How many times have you heard the word ‘luxury’ in a hotel description? It seems to be one of the most abused words in the hoteliers’ dictionary! I’ve seen many hotels claim to be luxurious, when at most they are just slightly better than average.
There seems to be no clear definition for luxury. Looking for some clarity in the dictionary, the word ‘luxury’ come from Old French luxurie and the Latin luxuria or luxus, meaning excess. In other words, something that is luxurious is an inessential – a desirable item that is more than basic but not a necessity.
In keeping with this definition, the basics of our product/service offerings are definitely not luxuries. These include cleanliness both for rooms and public areas, free and fast wifi, comfortable beds, sufficient amenities, generous hot water for showers, enough towels, quiet HVAC, good lighting for all needs, entertainment facilities, and security. These are the minimum expectation. Don’t confuse delivering any of these elements with the providing of a luxury for your guests.
The first and obvious step towards attaining bona fide luxury status is to seek quality – better furnishings and fabrics as a start – to better differentiate your hotel. While these are CAPEX decisions, quality can also be found in smaller items such as room amenities. But beyond this, let’s look beyond the mere concept of quality to try and define luxury for hoteliers with these five aspirations or status markers.
1. The right technology. The luxury guest anticipates easy and fast internet access for all of his or her devices. Increasingly, the expectation is for a tablet device in-room that controls most functions such as exploring room service menus and learning more about the local area. But technology is so much more. It now involves advanced in-room controls, smart thermostats, televisions that record your preferences and tools that can automate turndown service or front desk coordination.
2. Authenticity. You can go to visit Paris in Las Vegas or you can go to Paris, France. One is a facsimile; the other is real. The same comparison applies to your property. Luxury means wholly embodying the real thing. As an example, think room décor with real paintings, photographs or lithographs on the walls, not cheap reproductions.
3. Attention to detail. A fresh flower in a bud vase can go a long way. Folding towels in a unique arrangement will make guests pause and delight in the little things. In-room umbrellas seems so logical and yet it’s a rarity because we are more concerned with theft than providing for the four seasons. Housekeeping tying up loose computer recharger cords will make people feel loved. Newspapers delivered in a fabric sleeve show that you always go out of your way to give your best. Each of these items individually seems inconsequential but when added together they provide a lasting, holistic luxury impression.
4. Personalisation. When in a luxury property, guests expect staff to recognise them and address them by their name. Handwritten notes upon arrival are traditional while an electronic, taped welcome message on the telephone is simply unacceptable. Above all, dedicated effort is put towards remembering customers’ preferences because luxury brands are confident enough to assume that their guests will be returning.
5. A positive surprise. The welcome bottle of wine along with a fruit or cheese plate sets the tone for an outstanding stay. In a similar fashion, your restaurant should always offer diners an amuse bouche, but luxury hotels go a step further in that each complimentary snack is a personal expression of the chefs’ craft and the servers are equally passionate in describing all the details of its creation. The overall idea is to provide something extra that is both appreciated yet unanticipated, and with all the bells and whistles befitting a first-class brand.