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