What Do You Do To Make Your Guests Feel Special?

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I was wondering what everyone does to make their guests feel special? We bake cookies and try to greet guests at the door as they arriving.

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seashanty's picture
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it's hard to balance the cost vs the rewards.

if it makes you feel good to do all the little touches, that is certainly worth something by itself.

kathleen, i love little herb bouquets in tiny vases ... the size of those mini shrimp cocktail glass containers (do they still sell those??)  but wouldn't that be sweet on the table!  tied with a bit of kitchen twine.

flowers on the table made ME happy .... and they were whatever wild things i picked and seashells and driftwood. 

 

now that i see things from the OTHER side ... when i stay anywhere i make sure to thank the innkeepers for the candy bar in the room ... any little things that i notice.  it's just so nice to be appreciated.  many/most guests checking in are often tired from travel, sensory overloaded seeing the place,  getting settled, whatever .... especially if they have to change and get out the door to an event. 

so i make it a point to just say 'thank you so much for everything' 

just like when i go through the checkout at the supermarket.  i look straight at the cashier, the bagger, the person who pumps my gas ... whomever ... and say 'thank you'.  they are often surprised and caught a little off guard by it.  costs me nothing.  smiley

i was often thanked for the great breakfast ... which was lovely to hear.

 

Madeleine's picture
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I went away a week ago to a place I have been in the past, but not since they did an extensive reno. I thanked everyone. The housekeepers (who never came in my room because I asked them not to), the people who delivered my in room breakfast, the bartender who made my dinner, the front desk people who upgraded me tremendously and the owner- the person responsible for everything else running smoothly. I delivered candy to the front desk and left a big tip for the housekeepers. (The room was spotless.)

Since then? I have recommended that place for a honeymoon because I know they would like it there (spa, ocean, etc) much better than here.

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seashanty's picture
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FOOD

i was in maine so i put little bags of chocolate covered blueberries with a welcome postcard tag tied on the bags in guestrooms.

sadly, no one every said 'wow!' or 'great' so i may have been the one who liked them most.

homemade blueberry pie or banana bread or chocolate chip cookies were brought out and served in the evening.  if a guest was coming in late, i had to hold some in reserve for them so they'd get their share.  but again ... i didn't get much feedback in the way of reviews or thanks.  was told the snacks were yummy and folks scarfed them down and the arrivals often commented on great smells of baking. 

i was never thanked for the little cakes and cards i put in rooms for birthdays and anniversaries (my treat) so i stopped doing that.   i wonder why ?

i can see now that i have some distance between myself and the inn that i should have paid someone to come in to give me a few hours breather or be my receptionist on busiest days during checkin.  i remember tearing off my dirty apron and running a brush through my hair and then going to greet guests. 

word to the aspiring innkeeper ... the more rooms you have, the more HELP you need. 

 

Madeleine's picture
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seashanty wrote:

FOOD

i was in maine so i put little bags of chocolate covered blueberries with a welcome postcard tag tied on the bags in guestrooms.

 

LOVE those chocolate-covered blueberries and cranberries!

I wish food did the trick here. Or, maybe I haven't hit the right food. I love finding treats at the inn when we travel. 

We also rarely get/got feedback on the 'little things' like flowers or a cake in the room for a special day. Maybe they forgot to tell us but told all their friends?

gillumhouse's picture
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I have a basket of bananas, apples, and assorted granola bars on each dresser or mantle in the guest rooms when guests arrive. I make sure they are aware of it pointing it out "in case they get the munchies". the fresh flower has been commented on a few times, but i an rethinking that (price went up - a lot) to decide what to replace it with. I grow herbs, not flowers.

Silverspoon's picture
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Funny, we also stopped knocking ourselves out, putting special flowers, notes, extras into the rooms.  Those time consuming, resource consuming extras made US feel all warm and fuzzy but were rarely acknowledged by our guests.  Instead, we find that having a plate of homemade cookies, brownies or cake available in the mid -afternoon is easy enough to do and often gets positive comments.

