We have been open seven and a half years and maintain a very high rating, especially for our industry.
We do everything we can do to stand out, be exceptional, delight and surprise. This includes making and serving to all our guests free, unlimited home made pancakes every morning from 6.30 - 9.30am. Having made around 140,000 of these in the five and a half years, as you'd expect we're getting quite good at it :)
This makes people's experience at our place memorable, and is something that gets talked about all the time. So, if there's a choice of where to go, free unlimited pancakes, and the fact they are home made, will usually swing the booking our way.
We looked at our space, inside and out, and thought about what would get us talked about while at the same time get used and appreciated. So, we took a section of our car park, grassed and fenced it in and build a small sided soccer pitch and volleyball court. Unique, different, memorable.
In our downstairs area we built a beautiful timber stage, lit it, added acoustic guitars, percussion instruments and a piano, and the space is free to use for all our guests. This creates a wonderful atmosphere in which people share, chat, play together, create, and has the added bonus of being next to our communal kitchen. Food, music, people.
Guests make friends, have great experiences, stay longer.
We created beautiful gardens, grassed areas, water features and maintain them. First impression is like walking into an oasis in the middle of town. People are not expecting it.
Free, unlimited, fast and reliable WiFi. Anyone who pays for WiFi in 2017 in accommodation knows they are being ripped off and it is just a money spinner.
Local maps are provided and time taken to mark these out for guests. We show them all the national parks, pints of interest, beauty spots, recommended restaurants etc. Our reception is open from 5.30am - 10pm and we have a night manager on duty. Guests feel safe, listened to and nothing is too much trouble.
Anyone looking to achieve high ratings, and it is something everyone should strive for because it simply creates more business and revenue, should find a 'hook' for their accommodation, something unique, unexpected, unusual and/or delightful.
Free ice cream with every check in in summer perhaps. A bar of chocolate maybe? Good hotels add bottles of wine as an incentive. Whatever it is, be creative and don't skimp.
We also look back at our own experiences in hotels, guest houses, backpackers, caravan parks and see what stands out as a memory from each one, if there is anything the accommodation did or didn't do that we can adapt.
Being naturally friendly, interested and interactive with all guests is a must, and recognising when someone just wants to be alone :)
Ensure the place is spotless and well maintained, and even with the smallest business bring other 'eyes' into the building to check the place over. It is so easy to miss even the most obvious things.
Surprise, delight, do the unexpected. Play with the business and the rest will come.