Travel\Popular destinations

Getting personal

By Ma Xue | China Daily | Updated: 2013-07-15 10:10

Getting personal

 Getting personal

Hotels have to continuously define the guests' experience to meet their expectations. Photos Provided to China Daily

What makes one five-star hotel different from another? It is the attention to detail that shows a guest that they are thought of as a person, and not just another customer. Ma Xue shows us some examples.

Five-star hotel clients march to the beat of a different drum. They pay good money and they demand a standard of service that must stand out or they will let you know. In these days of instant Internet gratification, a good review or a bad review on travel network sites such as Tripadvisor can make or break a hotel's reputation.

Hotel managers are sitting up and taking notice, and they are telling staff at every level to make their guests feel special. One of the main reasons is that travelers are not just looking for a hotel bed anymore, especially at the luxury hotels.

They expect the whole package - and they want the best. And when they get it they are appreciative enough to post it online, for the benefit of other potential guests, whose decisions may be affected by that one comment.

With such expectations and anticipation, hotels need to continuously define the guest experience, from the minute a guest enters the lobby.

"Sometimes a guest comes up to me and asks why we are lining up in the foyer, and I'd always reply with a smile - 'to greet you!'", says Liu Wei, the chief concierge of the Ritz-Carlton Beijing Financial Street. "It may sound clichd, but to us, everyone who walks through that door is a VIP."

Once, Liu found out through a casual conversation that one of the hotel's business regulars is really into Rolls-Royce cars. A couple of weeks later, Liu sent a chauffeur-driven Rolls-Royce to pick him up from the airport instead of the car he had booked. To say the guest was surprised is an understatement. He was surprised and delighted.

"This is only one of the hundreds if not thousands of Ritz-Carlton's 'wow' stories," Liu says with pride.

Never under estimate the power of word-of-mouth, and it is this voluntary publicity that seals a hotelier's good reputation.

The InterContinental Hotel also shares the same passion when it comes to going the extra mile for guests. Assistant executive housekeeper of the InterContinental Beijing Hotel Financial Street, Liu Zhihao, still recalls a story that took place right around the time of the hotel's soft opening.

His team was told about a mother checking in with her crying 2-year-old son and they took pains to create a baby-sized pair of slippers for the child. The appreciative mother later found his team and thanked them for that gesture.

The InterContinental hotel now has child-sized slippers on demand.

There was another time where four of the InterContinental hotel's housekeeping staff spent an hour to create a happy birthday message for a guest's son, on the floor-length window in the guest room using handmade paper-cuttings.

"No matter how old he gets, I think the boy will always remember this birthday gift from the InterContinental hotel," Liu Zhihao says.

When asked what distinguishes the Westin from the rest of the luxury hotels on Financial Street, an anonymous Starwood Platinum Preferred Guest says, "It is the Westin's meticulous customer service."

No one has a more comprehensive knowledge of the Westin's service than a Starwood Platinum Preferred Guest, which requires a minimum of 25 room nights in a calendar year to qualify.

"I have been traveling for many years now. But the Westin hotel in Beijing has been my all-time favorite.

"I was rushing out to do an errand one day, and Richard, the hotel's chief concierge, chased me all the way down to the entrance just to hand me an umbrella.

"It does not matter that the Westin hotel has a king-sized bed or Egyptian cotton sheets, it is things like this and people like him that really makes a five-star hotel stand out."

Zhao Lin contributed to this story.

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