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“Request Upon Arrival” Hotel Program Makes Me *Yawn*

Hilton Group Hotels (Hilton Hotels, Doubletree Hotels, Embassy Suites Hotels) have recently launched a new, concierge-style program called Requests Upon Arrival.

When booking online, hotel guests can pre-order items delivered to their room for arrival. They include no-charge items such as extra towels or additional pillow, as well as items from the food and beverage menu.

The Doubletree site reads…

Would you like an extra Sweet Dreams® by Doubletree pillow? A few more towels? Or a batch of our famous Doubletree Chocolate Chip Cookies and cold milk? These are just a few of the many items you can have waiting to make you feel at home with Requests Upon Arrival.

A quote from Rick McCue (Embassy Suites VP of brand performance and support) states…

“When many hotels are doing away with amenities and eliminating services altogether, Embassy Suites continues to offer its guests more through services and programs like Requests Upon Arrival. This is just another way in which we strive to make a difference in our guests’ lives by anticipating their needs, saving them time and making their life a little bit easier every day.”


[click image for full view of sample menu]

While I agree with Mr. McCue’s comments that some hotels are doing away with amenities and services, Request Upon Arrival feels weak to me. There’s nothing remarkable about this program. Honestly, you aren’t anticipating my needs… You’re letting me pre-order items. You’ve made an electronic version of the Room Service menu.

True Anticipation

Truly anticipating my needs would be a system that remembers my last visit and that I ate the macadamia nuts and drank the orange juice… and this visit having (a) extra nuts and juice in my room, or (b) perhaps a complimentary can o’ nuts with a note…

“Mr. Williams – we know how much you love these… Enjoy this courtesy of The Hilton.”

Now that is anticipating needs!

Renting Back The Mini-Bar?

When I book online, I can rent a mini-fridge for $20 and also pre-order a $5.75 bottle of Corona beer or $3.50 Coke. It sounds to me like you’ve removed the mini-bar and are charging me for wanting it back.

Most hotel rooms have an extra blanket and pillow in the closet. Maybe not anymore… But it sounds like you’ve reduced your inventory of extra pillows and blankets and giving me the option to order one (for free) instead of having it in my room.

Giving me the option to have fresh baked cookies and milk in my room when I arrive sounds pretty tasty. (If they’re truly fresh and warm – I’ll give you extra points).

Driving Me To Your Site?

Finally, I typically book my flights and hotels on Expedia or Travelocity… I’m not using their website and won’t have access to these options. Perhaps this is a carrot to drive me to book directly on the Hilton Group sites? I assume it is better for the hotel chain to get my credit card directly versus via a 3rd party?

One more thing…

Mr. McCue said this program is one way they, “make a difference in our guests’ lives by anticipating their needs, saving them time and making their life a little bit easier every day.

Really?

Is that how this program was sold? By jamming it against the mission statement? Letting me pre-order an overpriced beer is not making a positive difference in my life, saving me time or making my life a smidgen easier.

It bothers me when we marketers breathe our own fumes to the point where we trick ourselves into thinking our sales driving programs are somehow fixing the world. Trust me, this program is nothing other than a slick way to drive incremental sales.

Your Reaction?

Am I out of touch? Is this option a true benefit? Have hotels scaled back services to the extreme where pre-ordering a beer is a true service? What do you think?

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