Over the next few weeks, we will be covering how we can engage our guest’s 5 senses to increase our favorability ratings.

If we want to gain penetration in our market, then positive guest perception must be our battle cry! Remember sight, sound, taste, touch and smell are the 5 primary senses that provide data to our brains. In turn this information directly impacts our perceptions, either good or bad. If we carefully construct guest experiences by controlling the information our guests receive through their senses, we have won not just the battle, but the entire war.

Why such focus on each of the senses? It’s simply to elicit positive guest response. While there are other ways to ‘surprise and delight’ our guests, when we target the senses our guests will be left with an amazing impression of our property even if they would be unable to tangibly place a finger on ‘why’? When this happens it’s like magic!


Sight is the first of the senses that guests use in their perception development of a property. If we fail here, rest assured, the rest of their senses, throughout the remainder of their stay, will be on ‘high alert’.

Prospective guests experience our properties first through online images. The images we use should tell our properties’ stories better than we could ourselves!

Always have “fresh eyes”

You should make it a habit to regularly and consistently walk your property with the eyes of your guests in mind. When we see something everyday our senses become dulled to the impact. However, our guests see and make perceptions and determinations in the blink of an eye. Do not delude yourself into thinking they are not making judgement calls about the black marks in your hallway (thanks to the unforgiving nature of your housekeeping carts) or the tape that is still on your counter from a previous ‘guest communications’ memo.

While you are at it, be sure your managers are doing the same. Daily walks of the property to identify ANYTHING that might trigger a negative guest perception should be dealt with swiftly. You may never see today’s guests again if you miss this! Managers in turn need to educate and get their team on board and give positive feedback and reward employees who notice the details. No item is too small and it’s guaranteed that the accumulation of small items becomes a deal breaker for guests.

Let there be light!

Light sets the stage and mood of a property, both inside and out. Many properties that we visit seem to suffer from the same problem; they are poorly lit. Dark areas can give your guests a feeling of apprehension upon arrival. Not exactly the first impression you’re looking for.

Again, walk your property specifically looking for dark areas and light them up! Use LED’s for their ability to offer high wattage output that is kind to your utility bill as well as the environment.

You should ensure your guests are pleasantly “greeted” by your hotels accouterments as well as by the staff!

Inside lighting is also important. Be sure your lobby is fully lit. Do not forsake leaving lights on and I mean 24×7. Remember the old adage, “penny wise and pound foolish”? That corner lamp adds warmth and character to the mood of your lobby so leave it on! When you turn any of your lights off or down it says one thing to the public: CLOSED.

You should ensure your guests are pleasantly greeted by your hotels accouterments as well as by the staff!

Don’t overlook the lighting in your guest rooms. Most rooms are too dark. If you can not retrofit some ceiling fixtures to supply more light, be sure to utilize lamps in abundance. Sconces, desk lamps and corner standing lamps should all broadcast abundant light. Be sure your bathrooms are well lit. If they are dark, folks will immediately perceive, rightly or wrongly, that there is dirt hiding somewhere!

To add interest to your curb appeal, especially at night, the addition of landscape lighting or even white ‘Christmas lights’ on a tree or a couple of shrubs by the front door can add warmth and character and a very welcoming sight. Also, be sure these are LED’s.

Takeaway: The brightest hotel wins!

Cool Pools

Does your property have a pool? Indoors or out, your pool is a guest attraction. Be sure you are telling a visually exciting story with it! A few inexpensive indoor/outdoor throw pillows on the chairs will add some life to what is sometimes a rather ‘sterile’ atmosphere. While you are at it, you might consider ditching those tired dingy pool towels with some colored festive ones. This can really help maintain that “escape to a resort feel”k without much cash outlay on your part! Of course outdoor pools demand flowers but if you have an indoor pool, be sure you don’t neglect the addition of the beautiful colors and textures that only plants and flowers can add.

HINT* Once you have beautified your pool area, be sure you get some fantastic new photos to upload to your website as well as the OTA’s so your property can be visually depicted to compete with the ‘big boys’!


If you are an independent hotel owner and not associated with a brand, be sure you have had a professionally designed logo and display it throughout your guest’s interactions.

Do not skimp on the creation of your logo. Be sure you go to the time and expense needed to secure a professionally designed logo. One that truly reflects your hotel’s DNA. From your sign, to your lobby to your guest rooms your logo should be front and center to keep the guest positively aligned with your brand!

Eliminate Distractions

This means we must remain vigilant over our property and ensure there is nothing that sends a message to our guests that is contrary to our brand’s message!

Ok, buckle up … personal rant to follow:

I’ve noticed, especially in independent properties, the abundance of guest communications taped to the front check-in counter. I’m not sure what screams unprofessional more than this one thing!

I’ve actually seen (more times than I could count) hand written notes on colored paper – even cut with fancy scissors. It’s as if the owner believes that this carry over from a preschool craft class could possibly elevate their hotel’s image in the mind of a guest. If you need guests to be aware of important hotel policies or announcements, then there are other way to positively communicate with them. Try the following:

  • Announcements such as ‘pool closed for maintenance’ should be computer generated on good quality paper and placed in either acrylic stand up displays or those that are mounted on the wall. These can be easily changed out with new messages as needed.
  • For unique hotel policies, add that information on your guests printed folio. If you need to draw attention to a certain policy then highlight that before handing the folio to them.
  • If you need to place a prominent sign on a door – be sure it’s computer printed with your logo AND laminated. And, don’t think I’m going to cut slack and say you can tape it to the door! Nope! Removable ‘glue dots’ unobtrusively used in the corners of your laminated sign will do the trick without sacrificing your image!


If it’s worth saying, it’s worth framing!

NOTE: If it’s worth framing, be sure it includes your logo and is thoughtfully written. For instance instead of just saying ‘No Smoking’, your message will be better received if you include something like: “For your convenience our smoking area is located by the south entrance”



Whew! I don’t know about you but I sure feel better!

Other distractions of course are dirt, smudges, stains on any and every visible surface. You may no longer notice that scuff mark on the floor but every guest who walks through your door does. While that mark alone does not make or break their overall stay, the image will be tucked away in their mental filing cabinet.


Paying attention to the small details on our properties can bring big payoffs with guest satisfaction and better online reviews! When we are always inspecting our properties with the eyes of a new guest, we can be sure we are delivering what they are looking for.

We would love to hear your ideas and success stories!