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Nothing done special here.....but all rooms have room service breakfast ( always) they pick from 5 or 6 main menue items plus time to be delivered at check in, all have various kitchens, beans in frig for coffee (grind & brew maker in kit), cheese/cracker/Italian water in frig there, king beds, wifi, cable tv, dvd, sofa, chairs table, en suite baths, off st parking, bikes in the barn plus yard games, patio w grill, some decks, etc. + walk to all ( 1 block off main st) hot tub in common rm, etc. and an Innkeeper is here 24/7  to help them when needed.   Smiling

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Midwest Madam mine is a simple thing that speaks volumes. I determined we would have a a welcome note or card for every guest with their name on it, or names. This is not always easy to do, so you have to wing it at times.

Having spent a few nights in a hotel recently, I would have thought it was really neat to arrive in my room and have "Welcome to the beach JB!" or whatever wherever you are.  

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Agreed...this is what guests commented on - the special notes.

But don't take it personally or hurt your feelings if sometimes, you find them tossed on the trash....

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Arks's picture
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05/22/2010

I notice nobody has mentioned Googling them before arrival and having photos of their kids and pets in the guest suite.

Glad nobody has mentioned that!

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Joey Camb's picture
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totally agree that is a step too far! its a near step into creepy weirdness!

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Here are some of the things I did:

  • Plated baked treats waiting in their room on arrival with lights on, TV to guide channel or weather channel, welcome letter
  • 25 hour beverage service (water, sodas, coffee, tea, cocoa, seasonal - hot cider, lemonade,etc)
  • Evening turndown service
  • Greeting card in room for special occasions
  • Fresh flowers in every guest room
  • Special bath amenities for honeymooners, anniversaries, wedding nights
  • Photo holder place card at breakfast table (or on in room breakfast tray) for special occasion - Happy Birthday, Anniversary, etc.
  • Different place settings during stay
  • Personal note on statement at check-out and some kind of take-away (postcard, printed photo recipe card)

Tried to put on a BIG smile when greeting on arrival and every morning...sometimes the most difficult thing to do!  Smiling

Breakfast Diva's picture
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05/26/2009

Greet them at the door with a big smile

Personalized breakfast menu with breakfast delivered to their door

Personalized card and homemade cupcakes waiting for them in their room if there is a special occasion

Homemade cookies & treats in the beverage area

With each guest stay, I make notes in our reservation program about little things they've told me on their previous visits such as how many kids, places they've been to, what kind of work they do, etc. On their next visit I try to work into the conversation little tidbits from my notes. Most of them feel really special because I remember them.

If they are frequent repeat guests, I'll surprise them with a complimentary little gift of a mug or other small item with our logo on it, thanking them for being such loyal guests.

When you see them during their stay, be sure to call them by their names. It makes them feel special and they would not get that at a hotel.

gillumhouse's picture
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I sometimes make pretzels. with the horse people, when we get to the barn, I hand them a bottle of water. I usually greet guests on the porch as they are getting out of their car and ask if they need help with their luggage. It helps that my desk looks out at the street and I can see cars pull up.

Arks's picture
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gillumhouse wrote:

I sometimes make pretzels. with the horse people, when we get to the barn, I hand them a bottle of water.

You should give the horse people a sugar cube!

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Same here. There is a window to the left of my computer, looking out onto the driveway.

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I bake cookies and put them in their rooms next to a personalized welcome sign that I print out with Word.  It's always commented on, with a big smile.  I also always try to get to the door before they have to figure out entry.

Joey Camb's picture
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make sure you have software that lets you make notes on guests - ie I have 5 regulars in at the moment - one is a wheat intollerant, one is earl grey tea and no mushrooms, one is no tomatoes and one no beans - guest was also impressed that i remembered why she han't been to the show in the summer as was going to a festival.

having a quick review before they arrive works wonders!

