Guests want service, not gadgets

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Maybe you should think twice before investing in flat-panel TVs, 300-thread-count sheets or an upgraded bathroom amenity program. A new study from D.K. Shifflet & Associates says they aren't the kinds of amenities guests really appreciate.

The research firm asked 2,000 hotel guests to rate how 26 amenities and services would persuade them to stay at a particular hotel chain. The list included such hot items as flat-panel HD TVs, free high-speed Internet access, upgraded bathrooms and more. Perhaps surprisingly, the two top-rated attributes were "no hassles-everything works well or is fixed fast," and "entire hotel is smoke free."

The second item is easier and quicker to accomplish than the first, but it's interesting to note that what guests ultimately want are the basics: peace, quiet, cleanliness and a responsive staff. Nothing has really changed in hundreds of years of innkeeping.

So as you develop your budgets for 2007, think about taking money from the upgrades and extras and putting it into management training and employee coaching. It's a tougher approach, but apparently it's what guests want.

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