I may be a travel writer, but I’m not a snob. I’ve stayed in all sorts of places over the years; from 5-star hotels, to private villas and guesthouses. I recognise great service when I see it. What I’ve realised over years of travel is that all the frills and gold in the world can’t make up for poor service, or what is sometimes worse, over service.
Some beautiful hotels have been ruined for me, when I’ve found the service fake, or at the other extreme I’ve been left feeling like a pest when I’ve asked for help. On our recent trip to Vietnam in September, we were blown away by the customer service and friendly open attitude we received everywhere, from the tailor, to the cooking course, to the guide hosting our vespa tour. The stand out experience by far was our stay by the riverside at Hotel Royal Hoi An MGallery By Sofitel. I was left thinking about what made this hotel so different to others I have stayed at, (sometimes with similar amenities), and for me it comes down to the service.
Here are four things that I’ve deemed essential in creating a great guest experience:
1. Communicate Like A Real Human
There’s nothing worse than feeling like you’re being served by a robot or hearing the same lines repeated to guests during a stay in a lovely hotel. I’m myself no matter what environment I’m in, so I like a friendly yet professional approach from staff. I want to feel like I’m being served by real people and personalities. I love hearing local stories, favourite restaurants and markets tips from staff (it’s how you find all the good stuff!) What I loved about the service at Hotel Royal is that the staff were not afraid to stop and chat with us during our stay, sharing stories about local festivals and snippets of their own family traditions. On a quiet night near the river bar, we even had a bit of fun with the bar staff making up cocktails being encouraged to try their new signature one – “Scent of Tra Que”, a refreshing mix of pennywort, lime, Midori and vanilla syrup, which went down a treat.
2. Take Care Of The Little Things
When you’re on holiday you don’t want to think about the details. Details are annoying. (Why think of details when you could be shopping, or cocktail sipping, or achieving some bucket list dream!) I was astounded that there were so many little things taken care of that we didn’t have to organise ourselves. Our tailored clothes were delivered straight to our room. The beds were turned down for us every night. Local pennywort juice was waiting for us on arrival, and on our early morning (5am) final departure, a breakfast box full of warm pastries was prepared for our journey to the airport. It was as if we were being sent off with love.
3. Be Intuitive
Once I stayed at an unnamed location where I was participating in a course of sorts. The hotel manager knew I was at that destination to do this activity yet every morning would ask me what I was doing that day, and if I could leave my course to undertake a paid tour run by his hotel! This drove me crazy and actually almost ruined my stay in the end, despite the beauty of the location. Reading people, their interests and what they might be in that destination for is an important part of customer service, (as well as intuition for when talking is encouraged and when lying by the pool in silence is sacred.) When we arrived from almost 20 hours of travel from Sydney, the staff at Hotel Royal sensed that we were done talking, checked us in pronto and saved the welcome speech for the morning when we were no longer delirious. Ten out of ten.
4. Provide Quality
All the faffing about in the world can’t make up for terrible quality or cut corners in design. I can vouch that the amenities at Hotel Royal were second to none, matching the service. This ranged from the stunning mosaic pool by the river, to the “happy hour” that was more happy than any bar in town, (for both price and quality). After a long day sightseeing stepping into our deluxe room was like venturing into a cool haven to re-group and flop. Each guest room has bright oriental furnishings with dark wood and red lanterns. The rooms are decked out with all the trimmings; an LED 42 inch TV, a day bed, free WIFI, separate storage and a dressing room. We were so busy, we didn’t have time to even turn the telly on. (But still nice to know it was there, you know?) Despite the room being a little on the cosy side, we fell onto the soft beds and had a great night sleep…(aside from my snoring my sister would say.)
What do you think adds to a great guest experience?
What’s important to you on holidays?
Hotel Royal Hoi An is located at 39 Dao Duy Tui, Hoi An, Vietnam.
For more information visit www.hotelroyalhoian.com
Disclosure: While the lovely people at Accor Hotels accommodated us at media rates, this is a true reflection of my experience.
Photography courtesy of Accor hotels