If you’re going to give your guests a 5-star check-in experience and really wow them upon arrival, you must first lay the groundwork by anticipating your guest arrival. Be prepared by learning as much about them as you can. At the very least you should know where they’re from. Knowing where they travelled from will help you understand how they may be feeling upon arrival.
When anticipating a guest arrival at your hotel or resort, consider the 4 Cs:
- Commute: Understand that your guest may have gone through quite a commute from the time they left their homes, bags all packed and ready for their Caribbean vacation, to the time they arrive at your lobby. If you know where they’re from you can guess at how long of journey they have had to take, how many stopovers may have been necessary, and how tired they may be at arrival. For instance, an arrival from Chicago to Aruba would have connected in a gateway city and arrived before sunset making their start time well before 5am.
- Customs: What is the customs experience like on your island? Are full suitcase invasions the norm? Or is it a breezier experience? Are the arrivals and customs halls air-conditioned? Are the lines typically long or pretty short? All of this will affect the state and condition your guest arrives in.
- Country: This may be the first time your guest has visited your Caribbean nation, or it may be the 5th. If it’s a first-timer then you should definitely also think about how they’re experiencing #4…
- Culture: It’s so easy for those of us who live and work in the Caribbean to forget that your guest may be experiencing some culture shock upon their arrival. Did their airport transportation drive island style? Did the driver stop to conduct some of his own business along the way? What streets would they have taken and what areas of the island did they drive through on the commute from the airport? What has your guest seen from arrivals hall to lobby? Streetside fruit sellers and goats tethered to trees next to abandoned cars are normal sights for us, but they may not be for a tourist arriving to the Caribbean for the first time.
So, you’ve anticipated your guest arrival now by going through the 4 Cs and they’re finally pulling up to your property – now what?
- Greet them with a genuine warm welcome and a smile. They’ve gone through a lot to be there today and they’ve chosen your property among the many to spend their hard won vacation time and money at. Make them feel truly welcomed.
- Greet them by name (when possible).
- Alleviate the guests of their bags.
- Allow the guest to relax for a few minutes by sitting in the lounge area whilst enjoying a drink and/or a cool towel, snack etc before swamping them with the formalities of check-in. Also, use these minutes to orient the guest with where the lobby bathroom is so they can freshen up if need required. The key here is to give them some moments to take it all in.
- Once the guest has relaxed find an informal way of processing the check-in and getting the guest registered.
- Don’t have them stand at the standard lobby counter (psychologically you need to remove the barrier).
- Create a check-in area like an inviting desk to the site with plush chairs or something along those lines – keep it more informal.
- Once the paperwork is completed, the next few minutes are critical to begin the guest’s vacation experience. You want to be able to verbally provide them with 5-6 key pieces of information that would be important to them during the first day of their vacation.
- For example: Point out key amenities that are relevant to the guest. For instance, if it’s a family that has just completed the check-in process, point out the pool, kids club, and casual dining options. If it’s a couple, mention things that a couple might be interested like the option to have a private dinner on the beach or couples’ massages in the treehouse spa.
- Whilst rooming the guest be sure to point out things that will give them an immediate sense of peace-of-mind: how to operate the safe, what number to dial in case of emergency, etc.
And there you have it! While your Caribbean resort may vary in the details such as the amount of knowledge obtained about a guest prior to arrival or location of the check-in process (be it a lobby lounge to the guest’s room itself), following these steps and making sure you take the 4 Cs into account will help you to wow upon arrival!