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.