The Guest Journey: Planning and Booking


The Guest Journey: Planning and Booking

Winter is over and the spring brings with it plans of summer vacations with the entire family in tow. I recently booked a hotel stay for a short family trip, and can honestly say that the guest experience begins long before arrival.

When I travel with my kids, my focus is narrowed. There are fewer things that matter, but they matter very much: Safety, Cleanliness, and Fun.

That doesn’t mean I don’t care about service, because let’s face it, I always care about service. It’s a passion of mine. But I am not so worried about luxury, style, design. We are there to have fun and not break anything.

I will not share the name of our chosen destination, but following is an honest review of the first part of our journey: Planning and Booking.

Planning: This part was easy for us, we are traveling with friends and the destination was already chosen. However, looking through the hotel’s website, I did consider calling it off. There were no real property photos. They did feature lots of pictures of smiling kids, presumably on hotel grounds at the time they were smiling. But I wanted to really see what we should expect.

When I searched the hotel, TripAdvisor was the top result, and the actual hotel website was on the second page. Not good. Perhaps it is because I am geared toward social media and SEO, but this, along with very little social media presence, makes me wonder if they are hiding from their guests.

On the bright side, their TripAdvisor reviews seemed to be honest and positive. They weren’t glowing, but that’s what I expected. It’s a family environment, geared toward fun over luxury. The property did not respond to any of the reviews, which would have upped their game tremendously.

So, to sum up the planning phase, had we not been traveling with friends, we would not have booked this hotel. Compared to others in the area, who are making a concerted effort to reach out to travelers, this property seems to be hoping nobody will actually want to go there.

Booking: The website fell short once again in the booking department. It was difficult to use, and required booking one room at a time. I was not too bothered by the need to call, because I had a few questions to ask.

The first call I made to check availability, did not go well. The agent I spoke with acted as if I was keeping her from other tasks. The second call went better, although I found it interesting because this woman also sounded angry. Her words were friendly, but her tone was not. This goes back to the first rule of customer service on the phone: Smile. Even though your customer can’t see you smile, they can hear it.

Other than the tone, the booking process was easy and friendly, which is fine with me. One thing this hotel has going for it is that my expectations are not high. They have not been inflated by phony reviews and fake property photos. I do expect my original three standards when traveling with kids: Safe, Clean, Fun.

A final bit of advice here, this property has a real opportunity to delight their guests. Going in with a no-frills expectation, even a small welcome gift for the kids would go a long way. What advice would you have for this property?