What’s in a first impression – Can your reception face it?

As you enter a property your impression is based on two areas… the first is the personal experience and who is greeting them at reception.

This staff person is your guests’ first face-to-face experience with the property. The other area is the general appearance of the reception area. How your reception décor reflects the property and what feeling they get when they first arrive. Our expertise lies with the later point, so I’d like to give you a few different perspectives on how to look at this area in deciding whether it needs refurbishing, and how you go about it.

In terms of the appearance of a reception area, there are various ways to look it. First, if your reception is beautifully designed, has great ambience, is fresh and clean and welcoming it’s going to give a great first impression… imagine your guests horror if they book into this lovely property, walk to their room and it’s nothing like what the reception area reflects. You may very well find that they won’t accept the empty promise the reception alludes to, and are likely to turn around and walk right back out.

On the flip side, if you have taken the diligent approach and continued to invest in your property’s accommodation rooms, whether that be hotel, motel or serviced apartment, meaning that your rooms are of a good standard and have been routinely refurbished, then you will retain your regular customers. You may even be able to increase rack rates, and enjoy the benefits of return business.

That is of course if you can get them in the room in the first place! Because if the reception area doesn’t impress, you may not even get them into the property. Meaning, if what they see first is not paved in a positive light, and reflects in the lovely rooms, the guests may just walk right on by, not venturing to enter, believing from the look of the reception area that the property needs work.

AMG51-REFURB-Reception 3In short, it is essential that your reception area reflects your overall property and guest rooms and has a holistic synergy throughout and vice versa.
So what to do? The most sensible approach is that when you are being “dutiful property owners” and planning your scheduled refurbishment program, you allow a small amount extra to spend on your reception area in order to bring it in line with the remainder of the property. This allows the first impression to be an honest reflection of what your guests are likely to expect in your guest rooms.

If it’s too late for that and you have completed your room refurbishment and some time later are still saying “we really should do something about this reception”, then you seriously need to ‘bite the bullet’ and get onto it. This area is what your guests first see.

And first impressions last, they matter, and it is often these first impressions that your clientele will remember. Never mind the fact that you could be doing detrimental damage to your business. You could also be dramatically losing revenue by not holding onto the guests that could be your “passing trade”.

So now that we agree you need to refurbish your reception, the best way to go about it, is professionally.

If you haven’t already, first establish an identity for the property by developing a logo that can be incorporated into signage. A property identity then flows from the logo to the colour used on that logo, to signage within the reception area and ultimately the colour palette of the reception area. It may be a colour a pattern or a design that is the common thread. That way the Identity of your property, be it a brand or an independent property, is reflected in the overall design and colour scheme. This then reinforces the memory of your property to your guests.

A concise and all encompassing ‘look’ is strong and lasting, as well as having the benefits of being professional. It is important also to remember that you are a service industry and so the ambience is extremely important.

You need to decide what those first impressions need to be. Are you a family fun holiday location? In which case, albeit professional, the other impression you want to reflect is clean, bright and friendly. If you are a corporate based property your aim for first impressions needs to be more serious, professional, subdued and sophisticated.

AMG51-REFURB-Reception 2This will be achieved by the use of the colour palette, materials used, layout design and fabric selection. Keep in mind the requirements dictated by the building code such as fire retardant fabrics and the minimums of commercial material required to be used in a public area.

Your industry professional fitout and design company should have this covered for you so don’t worry too much, just make sure you appoint the right people.

The other crucial, aside from the overall layout of the reception area, which can be a make or break, is the actual reception desk. The reception desk, whilst being a great area to display signage and add interest to your design theme, needs to be suitable to its usage. It is essential that when you plan this area, you consider how it is used…

Who uses it? Do they sit or stand? How many people use it? How many computer terminals? Where are the key systems located, does it need to be locked and secure?
How does it function in the most stream line and effective way? Lots of questions I know.

However don’t expect to know how to do all this on your own. As is always my advice, this is a very specialised field, your local “chippy” and maintenance man, whilst well meaning, will not do. You need to seek professional advice on the design, layout, overall look and ultimately for the manufacturing and fitout.

Time is crucial, as is any disturbance to your business, your guests and safety of the area whilst under refurbishment and construction. Again, not an area you should tackle alone, this is a fine co-ordination of skill and trades and time management in order to successfully execute this process in a time efficient and cost effective manner.


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