As our fellow hoteliers at Opus Hotel wrote, a hotel cannot simply play dumb and say “what construction?” to guests when it is obvious that a major undertaking is going on. A hotel has an expectation of comfort and for the construction in Ogunquit, it was important to plan for good customer service at our hotel. We fully expect the beautification of Ogunquit to be a challenge to manage –However through proactive communication and planning, we know that this construction activity will be a chance for our hotel’s customer service to shine.
Unlike Opus Hotel, our Ogunquit hotel does not run the risk of sending guests fleeing to competitors – everyone in Ogunquit is in the same boat. However, there are serious concerns that many guests might simply skip their annual – and in some cases monthly – visit to us. But the only option is to be upfront with our customers, knowing that they would never believe we were caught off guard. And really, with a major construction project, who is going to believe that over the course of months? Maybe a hotel can pull off the deer in the head lights for the first week, but once the jack hammers and trucks are rolling, no guest is going to be fooled. Management only has so much wiggle room to feign shock, as though a multi-million dollar town wide investment just popped up overnight.
Often complaints are handled in the only way hotels know how: with discounting/freebies. If the guest is mildly irritated, he or she might get an apology and a head nod. Clearly ticked off? Maybe 10% off last night’s room charge. Having a temper tantrum in the lobby? An escort off property by management or worse, the Ogunquit PD.
Well, our friends at Opus inspired us to think about long- and short-term interests. Rather than approach the Ogunquit Beautification construction like an unspeakable secret, we would embrace the challenge and communicate with guests. To be honest, this seems a little terrifying. What if guests assume that construction is only near the Meadowmere and book at other hotels?
But the alternative to telling the truth seems even more terrifying. There really isn’t a way to maintain guest satisfaction with dump trucks, paving, bridge repairs and more all about town unless one is fair and upfront. We decided to take the (only slightly) less scary route of telling guests in advance. Several times. And maintaining that communication throughout the project. If our motto is family serving family, well, it just made sense.
Yes, we are giving prospective guests and visitors a reason to stay elsewhere. Our hotel will not necessarily be a part of the construction site for very long, and there will even be a suspension of majorly intrusive activity from end of June til Labor Day. Why potentially upset all guests when perhaps none would be disturbed?
Because we feel to avoid the issue is to not respect our guests. Many might arrive and try to suffer in silence – only to never return not only to our Ogunquit hotel, but to the town.
In following the Opus experience, hotel guests are more understanding—and surprisingly accepting—when communication is proactive and sincere. We want to avoid the unpleasant surprise of construction. So our hotel is communicating the following steps:
- Telling the guest about the construction activity at the time of reservation
- Placing a notice and helpful directions on our website and in confirmation letters
- Providing additional detail on where to find updates and alternative directions in a separate letter
- Keeping guests informed by placing information in guestrooms
- Inviting guests to contact the front desk if they have concerns
And finally, as the General Manager at Opus said, do everything possible to address concerns—including, if necessary, letting the business walk. In the long run, the hotel will be better off. With larger construction projects we won’t be able to please everyone and sometimes all that can be done is to offer sincere apologies. We know that despite our best efforts, guests may fall through the cracks. We hope that our earnest efforts to be transparent will be rewarded with honest understanding.
We know that communicating such an important project in advance of a vacation can help guests better prepare. Along with the Ogunquit Chamber, Town of Ogunquit, residents and business owners, we have worked diligently to help our village remain open for business. All we can do is kindly ask for patience and understanding.
Our hotel rolled up its sleeves, mapped out a plan, did our homework to find best practices and we invite you to be our guest and enjoy this adventure together. And hope you will support our local businesses and the Meadowmere Resort during the beautification of Ogunquit.
To learn more about Ogunquit's Project on Facebook: Facebook/OgunquitProject