The highs and lows of high season

  • 09 December 2014 | Sarah Came

A full hotel is what the hotelier strives for. High occupancy means that you are ensuring good cash flow and maximising your profit.

The high season rush, however, can be quite a daunting time, and a time where any mistakes or oversights become amplified.

When you have such a large number of guests, making sure that every one of them is satisfied becomes increasingly difficult. Because of the high number of guests during high season, their perception of your hotel can affect your reputation more than at any other time of the year.

Your guests’ experiences of your hotel during this season can lead to either increased or decreased numbers of guests during low season. Here are some issues that you should be aware of and some tips on how to deal with them:

You should be aware that if you put your rates up during high season, guests will have even higher expectations from you.

Often hoteliers increase rates during high season. This can be a fantastic idea – demand is higher so guests will be more willing to pay, and you can bring in some extra money to make up for slower months.

However, higher rates mean that you should offer guests exemplary service. If you can, throw in a couple of nice surprises for guests that will make them feel like the extra money was worth it.

Little things, such as welcome drinks upon arrival, chocolates left on pillows, welcome gifts for your guests and providing your guests with high-season events guides for the area, will all make your guests’ stay that much more special.

Let customers know that your hotel is busy because it is high season, and manage their expectations.

If guests have expectations that aren’t met, they will be upset, but if you manage their expectations, let them know that they may have to wait a little bit longer for their room, for example, they won’t be as disappointed.

Increase staff as much as you can afford – now is not the time to cut corners. Mistakes happen when employees are stretched too thin and working in a hurry. Rather pay the money for a couple of extra people, than have guests be unhappy and your hotel earn a negative reputation.

But, if you take on additional staff for the high season, make sure that they are trained properly; remember, they don’t know your establishment like your regular staff does.

Be honest with guests when there is a problem happening behind the scenes that will affect their experience, and let them know what you are doing to rectify the situation. This doesn’t mean you have to tell them every problem you have, but when it is likely to affect their stay you should let them know beforehand so that they can prepare for it.

For example, if you have run out of clean towels, let your guests know – they may want to keep the towels that they have clean so that they can use them the next day. Let them know that you have sent the old towels to be cleaned, and you will bring them fresh towels as soon as you can.

Be aware of the challenges that are unavoidable, and come up with ways to mitigate the effects of these challenges on your guests.

For example, if there is going to be load shedding, provide candles and explain to guests that the electricity might be out so that they can keep their cellphones fully charged.

How you handle a problem is often more important to the guests than the problem itself. Just make sure that you handle the mistake gracefully, and do everything you can to make it up to your guest.

If you are lucky, you may only have a few hours between one guest checking out of a room and the next checking in. this means that housekeeping staff will have to be on top form, and managers will have to make sure that they are.

One idea is to write out a checklist for housekeeping staff so that even when they are in a hurry, they can make sure that they have covered all the essential elements. Attention to detail is important; rather give your guest a welcome drink and make sure that their room is spotless, than let them walk into a dirty room.

A friendly attitude is vital to guest satisfaction

One of the most common guest complaints at any time of year is that members of staff are grumpy. This can be particularly hard to combat during high season, when staff are often tired and stressed. Ensure that all of your staff know that a friendly attitude is vital to guest satisfaction.

Partner with nearby establishments in case of booking overflow. No matter how careful you are, mistakes do happen, people turn up without having confirmed their booking, or spontaneously bring a friend.

During high season, when your flexibility is limited by high occupancy, it is a good idea to have an agreement with some nearby establishments to take on guests from you, should you not have the space, and vice versa.

During high season, make sure that everyone in your establishment is alert and aware that even though there are so many guests, each one is valuable. Truly care about your visitors, and you should have a happy high season.