When you think ‘luxury hotel’, does that involve someone coming around at 10AM to kick you out of your room, or waiting in the lobby at 3PM hoping a room opens up?
Hardly. A luxurious stay should feel effortless, seamless, and worth it, and one hotel group is doubling down on those good vibes, ending all the stresses surrounding early check in and late check out. In fact, they’re giving you both, for free.
On a recent stay in California at a property with close to 170 rooms, and all but about 10 empty, I went to the front desk to ask about late check out, since my flight wasn’t leaving until 9PM. Despite circa 150 rooms being open, I was told I’d need to pay a fee if I wanted to check out later than 12. As one of the few guests pumping money into their business during the worst downturn in travel, it felt a bit cheeky.
But I wasn’t staying at a Peninsula Hotel, and in the future, I just now might. Some of these changes legitimately make me jump for joy. It’s what the true hotel hospitality and guest experience was always supposed to be about.
Peninsula Hotels has announced its doubling down on guest satisfaction, with Peninsula Promise, guaranteeing a suite of new benefits including automatic early check in and late checkout for all guests, but also much more.
How early? How late? You can arrive as early as 6AM on the day of your Peninsula stay, and leave as late at 10PM. Is that a win, or is that a win?
The move is part of a sweeping array of benefits for booking direct, versus using online travel agencies. Doing so saves a hotel between 15-28% in commission paid to the OTA which is serious change in these difficult times. Stays booked by preferred agents such as Virtuoso will also be eligible for the automatic privileges. It’s called “Peninsula Time”.
Beginning January 2021, guests at all Peninsula properties will be able to take advantage of Peninsula Time – a distinctive programme that allows for a fully flexible check-in and check-out experience. With Peninsula Time, guests can arrange to have their room ready as early as 6:00 am on their arrival date and check out as late as 10:00 pm on their departure date at no extra charge when they book directly or with their preferred travel advisor.Peninsula Hotels
Hotels aren’t expected to bounce back to 100% capacity any time soon, which makes this guarantee easier to deliver on. Plus, cleaning protocols in many areas now require extra time, which means hotels can’t simply slip a guest in just an hour after the next. Basically, it’s real, and makes sense – for now.
Whether this is able to remain as travel comes back during vaccine distribution is another story, but to some extent, travelers are always on different schedules You will always have business travelers who leave at 6AM without choice, thus creating some opportunity to prep rooms early.
Could it be watered down to 10AM check in and 6PM checkout over time? Sure, but that’s still a lot better than the best case with most luxury brands.
In addition to this best in class arrival and departure offerings, Peninsula is making family and friends travel easier, with guaranteed connecting rooms, and a series of offers for booking two or more rooms, with a discount, or breakfast.
Beginning 1 January 2021, guests who reserve one of The Peninsula Hotels’ elegantly appointed rooms or suites directly via peninsula.com will be able to select and confirm a connecting room or suite at the time of booking.
In addition, when booking connecting rooms and suites on peninsula.com, Peninsula guests can take advantage of The Right Connection* offer, including: 20% off the room rate when booking two connecting rooms 25% off the room rate when booking a connecting room and suite, Daily breakfast for each guest staying in a connecting room or suite, or US$100 credit at hotel restaurants or spa during the stay.Peninsula Hotels
But why stop there? If you’re going to make hospitality live up to its definition rather than just some vague idea, why not drill further? It appears Peninsula has done exactly that, by eliminating another pet-hate of customers: picking up the phone.
Peninsula Hotels is rolling out ‘PenChat’, where you have 24 hour access to the hotel concierge via your favorite messaging apps, like WhatsApp, Facebook messenger and more. If you need something, you don’t need to walk down to the desk, or figure out which button on the phone to press, unless you want to. Here’s the story…
With The Peninsula Hotels’ recently launched PenChat, a 24-hour private e-concierge service, Peninsula guests experience the ultimate in personalised attention. Without the trouble of downloading a new app, PenChat allows guests to text requests and questions to their hotel’s concierge team from instant messaging apps (WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, WeChat or LINE) they already use on their mobile device at any time of day or night, and receive real-time replies addressing their needs.
Messaging is provided both in English and the local language of each hotel. In this way, guests can be reassured that every aspect of their stay is attended to – from dining and transport reservations to local activity recommendations to in-room delivery of special items like extra pillows – quickly and securely.Peninsula Hotels
And even as travel is recovering, and many hotel chains and airline groups begin to remove flexible policies, Peninsula is also going the distance in flexibility too. You can cancel most rates up to 3PM the day before with no penalty, and advanced purchase discount rates can be moved to alternative dates for 12 months, with no penalty either.
Basically, you shouldn’t be afraid to bag an early booking bargain, because they won’t hold you in contempt if plans change, and tell you your money is gone. With 3PM day before cancellation on all other rates, there’s really nothing to lose on making some fun bookings for the future.
This Is Hospitality
The hospitality industry was once about taking care of guests. Hotels set a rate to justify their costs and make some money, but then they went to every step possible to make a guest believe their place was better than any other. But then the beancounters came, and all they saw was spreadsheets.
The lasting travel memories and good vibes could not be accounted for on their screens, so they simply convinced hotels to do away with anything that didn’t make money, not just things that didn’t lose money.
It feels almost spiritually awakening to see a storied brand, so synonymous with hotel luxury around the world diving deeper into what that means, rather than separating out each perk, and turning it into a paid for item. Peninsula Hotels sure ain’t cheap, but it’d be harder to argue they’re not “worth it”, thanks to these amazing changes.
You can check out the full suite of Peninsula’s new guarantees for guests here.
It will be interesting to follow this as occupancy rates increase through travel recovery. The logistics can become a challenge and the first thing that comes to mind for me is arriving guests, when a property was at 70% occupancy the night before, demanding a free night if they cannot check in to a room at 10am. Call me a cynic, but I do wish them success. Hopefully the demeanor of the guest at this price point is different than then brands I work with- Signed, One of the Beans
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