Hotels, like most businesses, evolve and improve with each passing year. New technology, designing trends, and customer desires lead the improvements. However, here is my list, noting how hotels can be even better:
Wi-fi – Over the years, wi-fi has become a basic utility. Just like heating/cooling, lighting, and water, today’s traveler needs the internet. Wi-fi should be included in the room’s price and it should be dependable. Too many hotels have super slow connections or ones that disconnect after a period of inactivity, requiring multiple log-ins a day. That’s not something busy travelers want to deal with.
Outlets – Rooms need more outlets. It’s been about two decades now that people have been traveling with cellphones and laptops. Now, with tablets, portable speakers, iPads, and more, travelers need access to even more outlets for charging. Outlets definitely are lacking on night stands, probably the best place for them, as most of us use our cellphones as clocks and alarms. In fact, throw in a USB on the nightstand too! One can never have too many outlets and USB ports. At the same time, hotels should throw in an international electrical outlet (like C, the most common one). You never know where your guests are from.
Lighting – A lot of hotel rooms lack lighting. There’s the standard overhead light in the entry, maybe a desk lamp, and a bed lamp or two, but nothing else. If a room is lacking in a lot of natural light, the room is even darker. Hotels need to invest in adding more overhead lighting to accommodate travelers. Also, if you are going to have standard key cards, hotel should adopt the European practice of using a key card to control the electricity in the room. Place your card in the slot to activate the lights. When leaving for the day, pull the key card out of the slot and all the electricity in the room goes out. It’s a wonderful way to save money and energy.
Green Policy Signs – For the past decade or so, hotels have been trying to initiate greener practices by only changing towels and sheets when necessary. A good practice in theory, but I think they have it backwards. Instead of putting the dirty, old placard on my bed when I want my sheets and towels changed, why not just require the placard when I don’t want the linens and towels changed? That way, if I’m running late and forget to put the card on the bed, I won’t have to bother housekeeping later when I get back and realize my dirty linens weren’t changed.
Number of Towels – Ok, this one really bothers me. It’s bad enough that the hotel towels are so small and rough, but they only give you four. I have four people in my family, so you’d think that’d be enough, but it’s not. Three of us are female, with plenty of hair, and all that wet hair needs its own towel. It doesn’t hurt to stock up the rooms with a few extra towels. What could it hurt?
Breakfast – Complimentary breakfast is a great amenity. In fact, it’s how I pick which hotels to stay at. However, business travelers are often up and gone before breakfast is even started. Dining hours need to be earlier to accommodate these travelers. Or at the very least, have “To Go” bags with water, juice, granola bars, and/or fruit at the front desk to help start their day.
Newspapers – Why? Why do we even get newspapers anymore? Hotels shouldn’t spend the money on them. Perhaps get a few for the lobby for the senior citizens that read them. It’s just not a valued amenity anymore. Hotels can save money and cut back on waste by eliminating them.
Room Keys – Too many times I have gone to my room only to have my room key not work. Electronic key cards are not perfect, and neither are the people working them. Some companies have already started using your smart phone as your key. That way you’ll never lose it and it’ll always work! By allowing travelers to use an app on their smartphones, they can check in online, bypass the front desk entirely, and have immediate access to their room. I love it!
Hooks/Towel Bars – This is especially important for hotels and resorts that have a large pool/water park, or are located on or near the beach. Whenever you come back to your room after a day at the pool or beach, you need places to dry all of your bathing suits and towels. So many hotels don’t consider this. Put in extra hooks, more towel bars, or have more hangers in the closet. If there is a balcony, maybe provide rail hooks so beach towels don’t go flying off.
Front Desk Staffing – Frequently, reception desks are filled with guests waiting to check in or check out. Obviously, staffing can probably be minimal during the off hours, but from 8:00am – 6:00pm, there should be adequate staff to handle the influx of guests checking in and those checking out. It may be the only direct encounter your guest has with a member of the hotel. You don’t want that one encounter to be a negative one.
Amenities – In room refrigerators are a must. Understandably, ice is helpful to cool drinks right away and to fill coolers. However, where can travelers put their leftover pizza, their six-pack of beer, juice for the kids, some medication, or even pumped breast milk? Small refrigerators don’t take up a lot of space and they are so wonderful to have. Also, let’s talk about those little bottles of shampoo and such. First, as someone who is green savvy, using all those little bottles for toiletries (many of which aren’t even recycled) is ridiculous. Some hotels, like those on the west coast or in national parks, have moved to refillable containers in showers. This way, they cut back on excess plastic, excess waste, and travelers can use as much as they need. While they’re at it, hotels should splurge a bit and upgrade the quality of these products. Women, especially, need more conditioner (we have more hair!), better conditioner, and all travelers would love a nicer product like Aveda, L’Occitane, or Bath and Body Works.
I’m sure there are many more ways for hotels to improve. Let me know in the comments if you have other suggestions!