Besides location and price, what are the amenities or qualities of a hotel that make you book your stay with a certain chain or abode?
I'm pretty obsessed when it comes to making travel arrangements. My 40th birthday was last year and a trip to the Northwest encompassing Seattle and Vancouver was on the agenda. Hotels and their locations were key. Friends know to give me my space when booking a vacation for they know it will be great and this trip was memorable. I do not think I would change a thing and plan on going back very soon. But the selection process of what hotel was going to get my business took much more time than most would donate to the process. Where the hotels were located to mass transit, gay hot spots, and tourist musts as price and style were key. Of course these days, wifi is a must, breakfast is a plus, but for some, a gym is a necessity. I was saved from the wrath of my cross-fitting roommate by there being ZUM Fitness across the street from our gym-less hotel. I won't make the mistake of "booking w/out gym" again when traveling with him. Depending on what travel buddies are going, I may have to up the amenities due to some friends liking a little a little more style and convenience than I must have, while on some other trips, friends state all they need is a bed and a shower and that's it. They're there for the city and the adventure and not the hotel.
Many of us in the gay community can find a friend or two that work for a hotel chain and hit him/her up for a family and friends discount. When going to Southern Decadence last year, $65 a night for a room in the heart of the French Quarter was a great perk. And if we don't have friends working in a chain, we decided to enter into rewards programs with a certain chain(s).
I had the pleasure of broadening my hotel experiences last year when I attended Gay Days Fort Lauderdale. The host hotel was the W-Fort Lauderdale and this would be my first time at this resort / hotel chain. Friends had always raved about their experiences and the quality of their stays so I was looking forward to it. Needless to say, having a room at the W for a week was very hard to give up. I made some great connections as well as friends while staying there and was able to make some more yesterday.
Getting back to the conveniences we look for in a hotel. How many times have you had to go back to the front desk and have a new room key activated. Are you supposed to keep the key away from your phone, wallet, credit cards, or all of the above? I always forget where it shouldn't go, where the safe zones are, but when that deactivation occurs, it becomes a blemish on my trip. It's my stupidity, but it's hard to blame myself and I often remember it as a negative toward the hotel. Now the Starwood Hotels and Resorts (SPG) are rolling out an addition to their already successful phone app. With the application of their new tech, app, and the overhaul of all the door locks, you can open your room door with your iPhone or Samsung device. I was fortunate enough to see the launch of this option at the W-Fort Lauderdale last night. 517 door locks were overhauled over the past year to make this possible. Here's a promotional video of what the app does and how it can help in a variety of situations.
So would the ability to open your hotel room door with a phone app be an added plus? Would it swing your vote toward staying at the W or another SPG hotel? No, I don't think the app would be the only thing to swing my vote to stay at a W, but the hotel chain has more than just apps. In talking with Marylouise Fitzgibbon, GM of the W-Fort Lauderdale, she conveys why she loves her job. I was expecting her to say that he has a great staff and a great locale, which she did. She enjoys all aspects of her position. She remembers hiring her employees, pointing out a couple and sharing the first impressions she had of them, their interviews, some mirroring American Idol tryouts, and why she hired them. One of her employees mentioned they have seen her rolling up her sleeves and cleaning rooms when turn around times were tight. Yes, the staff and the location were mentioned, but Fitzgibbon also mentioned the guests. She stated the W customers were down to earth, but still having great expectations for a wonderful stay and her team would be there to meet those needs. She did share with us one desire of a customer, a tiger cub. Yes, a customer wanted a tiger cub for the day. I am not sure it's something that I would need during a hotel stay, but they made it happen, with the help of the Miami Zoo and trainer.
I got side tracked. Sorry. But maybe that's why SPG and the W chain are meeting our needs before we know we have them. We do get sidetracked as to which pocket to put your room key in or to even grab the key when you go to the gym, pool, or to get ice. How many of us forget our phone? It's strapped to us 24 / 7. We don't go to the bathroom without it. With the launch of SPG app and the ability to open the door without fumbling for something that is not already in your hand, and the ability to book a vacation and keep track of your points, SPG is helping us become a little more responsible. Will this make me stay at an SPG or W location? It may, but with the addition of the app to my past experiences and knowing that I will meet people like MaryLoiuse, Raul, Raoul, Alexis, Kristiann, Dervin, Michel, and Derrick, it is a high possibility that the SPG app will be used in the near future. And yes, the app is available for the Apple Watch, too.
Besides price and location, what are the musts you need when booking a hotel?
Would the keyless entry system sway your bookings in the future?