Madeleine's picture
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I also try to get to the door before they beat on it trying to open a locked door. Eye-wink I was baking every day and I ended up eating all the leftovers, of which there were many, so I have stopped making snacks.

What we try to do is make sure we are smiling before we get to the door. That can be difficult at noon...

We have a nice set up for guests to help themselves to coffee and tea and most of the amenities of a kitchen except a stove. I think just making sure that room has everything they might need, being available to help and having local information is about as far as I can go. I'll also put a little giftie in the room if they've let me know it's a special event.

I'll tell you what I've been dinged on...being grumpy. (There's that noon thing again.) And not handing the guest a refreshment as they walked in the door. (You may have this as well but 99% of guests have to put down bags just to take the key for their room.)

So, this year I'm working (again) on that grumpy thing.

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Madeleine wrote:

I also try to get to the door before they beat on it trying to open a locked door. Eye-wink I was baking every day and I ended up eating all the leftovers, of which there were many, so I have stopped making snacks.

Try freezing your homemade cookie dough in ball shapes and then only bake what you need.  We are looking at how to offer a similar evening treat and are currently testing recipes in the freezer.

A test case of the brand name chocolate chip cookie dough found the refrigerated section was pretty good. The massed produced frozen dough from a major home delivery service is not the premium quality we are targeting.

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ThuderingWind wrote:

Madeleine wrote:

I also try to get to the door before they beat on it trying to open a locked door. Eye-wink I was baking every day and I ended up eating all the leftovers, of which there were many, so I have stopped making snacks.

Try freezing your homemade cookie dough in ball shapes and then only bake what you need.  We are looking at how to offer a similar evening treat and are currently testing recipes in the freezer.

A test case of the brand name chocolate chip cookie dough found the refrigerated section was pretty good. The massed produced frozen dough from a major home delivery service is not the premium quality we are targeting.

It's not like I was putting out a couple of dozen cookies/day. We're talking 10-12 cookies for 16 people. 2 cookies would be gone in the morning and I'd eat the rest of them. No sense in putting the same cookies out the next day for the same people if they didn't eat them day 1.

I'd like to make a single cookie that holds up well in a cookie jar. Freeze big batches of them and just refill the jar as they are taken. Haven't found a cookie that holds up in the freezer without falling apart or being so soggy no one would eat it.

BTW, I used to use that choco chip cookie dough. It lasts maybe a week in the fridge before getting nasty. And, it's full of chemicals so I quit using it. Pillsbury. Or Hershey's. Either one.

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Maggie posted a snickerdoodle recipe here years ago.  I have found that those cookies also freeze nicely.  Because of my former non-cook status in life, when I found a recipe that worked, I stuck with it.  I have a family here this weekend for a funeral and we just had a discussion about those cookies because they're all eating them.  In 4 days a whole batch has disappeared!

Once I sent a batch by UPS to an elderly guest who thought they were the best ever.  This is the recipe in case it doesn't come up in the search

Maggie's Snickerdoodles
(So Good with a cup of tea)

1 cup of butter (2 sticks) at room temperature
2 cups sugar
2 eggs
¼ cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 ¾ cups all purpose flour
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon of cream of tartar
½ tsp salt

Beat butter for 30 seconds; add the sugar and beat until fluffy. Add eggs, milk and vanilla; beat well. Stir soda, cream of tartar and salt together with 1 cup of flour.  Add this to the beaten mixture.  Then add the rest of the flour 1 cup at a time, beating till well combined. Refrigerate the cookie dough overnight so it can be handled easier prior to baking.  (The dough keeps in the refrigerator for several days.)

