Five Front Desk Face-Forward Focus Items to Drive Service Scores

Service scores / guest satisfaction / J.D. Power

Like the adage “a picture is worth a thousand words,” a positive review is worth a thousand room nights for hotels. Good feedback about a property reinforces a guest’s decision to stay, whereas bad ones cost room nights. For those who think a smile at check-in is enough, the mediocre results on guest surveys will prove otherwise. In a world driven by instant gratification, hotels have to connect with guests in memorable ways. Being unique will drive some key scores on guest surveys, including recognition, and book the most profitable type of reservation—repeat stays.

1. Try a sincere connection.

At check-in, ask a guest what they wanted to be when they were growing up. Let’s say the guest says a firefighter. After they head to their room, pull up an image of a firefighter online, print it, and put it in a simple, $1.00 picture frame. Affix a small note to the frame with a ribbon or bow saying, “Never give up on your dreams, sleep well,” then deliver it to their room. The keepsake shows you listened to what they said, went above and beyond to connect, and tied it all back to the experience associated with your hotel, a good night’s sleep.

2. Check your arrivals for any past stays.


Impressing new guests can become routine, but recognizing the “Xth” stay connects you and your guest through sincere appreciation. Set tiers such as 10, 20, or 25 stays and have a trinket or trophy or keepsake to give them, recognizing them for so many repeat stays. Do it with some passion and they’ll continue to book again.

3. Personalize existing amenities.

Most hotels used to deliver newspapers to guestrooms, though some brands now say leaving them in the lobby to have available for guests is fine. This is where you can go above and beyond. Personalize it by writing a note attached that says, “Good Morning, Mr. Johnson, it’s always good news when you stay with us. Have a great day.” Deliver it to the room and stand apart from the competitors in your market. You’re paying for the newspaper anyway, why not make it unique and memorable?

4. Connect with families.

Family travel offers an opportunity to connect with kids and thus, the parents. Offer families with children blank postcard stock to draw on. Ask kids to draw a picture about their vacation or trip and turn it in when they’re done for a small gift or candy. Then take their drawing, write a short thank you note, attach it and then put them in the mail. When the family gets home, a reminder of their trip awaits in the mailbox and is something special thanking them for their stay.

5. Come up with your “thing.”

Come up with your “thing.” It doesn’t have to be big. Perhaps your hotel is near an ocean, lake, or river and has ducks that regularly fly overhead, nest near the parking lot, or walk around the grounds. Every hotel has a bathtub or shower and you have a fifty-fifty chance your guest has children. Buy a case of miniature rubber duckies and have them on the towel in the guestrooms with a note. This ties the guest’s memory to something at your hotel.

Whatever your efforts are, the pursuit of the loyalty of your guests is essential in today’s hotel operations. Return stays are the most powerful tool in your revenue playbook. Give in to hokey ideas, thoughtful gimmicks, and endearing concepts centered around your guest because they work. Creating memories builds top of mind awareness that works in your favor.


About the Author
Daniel A. Johnson, CHA, is the vice president of operations for Argeo Hospitality, an Anthony Melchiorri Company.



Photo credit: Kat Jayne,

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Daniel A. Johnson, CHA, CHIA, is an award-winning hotelier with decades of industry experience. He currently serves as a consultant to hotel owners and developers throughout the Mid-Atlantic region.