Never turn down good turndown

  • 10 April 2015 | Sarah Came
Towels arranged in animal shapes for when the guest arrives. Image courtesy of Littleinfo/Wikipedia

In the hotel industry, “turndown” refers to the nightly practice of readying guests’ rooms for the night. An extra bit of thoughtfulness in your turndown service can make a world of difference to your guests.

Usually guests don’t spend much time in hotels during the day. If they are on holiday for leisure, they will probably be out sightseeing or doing other activities, while business travellers will be at work and meetings.

This means that the quality of the rest and sleep that guests get in your hotel will probably be the most important thing to them about their stay with you.

Here are a few ideas to consider when you plan the turndown service protocol in your establishment:

Never forget the basics

Do turndown service while guests are out of the room and before they return in the evening.

Always knock and announce yourself before you enter a guest’s room, even if you are certain they are out.

Make sure that the room is tidy, towels are clean and guests have enough toilet paper. If you have minibars or tea and coffee stations, make sure that they are fully stocked.

Do a final check before you leave the room, every single time you leave.

Keep the climate in mind

Nights can sometimes get chilly in winter; provide your guests with extra blankets in the evening, folded neatly at the foot of the bed.

Many guests, especially ones from cooler climates, can find it difficult to fall asleep in the summer heat. If you have heavy blankets or throws on the bed for decoration, fold them neatly and place them in the cupboard before your guest retires in the evening. If you have them, turn on ceiling or floor fans so that the air isn’t hot and stale when your guest comes to his or her room after a long day.

Give your guests what they need to be comfortable

A bottle of water can go a long way to making your guests comfortable. Image courtesy of Larry Halff

Freshly laundered towels and checking that there is toilet paper is a daily imperative in rooms, but there are other little touches that can make your guests that much more comfortable for the night.

There are many benefits to drinking a glass of water before bed, and this goes for tourists as well. If you can afford it, placing bottled water on the bedside tables is a good idea. Otherwise, if tap water in your area is drinkable, a jug of tap water with ice and lemon will do nicely.

Imagine that you were spending a night at your hotel (and if you have the opportunity, try it for real) and ask yourself what you might need.

Are mosquitoes a problem in your area? If so, provide guests with mosquito repellent. They may have brought their own, but if not we all know that being bothered by mosquitoes at night will make anyone miserable, no matter how wonderful the rest of their visit is.

Is there noise coming from a busy road nearby? If so, see if you can provide earplugs for guests. They might not need them, but light sleepers will really appreciate them.

The dream is in the details

A rose for romance. Image courtesy of Sharon Drummond

While a guest will definitely notice not having a blanket if they are cold or mosquito repellent if they are slapping bugs off their face at four in the morning, giving them little luxuries that they wouldn’t have expected can make just as much of a difference to their experience of your hotel as giving them what they definitely need.

One great idea is to mist the pillows with aromatherapy oils for restful sleep. This may sound over-the-top and like an extravagance that few can afford, but making your own room spray is quick and easy. Just get lavender or vanilla oil (both are said to be good for sleeping), put a few drops in a misting bottle with some water, shake well, and spray. Always get natural oils though, and check if guests have any allergies.

Chocolates on the pillows are a cliché, but they do show your guests that you are not just doing the bare minimum. If you can though, think of something a little creative and different to leave for your guests in the evening to show that you care. For example, homemade biscuits on the bedside tables would be ideal for a small guesthouse in the country.

Special occasions call for special turndown

Are your guests celebrating an anniversary or wedding at your hotel? Leave them a bunch of fresh roses and champagne on ice for when they get back to the room in the evening. If you’re prepared for the subsequent clean up, you could even scatter rose petals on the bed

Over Easter, you could leave Easter eggs on the pillows rather than the normal chocolates, and during Christmas you could leave small inexpensive gifts wrapped in festive wrapping paper.

Don’t forget the rest of the hotel

While bedrooms are obviously the most important part of turndown service, preparing the rest of the hotel for the evening can also make a good impression, for instance you could light candles on tables and pathways.