Are there low cost ways to satisfy my guests?

From “Ask Kit!”:

Q: “What “low cost” ways can you suggest for increasing guest satisfaction? What kinds of amenities do you offer your guests and how much does this increase your costs?”

A: I think flexibility on your part, within reason, is a great start to creating more guest satisfaction. A range of breakfast hours and check-in/out times are examples. Options is another way of increasing guest satisfaction. Giving guests a choice about breakfast (full or continental) or the choice of brightness in their room by using 3-way bulbs in 3-way switches, climate and temperature control in their room (extra blankets available *in* their room, heating or cooling options). Providing extra touches like flowers, candy/chocolate at turn down, a never- empty cookie jar, binoculars and a bird/animal book by the picture window, acting like a concierge for your guests and making recommendations and reservations for them — all make guests feel content.

Amenities cover a wide range of possibilities. There is the standard amenity of soap and shampoo. You could also offer conditioner, mouth wash, shower caps, emery boards, shoe shine cloths, … You can spend as little as 25 cents and as much as $15 on that topic alone. I also see amenities as including phones, high speed Internet, fireplaces, TVs and VCRs, coffee pots with tea/cocoa/coffee available, room refrigerators, iron with ironing boards, jetted tubs or steam showers, etc. These range from inexpensive to expensive (both of money and space).

Research is the only way to know what it will cost you to offer the various amenities.

Does that help? I know it’s not specific but I hope it opens your imagination to the diverse possibilities.

9 thoughts on “Are there low cost ways to satisfy my guests?”

  1. What do we do to make our guests more comfortable?
    Things to Do:
    I’ve put together a 3 ring binder entitled, “Things to Do In and Around Elizabethville.” It’s available in the dining room for guests to peruse and contains information on parks, hunting, fishing, area attractions, antiques, hiking trails, area restaurants with sample menus and driving directions, maps of the area etc.
    Courtesy Place Settings:
    A microwave is available in one of the dining rooms along with a basket of silverware and a stack of plates. A note beside the plates reads, “Guests – If ordered take out, brought food from home, or have a microwavable dinner, feel free to use these dinner plates and silverware. Dirty dishes and silverware may be put in the plastic carton on the side table by the kitchen door.”
    Complimentary Snacks and Beverages
    A carafe of water sits on top of the microwave along with microwavable cups. A tray of assorted teas, hot chocolate, instant coffee, along with honey, sugar, powdered milk, and sugar substitutes are on the dining room table. Guests may enjoy a hot beverage 24/7.
    Freshly baked cookies sit on a plate under a glass bell dome. Assorted candies fill a bowl. Fresh apples from the Farmers’ Market fill another bowl. Assorted single portion bags of chips fill a basket.
    If we have more than two rooms occupied, I generally bake a cake or a pie and make this available to guests along with plates and forks.
    A sign on the dining room table invites guests to enjoy a complimentary snack or beverage.
    The microwave also sits on top of a small refrigerator that has been stocked with a variety of sodas and diet sodas along with a pitcher of filtered water.
    Courtesy DSL Wireless Internet
    My facility provides complimentary internet service to guests with wireless laptops. Guests who have laptops without a wireless card may borrow a USB wireless adapter.
    Breakfast is made to order. I have two breakfast menus. One is very simplistic but is complimentary with the room. The other is much more elaborate and is billed as an extra service. Both breakfasts are served with a breakfast buffet that includes yogurt, cereal, fruit, juice, milk, coffee, and a bread tray with jams, jellies, and butter.
    Television and DVDs
    Most of our rooms include cable TV with a DVD player. Cable TV is also available in the dining room. A television with a DVD player is available in the parlor. We have a lending library of 250+ DVDs in the parlor for guests.
    Paperback Book Exchange
    Since this business attracts a lot of business travelers, we have a paperback book exchange. Guests may take one complimentary book with them when they leave or they may trade out paperbacks on a one for one basis.
    Rooms are cleaned daily. Glasses, towels, and bath mats are switched out on a daily basis (unless guests indicate that they don’t need fresh towels). Beds are made. Waste baskets are emptied. Rooms are cleaned as necessary while they are still occupied by guests. Bed sheets are switched out every five days unless the housekeeper has reason to change them earlier.
    All rooms are furnished with peepholes and security chains.
    All public areas, hallway, stairway, parlor, both dining rooms, side porch, and parking lot are always illuminated.
    All exterior doors automatically lock after they’re closed. Guest bedrooms must be secured with a deadbolt.
    Concierge Service
    I am pleased to offer a concierge service to our guests. I help them arrange reservations. I secure maps and driving directions. If guests need baggage assistance, I help them with their luggage.
    Summary of Guest Services
    A guest service sheet is taped to the back of each guest door. The service sheet highlights everything I’ve hitherto mentioned in this post. It references the “Things to Do” nobebook and includes information about breakfast, complimentary snacks and beverages, security, TV, DVDs, internet access, telephones, and the heating and cooling of rooms.
    Late Arrivals
    Guests with reservations who arrive after closing know that they should go to the front door. The front door is locked but welcome envelopes may always be found in a plastic box attached to the front door. The envelopes contain keys to the inn, rooms keys, breakfast order forms, and a welcome letter that describes all of our amenities.
    I am by the way rather tickled insofar as we recently had a guest who used to be the director of the wine and beverage service at the Four Seasons in Philadelphia. This guest gave me high praise when she said that my facility was the “best organized inn” that she had ever stayed in.
    All guests are treated with the utmost respect. I tend to be very conservative by nature and address ladies as “ma’am” and gentlemen as “sir.” Unmarried ladies are “miss” unless they insist upon “ms.”
    I consider it impudent to address guests by their familiar names.
    I do not argue with guests although I have been known to politely disagree with them from time to time.
    I never ever raise my voice or use inappropriate language.
    I am always impeccably attired in chef trousers (either black and white striped, solid black, or herring bone) with a forest green staff shirt, and a burgundy apron. All housekeepers likewise wear forest green staff shirts with our logo.
    Sometimes you just have to bite the bullet on initial costs.
    This is why capital investments are deductible business expenses.
    Several of my rooms are furnished with cable TV. The televisions were expensive but barring damage this will essentially be a one time expense (at least during my tenure as an innkeeper).
    The initial cost of a television with DVD player – moderate (depending upon what you can afford to spend), the long term cost is reasonable.
    Last year I began buying used DVDs to create a library. I bought a few movies a week at a local store that advertised buy 1 and get 1 free. Each DVD sold from $5.99 to $12.00 … or $3.00 to $6.00 per DVD since the 2nd one was free. I now have 250 movies in my guest library. Cost? Again it depends upon what you can afford. I consider the cost moderate to low. Now that I have so many DVDs, I’m starting to taper off buying movies.
    If you decide to put in a hot tub, the initial expense will be high. If this validates raising your room rates because of guest amenties, bully for you! Regardless of what happens, you’ll have monthly expenses associated with maintaining your hot tub but unless the guests do something goofy like donning artificial tan before getting into the water, thereby creating a gloopy mess), your monthly expenses should be light.

