Extras aren’t an option anymore. In an age when every Airbnb host puts out a dish of cookies for their guests, you can’t afford to just open the door and let people stay. When customers seek an independent hospitality, they’re specifically looking for a personal touch. I reached out to these five hospitalities to learn what they’re doing to make their guests’ stays memorable. Here are their answers.
1. Kate Islip of Blue Barn Country Retreat
Blue Barn is a rural farm in Nottingham where chickens thrive and Kate Islip goes out of her way to make guests feel welcome. The best way she’s found to do that is to offer them fresh eggs from her very own hens. “The eggs given to guests from our hens are usually fresh that day and at the most laid a few days prior to their arrival,” she says. “Guests are also welcome to come and meet the hens that lay their eggs (and the other smallholding animals), which they tend to enjoy.”
Kate also makes cakes with her eggs, a fact upon which guests often comment in reviews. She says that she naturally likes to help her guests escape from the hectic pace of modern life, so offering goodies was natural for her. “I aim to make guests feel welcomed and spoiled and when there are little extras they aren’t expecting, it makes all the difference to their stay.”
2. Kay Taylor of 4 Degrees West
Located in Cornwall, 4 Degrees West stands out from its competitors by offering locally made fudge, bubble bath, and even a customised illuminated sign. They stock guests’ rooms with tea and milk, too, anticipating that a weary traveler will want to settle down with a nice cuppa as soon as they get in.
This might sound like a lot, but Kay says that it’s worth it. “It costs around £6 per changeover,” she says. Other extras, like the spices they leave in the kitchen cupboards, last through many guests. Kay tells me that guests particularly like the custom illuminated sign, proving once again that customers adore a personal touch. However, the thing that wins their hearts is the anticipation of their needs. “The delight when they see the milk in the fridge is incredible. ‘Oh look, there’s Cornish Fudge!’ is an expression often heard.”
3. Marie and Lorenzo of Authentic Tuscany
Authentic Tuscany is the brainchild of Marie and Lorenzo, two hospitality experts who have turned the village of Viscopisano into a tourist’s paradise. They specialise in offering a unique, personal experience to every guest, including a bundle of extras available nowhere but Tuscany. Before they even arrive, guests receive a custom-designed welcome pack from Marie. “The pack is full of hints and tips on how to get the most out of their stay,” she says.
Upon arrival, Marie and Lorenzo bring guests around the entire village, introducing them to the residents on a first-name basis. There follows an array of options, from wine and olive oil tastings to truffle hunting and local pottery classes.
Marie says that they took inspiration from guests who asked about local flavour. When customers wondered about olive oil, they knew that an olive oil tasting would be a hit. Wine, of course, is a big draw for their customers. To top it all off, when Andrea Bocelli sings in Lajatico once a year, Marie and Lorenzo take full advantage to market their town to guests who just want to see the opera star.
4. Gayle of Chichester Self Catering
When a hospitality specializes in hen parties, then it’s a grand idea to offer shampoo in a welcome basket! That’s exactly what Chichester Self Catering does for every guest. Gayle says that the welcome hamper, which may also include dog treats and flowers, costs around £20. Considering her return, that’s not bad!
Gayle set about marketing with the intention of drawing hen parties to her property. In addition to the free extras she offers, she also makes available special hen party packages, massage and osteopath visits, and yacht rides for an additional fee. The full list of perks, including romance-themed and birthday packages, is posted on her website. She tells me that she does her best to keep her ideas local and that guests who do buy her extras are delighted that there’s one less thing for them to plan. View her Facebook and Pinterest pages to see these ideas in action!
5. Lynne Oakley of Oakley Lodge
If you run a self-catering hospitality, it’s often a good idea to leave guests with everything that they need in terms of toiletries, starter food, and dog necessaries. Lynne Oakley accomplishes this with style and thrift: including her cleaner’s charge, every one of her welcome baskets costs about £10. They include everything from doggie cleanup bags to sweets, and for guests who are about to enjoy a major life event, a little extra. “A Prosecco if they’re having an anniversary and a balloon and card for birthdays,” Lynne says. Her cleaner usually deploys the welcome baskets.
Lynne tells me that she gets the ideas for these baskets by imagining what a guest would immediately need upon checking in. Sweets can keep kids happy for a few minutes while Mom and Dad drop their bags, and everyone is happy to have a cup of tea ready to steep the minute they sit down.
Those are some great examples of hospitalities leveraging their unique selling points to provide great extras! If you come away from this post inspired to start offering extras for yourself, then I’ve done my job.
However, if you want to learn even more about how to maximise your hospitality’s potential, then there’s much yet to do! Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org for more.