I recently attended a training session for tourism industry employees on how to provide the WOW factor for your guests. Unfortunately, it was more of a WHY you do it, rather than giving suggestions on HOW to do it. As a consumer that stays in hotels rather than a hotel employee, it made me start thinking about the things that make me say "Wow" when I stay at a hotel. What are the things that make you say "Wow" when you stay at a hotel? (Pretend we are putting together an agenda for a Marriott employee training.)
razorbackfan, great question!! Clean & well-maintained properties are non-negotiable basic expectations for me. As to WOW factors, I agree with painedplatinum. I am in my room on the final night of a 3 night stay @ a clean & well-maintained Fairfield Inn & I thought about how this property that has no great views or anything tangible they could really offer in the WOW category, they made up for it in WOW people & WOW service.
The Front Desk associate greeted us like she was genuinely happy we had arrived (after a grueling drive this felt priceless). The housekeeping team all made eye contact & spoke as we passed in the hall. The breakfast buffet team was equally friendly. I worked @ the computer in the lobby enough to note that the same kind of service was given to every guest that passed through the lobby. They greeted us by name, asked about our day each evening as we returned. When we requested a late checkout, it was promptly arranged. The Front Desk had a small container of individually wrapped Jelly Belly beans on the counter. I casually mentioned that I like the little licorice ones. Of course, they made sure I have a small pile of licorice ones to take on the next leg of our trip. A small gesture that just makes a difference.
So, instead of just being a pleasant, "meets expectations" kind of stop on a trip they delivered a WOW experience. A testimony to the fact that you don't have to be a WOW hotel destination to WOW.
I agree with everything written here so far: greeted by name, treated like they're genuinely happy to see us, and as Pained mentioned, a conflagration of things that all add up to 'Wow.'
The Burbank Marriott is an older hotel, but the halls, rooms, bathrooms have all been updated attractively. Housekeeping, CL, lobby staff all very friendly and service oriented. Public spaces, lobby and outdoor seating with firepits for socializing were very inviting. They've done a good job at taking an older property in the heart of massive people, traffic and smog, etc. etc. etc. and turned it into a mini-oasis.
Freising Marriott - personable attention. Personal problems/items (full glass of tomato juice spilled on a long haul flight and in need of laundry services, tracking down lost sweater at airport, hooking us up with the right place locally to buy a gps, taking our luggage to our room - my mom is old and brought too much, making sure we had plenty of good food to eat (complimentary) and transportation back to the airport. Seeking us out and asking how everything was going for us later on) were attended to. It felt like we had our own private personal assistant. Followed up later with personalized emails. Amazing. 'Wow!'
'Wow' factors you don't want: stepping off the elevator each time you go to your 7th floor room and having to stroll through an elevator lobby filled with cigarette smoke. Wow. Walking into an unlocked, dark CL on a cold night at quarter to midnight (CL is supposed to be opened until midnight), no lights on except the light emanating from the glass front refrigerators, coffee machine (and therefore no hot water for tea) turned off, and dirty dishes everywhere. Wow. No in-room coffee/tea service or in-room wifi. Wow. Imperial Riding School Renaissance.
Interesting question... I fear that for many of the things that matter, there's little a hotel manager can do about it - it's the property itself... For me, I guess:
For Marriotts in the US, a really nice room. I don't come across them that often. The rooms at The Cosmopolitan in Las Vegas were very nice. So were the rooms at the JW Marriott Denver at Cherry Creek.
Marriott has such good and friendly customer service from property to property, it is rare when someone at the front desk can wow me. Paula at JW Marriott Indianapolis did though (great introduction and overview of the hotel, amenities and nearby local events as well as a really strong personal touch--she makes you almost feel like a celebrity there).
Some great WOW factors have been posted here and they are all important. I would add another general WOW factor and that is when something goes wrong, which is inevitable, it is addressed immediately and resolved quickly to your satisfaction. One quick example is the way an Associate at the Charleston, WV, Marriott handled a simple problem in a very WOW way. My wife had requested several extra pillows and when a half hour passed she requested again. They arrived shortly after the second request with a very sincere apology for the delay. The next morning when I stopped by the desk to pick up my statement, the Asst. Hotel Manager informed us that our room was complementary due to the delay in delivering the extra pillows. WOW!
The Charleston, WV Marriott is really a very special hotel! Have been staying there since it first opened around 30 years ago, and it was a wonderful addition to Charleston.
Glad to hear it is still managed, and staffed by an exceptional staff.
Thank-you for sharing!