  2. I found reference to an inn cat at Thayer’s Historic B&B. The innkeeper’s cat apparently has run of the premises.
    I found the Casitas Hotel for Cats, a cat boarding facility in L.A. A similar facility was listed for the Holiday Hotel for Cats.
    I also found a site which lists 20,000 hotels, motels, and rental homes that are pet friendly. Another site connected me to and I did a search for Wisconsin. I found Super 8, Best Western, Ramada, and other chain motels – but nothing that looked like the place I only vaguely remember.
    I even found an on-line VIRTUAL hotel: Habbo Hotel that offers to loan or sell virtual pets! But I couldn’t find a hotel that checks out rooms with assigned cats.
    Of course, this recollection is quite old – perhaps 15 years or more, so it’s possible that it’s no longer operational.
    I only paid passing noticed to this when I first saw this feature. Now that I’m an innkeeper, I’m more curious about how a facility like this operates.
    Talk about your niche markets …

  3. Talk about your niche markets …

    And there are the inns for poetry lovers, music lovers, chocolate lovers, writers and readers, and archaeologists. Have a passion and you have the start of a niche market.

  4. Just so. And let’s not forget
    * murder mystery events
    * haunted B&B’s
    * hike and bike trails
    * fine dining
    * couples counseling
    * hunting lodges
    … and the list goes on

  5. The Anderson House in Wabasha, Minnesota has 10 cats in residence available to spend time with guests.
    I know there was an article in the Madison State Journal a year or two ago that featured an old hotel run more like a B&B, and the cover photo had a unit (similar to the old cubby holes where room keys & guest mail would have been) and each cubby had a cat. Guests could “check out” a cat for their room. I can’t remember the name of the place but I believe it was somewhere near Madison, WI.

  6. Teri wrote:
    The Anderson House in Wabasha, Minnesota has 10 cats in residence available to spend time with guests.
    I know there was an article in the Madison State Journal a year or two ago that featured an old hotel run more like a B&B, and the cover photo had a unit (similar to the old cubby holes where room keys & guest mail would have been) and each cubby had a cat. Guests could “check out” a cat for their room. I can’t remember the name of the place but I believe it was somewhere near Madison, WI.

    YES! YES! YES!
    Thank you!
    That’s the exact same place I was thinking of. Wisconsin, eh? I’ll have to do a search and see what I can find.
    I remember seeing this place featured on a travel channel once. I was a teacher at the time and had no plans to enter the hospitality industry. I also didn’t have any cats and had no plans to acquire any cats.
    So look at me now … I own and operate a 7 bedroom bed and breakfast AND I have 5 cats.
    As an innkeeper I now find myself wondering about how the facility keeps the place clean. I wonder how popular such a niche market might be. I wonder how they keep the cats out of the dining room(s), how they keep the cats from scratching furniture, and whether the health department has any concerns about pets being on the premises.
    I am not interested in emulating this facility since I’d be afraid of all the damage my babies could do … but from an innkeeper’s perspective, I’m curious about their operation.

  7. here was an opportunity for branding that got by the owner – they could have named it me cat is you cat bed and breakfast and then when you googled it you would have found them.
    i just gave my cat bob away how sad as the first time i gave him away he came back two months later. Bob will not stay out of the guest rooms and therefore needs a new home.
    I am too new and this town is too small for me to define my niche market on that.

  8. Maybe, maybe not. If you make the cat part of the inn’s atmosphere (and I don’t mean the odors that can go along with cats), you will define your guests. Many guests have left their cats at home during their travels and love having your cat around. Yes, there are people who are allergic or don’t like cats, but maybe they don’t belong at your inn for other reasons.
    If you love your cat, let him be part of the inn. He could be just the thing to make your inn successful.

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