The Library Hotel Collection - A Refresher in TripAdvisor Best Practices
Want to soar to the top of guest reviews? Follow this great advice.
Tuesday, March 04, 2014
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Library Hotel Collection has but four properties and yet they are able to achieve what otherwise might not be possible for a boutique brand. Perennially, the organization’s boutique-style hotels rank in the Top 10 of the 437 TripAdvisor listings in New York City proper. How is it that these small (not one property exceeds 103 rooms) and less-than-brand-new properties continually deliver such stellar results? Perhaps it is their size that gives them a much grander flexibility to experiment and find a formula that works. Or, perhaps it all rests on the managers’ shoulders.
I’m lucky to have worked with Adele Gutman, the chain’s affable VP of Sales, Marketing and Revenue. In her own words, the answer is simple, “We cherish our guests and we let them know by our actions that they are appreciated. We respect their needs and care for them as we would a member of our family.”
Easier said than done. I was determined to learn for myself, so I joined Adele on an inspection of all four properties. Here are my observations:
- No ‘Innkeeper Syndrome’ here. These hotels treat their guests to a number of supposed ‘extras’. This means free WiFi in guestrooms, the lobby and all public spaces. It also includes: free breakfast, free in-room bottled water, free all-day coffee and snacks, free evening wine and cheese, and free newspapers. That’s a lot of ‘free’! In an era of endless add-ons and drip pricing, the impression left with guests is probably one of awe or, frankly, incredibility.
- Flawless housekeeping. I viewed six guestrooms and could not find an error or item out of place. The bathrooms were small and nothing new, but literally sparkled. The hallway carpets had no stains or scuff marks on doorframes, nor was there anything misplaced in the lobbies or restaurants.
- Small, efficient ‘people-sized’ facilities. These are not large properties. Check-in feels more like walking into a private home than a hotel. The restaurants and lounges have a clubby feel to encourage guest interaction, yet it is not overbearing.
- The lounge acts like a living room. The private quarters are small. There is room service only during the day, not 24-hours – a definite faux pas for many in the business. However, they try to make the clubrooms and other common spaces such as rooftops so inviting that it encourages guests to spend time in the lounge. This gives the staff an opportunity to interact with the guests and build the relationship. It also expands the guests’ enjoyment of the full space in the hotel. The guestroom size itself becomes less important when the common spaces feel like your own living room. And it works.
- Distinctive with memorable elements. Each property is unique; from endless collections of books and the use of the Dewey Decimal System to the number of rooms and an ode to the movie Casablanca in its namesake property. These little subtle details act as the adjectives and adverbs to the nouns and verbs of the hotel experience; they add texture, color and true character.
- Everyone cares. I met over two dozen people, perhaps more, and everyone appeared concerned for their guests’ wellbeing. Their actions were not stilted or fake, as they exhibited genuine service orientation. It’s a system of consummate perfection that includes managers continually reviewing and offering constructive coaching for their team members. They were always looking for ways to heighten the air of luxury, and to treat guests like princes and princesses.
It is refreshing to note that getting back to basics works. The Library Hotel Collection does not set a goal of over-wowing their guests with excesses and grandeur. Rather, they wow them with kindness and use the tools available to everyone in the hotel business: common sense with a shrewd guest focus. This may be difficult to duplicate in a 300-room or a 600-room property, but the lessons learned here are nonetheless universally applicable. Treat the guest as you would a friend visiting your own home or better, and you will be amazed at the results.
And to close, here are three conceptual questions for you to think about as you review your own guest service program:
- Why is it so crucial to have distinctive or memorable elements in a hotel?
- What is meant by 'innkeeper syndrome'? Why is it that guests might see this mentality in a negative light?
- Why might it be advantageous to have a lively lounge area in a hotel?