Four Sure Bets: Look and Learn from Others

This last month I have traveled to 11 cities. I have stayed at the Ritz Carlton, the Four Seasons, the Hyatt, the Marriott, Drury Hotels and Amerisuites. Each stay was different, but one was truly amazing. And it’s not the one you would think.

How does my hotel experience relate to the gaming industry? Simple. Each brand has a core competency that must be measured by the price I paid and my expectations.

I am sure that everyone would agree that staying at the Ritz or Four Seasons should be an experience that sets standards and exceeds expectations. Not so this time. The service was good and the rooms were very nice. But I expected superior service, spectacular rooms and many in room amenities, because I was paying for it. Or thought I was. Internet access, for example, was available, but only at a price. That’s not what I expect from hotels of this caliber.

Do your hotels make your players willing to spend $250-$400 per night for a place to sleep? Do they perceive value? Are their expectations met and exceeded? And what about the gaming experience? Do they get the better service, bigger payouts, and greater loyalty benefits the room rate implies? They certainly expect them.

While I was in Orlando I gazed out the window and saw Disney World, Universal Studios, and the other attractions and asked myself, “Why would I pay for a ticket to those parks?” Ask yourself the same question. Why would you stay at one hotel over another in order to play at the casino? If you do not have a hotel associated with your gaming organization, why would you pay to play at your location?

Another trip last month took me to St. Louis, where I stayed at the Drury Hotels and Suites. Now, Drury Hotels is no Ritz-Carlton or Paris, but at $79 per night vs. $239 per night, Drury guests seem to be OK with having to carry their own bags. Of course, the free hot breakfast, free cocktails and snacks, free long distance phone and free Internet access more than makes up for it.

Recently Drury Hotels was ranked number one in their category in a customer satisfaction survey conducted by Media Matrix. More importantly, they ranked higher than the Ritz and others who were in a higher room rate category. Think those free amenities, compared to the amenities the “better” hotels make you pay for have anything to do with that? Here are the rankings:

While in Naples, I stayed at one of Hyatt’s newest brands, Amerisuites. I have to report that my Amerisuites experience was spectacular. While the hotel itself was merely a place to sleep, I was impressed constantly, beginning with the welcome I received upon checking in at 11:15 p.m.

“Hello Mr. Feldman. Welcome to Amerisuites. My name is Chris and I‘m thrilled that you have chosen to stay with Amerisuites.” Now, that’s a greeting! Couldn’t you welcome your players like that when they sign up for loyalty cards? Or when you see them sit down at a slot machine?

And it just got better at Amerisuites.

Chris reached over the counter and offered a handshake. Imagine that. A real person, with real warmth, welcoming a weary traveler to yet another hotel, in another city, where I knew no one except the attendees at the morning meeting.

Chris then offered to take me to my room. She walked around the counter to show me the location of the morning breakfast. And then she observed my reaction to the empty popcorn popper. “Sorry, we shut down the corn popper at 10 p.m. However, if you like, I can offer you some microwave popcorn. You’ll find a microwave in your room, Mr. Feldman, or I can pop it for you and bring it to your room after you settle in.” Amazing!

What are you doing to make your guests feel welcome? How would your mother treat a guest in her home? Are you providing the same level of hospitality?

Upon entering my room, the phone rang. “Sorry to bother you, Mr. Feldman, but you said you had a business meeting in the morning and I wanted to let you know that our breakfast is served from 6:00 a.m.. Would you like a wake up call?” Amazing!

As I unpacked, I set my computer on the desk and noticed a sign, “FREE Internet.” And near the phone was a large bottle of water with a note, “With our compliments. If you require more, simply call the front desk.” Amazing again.

I couldn’t believe it.
Great rate.
Great service.
And great experience.
What could be better?

Well, you guessed it, there was more amazing stuff. The hangers in the closets were not those anti-theft models with the soldered rings that won’t let you take them off the rod. They were easy to remove, and showed Amerisuites’ faith in their customers that the hangers would remain in the closet. Do you show trust with your players? Do you demonstrate that they are welcome guests in your casino? Do you offer free bottled water, soft drinks, or popcorn? If not, why not?

The following morning, as requested, a pleasant voice called to wake me. Upon entering the breakfast area, I was greeted with a smile from the cook. I then watched her go into the seating area and greet each guest. She asked if they needed anything else for breakfast, and offered a newspaper – by section. Yes, by section, not the entire paper.
When I asked her why by section, she noted that the entire paper took up too much space on the table and most guests only wanted a section or two and not the entire paper. And it was another opportunity to show that the hotel staff was thinking of the guest as much as of their bottom line.

In the case of Drury Hotels and Amerisuites, they know that they compete with others for the same guests. So they ask questions. They offer kindness. They don’t charge for the small things that the more expensive hotels and resorts charge for (annoying their guests in the process).

How about your organization?

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