I love the online Wikipedia definition of hospitality – “the relationship between the guest and the host, or the act or practice of being hospitable. Specifically, this includes the reception and entertainment of guests, visitors, or strangers”. The relationship starts with that first phone call from the guest or from the guest visiting a properties website. The Internet gives potential guests the ability to find out a lot of information about a property before they commit to a reservation, a.k.a. a business relationship. A guest can look at pictures, visit Facebook, Twitter and read reviews. The Innkeeper unfortunately, if the guest is a first time visitor, does not know anything about the person that will sleep in their establishment. The ability to know as much about a guest before they come to stay at a lodging is priceless for the proprietor. Small details about a guest can lead to little touches made to the room before the guests checks in. My online reservation system has a notes section. A guest can indicate that they have a food allergy or they are allergic to feathers. There is also a small pull down button that a guest can indicate if they are celebrating a birthday, anniversary, honeymoon or other special occasion. These small details are good, but more information about the guest would be helpful in managing expectations and the business relationship.
I recently had a guest that wrote a Trip Advisor review for the Camden Windward House Bed and Breakfast. The review was very favorable and I was delighted that the guest was happy with his stay. What I found most interesting was that this guest was a Top Contributor Reviewer on Trip Advisor. If I had known that this person had such a designation, perhaps I would have tried a little harder to impress him. Fortunately the service was great without having known. Current travel trends show travelers trying to leverage the review benefits. A community of reviewers have developed the Reviewer Card. The Reviewer Card rewards members with the promise of premium service. Flash this card at a hospitality business and the staff knows to impress. So here is my idea, reservation systems should allow guests to make a reservation with their Trip Advisor Id. You can log into Trip Advisor with your Facebook Account, why not log in to a reservation system with the Trip Advisor Id? The guest can expect a special kind of service and the Innkeeper will have the chance to wow the guest. Knowing that a guest writes reviews put staff on their toes. Not only will the proprietor try to impress, but after reading the guests past reviews, the proprietor will know if there are specific issues that the guest had in the past. For example, if a guest reviewed a property and complained about a noisy street, then the proprietor can move the guest to a room that is quiet and away from the street. If a guest wrote that she or she enjoyed having fresh flowers in their room, then the proprietor could put flowers in the room.
I think it is time that the hospitality business insist that the relationship between the guest and the proprietor be on a level field to foster a beautiful relationship. I encourage Trip Advisor and Reservation Systems to work together to benefit the hospitality business.