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A new trend hitting the hospitality industry sees hotels around the world reviving their focus on customer service in a bid for differentiation.

Here in South Africa, Home Suite Hotels has put its own spin on this trend, emphasising hospitality that feels like home.

Given the turmoil experienced by the hospitality industry in recent years, it’s not surprising that hotels are trying to outdo each other when it comes to providing the very best guest experience. While some establishments are competing by offering outstanding Instagrammable interiors or novel vacation experiences, others have come to see the way they treat their guests as the most important determining factor when it comes to ensuring guests will return. More than offering fast Wifi or excellent cuisine, it’s about solving guests’ problems even before they’re aware of them.

Home Suite Hotels offers the perfect home away from home experience for the likes of an overseas traveller on a longer work trip, or an easy solution for those who are renovating a home. And if anything changes and a guest chooses to cancel, they can rest easily because any changes or cancellations up to 24 hours before arrival are free.

That’s not always as easy as it sounds. After all, travellers’ needs and demands have changed dramatically since the onset of the pandemic. “Having gone so long without travel, guests are hungry for new experiences. This presents a magnificent opportunity for us to fill this gap,” says Jonathan Meyer, CEO of Home Suite Hotels. He points to Home Suite Hotel’s new development at Sea Point’s Station House as an example. Here, guests can organise itineraries beyond the norm, from half-day hikes to gin tasting at Cape Town’s historic Castle, paragliding, sunset beach braais or, for the tired, in-room IV drips.

At the same time, however, many people still feel bruised from the fallout of the Covid pandemic. As a result, while craving the novel, guests also value an element of familiarity. “The formality we’ve come to associate with hospitality isn’t necessarily what guests are looking for. Rather, at a time when we all feel stressed, tired and possibly even anxious, they’re eager for a place that welcomes them with the kind of warmth you’d usually expect at the home of a good friend.”

From our resident and much-loved Woof project rescue, our pooch, Hazel, to our range of pet-friendly amenities that include; doggie beds, food bowls, and outside hangout areas like our rooftop terrace where your doggo can join you while you work, eat or play. At Home Suite Hotels, we are fully committed to keeping both paw friends and their humans happy.

Home Suite Hotels has perfected this special atmosphere. In fact, Meyer reveals that it’s common for guests to wander down to the restaurant in their slippers. How has the brand achieved this? “As a boutique chain, we’re able to spend more one-on-one time with our guests, getting to know their preferences,” he informs.

But it’s not just about learning what guests like and what they don’t: each preference is recorded, so that the next time guests return to the hotel, they step into an environment tailored to their comfort. That means ensuring that the guest’s preferred hard pillow and oat milk is already on hand even before they ask.

Of course, Home Suite’s staff also have a big part to play. Meyer is proud that his team are people who take genuine pleasure in making someone smile. More than this, Home Suite employees delight in sharing special moments with their guests. Birthdays and anniversaries are celebrated with visitors, for example. “We spend so much time together, so we understand the need to support each other – and we embrace it,” Meyer says.

Travellers are seeking more than the tangible, it is the authentic interactions between guests and staff, which is the proverbial icing on the cake. Home Suite employees delight in sharing special moments with their guests. Birthdays and anniversaries are celebrated with visitors, for example.

He says that this brand of hospitality is helping to set Home Suite Hotels apart. “The world of hospitality is changing. Around the world, hotels are trying hard to improve their guest experiences – but, often, what makes the greatest impression is going back to basics and making sure that we really speak to what our industry is about: a truly warm welcome.”

Underlining this is an increasing emphasis on authenticity. That means avoiding the kind of interactions between staff and guests that feel as though they may be scripted, and instead recognising each other’s humanity.

This accent on the person behind the smile is an antidote not only to the almost corporate ambience that has characterised hotels in the past but also creates a welcome contrast to the prevalence of technology in the tourism and hospitality industries. After all, when travellers have been interacting with a digital platform to do everything from booking their hotel to planning an itinerary, the opportunity to talk to a human is greatly appreciated.

“We believe that this return to real hospitality is one of the most exciting to affect the industry for years – and we can’t wait to see where it takes us,” Meyer concludes. DM/ML

We wanted to create a warm, friendly environment with just the right amount of design to ensure it delivers both comfort and a sophisticated urban experience.

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