Form the dough into balls. The larger the ball, the larger the cookie.  My cookies start out about 1½ inches in diameter.  Roll the dough balls in a mixture of cinnamon and sugar. Start with ¼ cup sugar and add enough cinnamon to darken the sugar (about 2 to 3 teaspoons).  Place balls 2 inches apart on an ungreased cookie sheet, 6 to 8 cookies per sheet.  Flatten the dough balls with the bottom of a drinking glass. Sprinkle a little more cinnamon-sugar on the top of each cookie.  Bake in a 375 oven till light golden brown. Set the timer for 8 minutes.  Larger cookies will take slightly more time.

Remove the cookies to a cooling rack.  Any cookies you can't eat right away can be frozen to enjoy later.  
 

Silverspoon's picture
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I make a popular molasses cookie that freezes well.  It works really well all year but is especially popular when it gets to be hot-mulled cider time!

                                      Molasses Cookies

Ingredients:                                            Directions:

1 cup sugar                                  1. Cream butter and sugar. Mix in molasses and eggs.
1 cup butter
1 cup dark molasses                   2. Stir in dry ingredients. (Add raisins last)
2 eggs (unbeaten)
                                                       3. Drop about a teaspoon if dough into dish of sugar 
4 cups flour       pieces.
1 teas baking soda  
1 teas salt                                     4. Roll dough in sugar and place on greased sheets.
2 teas cinnamon
1 teas ground ginger                   5. Bake at 350 degrees for 12-15 minutes.

Handful of raisins or chopped     6. Place on racks to cool. 
Crystallized ginger(optional)
 

Generic's picture
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02/24/2011

Maddie, have you ever tried the cake enhancer from KAF? It's basically an emulsifier for soft cookies that keeps them fresher longer. Might be just what you are looking for. It basically extends the shelf life.

You can always make the GF Apricot Coconut balls. They stay fresh in the fridge for a long time and are damn easy to make.

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Madeleine's picture
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09/29/2011

You know Eric I think it's my oven. I had never had these kinds of problems baking until this oven came into my life. We are going to replace it this winter some time. The temp is never what the readout says. Sometimes it's off by 100 degrees. Sometimes it doesn't heat up at all. I always have to set it for 10 degrees more than the recipe calls for. And then I end up having to put cakes and other 'liquid-y' items in for about 15 minutes longer. Brownies come out like soup. Cookies burn. (That's not why guests don't eat them! I throw the burnt ones out!)

Generic's picture
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02/24/2011

That's not good. You might want to get an oven thermometer. Something like this... http://www.amazon.com/CDN-DOT2-Oven-Test-Thermometer/dp/B000095RC5 which you can hang on the rack and see what temperature the oven is, really.

Ovens do sometimes have hotter or colder spots, but you can usually get over those by having an oven that offers convection, so that air circulates. For making macaron it is so necessary that they often suggest not only moving trays from top to bottom, but also turning them around. But I have to say that the convection part is so nice to have for having an even temperature.

When you do look at a new oven, there are a few features that some people don't realize that new ovens have, including one that turns off the oven if you forget and leave it on. But basically other than convection, there is nothing special needed in an oven today. It's nice to have the ability to turn on the oven by time. We use it to preheat the oven. And there is one brand that offers a refrigeration option, so you can leave something in the oven overnight and have it go to bake immediately on a timer. (Whiz bang features that cost a lot of money but few people actually use.)

Madeleine's picture
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We tried the thermometer which is why I now turn the oven up 10 degrees. Our oven was 'high end' when purchased back in 1987. It has all the bells and whistles. 8 years and I have never used the convection feature! It is not a 'standard' size unit so finding one that fits in the same spot so I don't also have to buy all new countertops is what is slowing us down.

No one has the right model/size on display so we can't see them before purchase. One store had one model that was close but it was so cheaply built I could not fork over $1400 for it just to fit the space. Plus, we are looking for one that is black and not stainless. Death to the stainless mavens! Eye-wink

Generic's picture
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You should try the convection. Newer ovens automatically adjust down 25 degrees when you use convection because the circulation of the air makes things cook faster. You might be surprised to find that it regulates the problem of temperature.

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