Bathrooms can make or break your hotel

By Larry Mogelonsky

Time for some bathroom talk. As a private, personal space, a washroom’s design can elicit a highly emotional response.

There are dozens of reasons where you can go awry and hamper a guest’s overall experience, whether that guest is cognizant of them or just responding irrationally.

Some of these are blatantly simple, snap-your-fingers fixable. Others should be tallied and red-starred onto your long-term renovation slate. Either way, by impeding a pleasurable bathroom experience, you’re embargoing return visits and positive word-of-mouth.

Cleanliness is first. If a guest is going to turn up their nose in disgust or write a hygiene-centric diatribe online, it’s most likely to occur as a result of less-than-flawless housekeeping. Such posts can be deal breakers.

Think small, yet incredibly irritable entities; smudges on the mirror, hair snaking out from the shower drain; orange-brown rust stains in the porcelain toilet bowl; jaundiced mold crusting over grout.

You are probably thinking, “Not in my hotel.” But when was the last time you conducted a personal inspection? Do you use TripAdvisor and other review sites to identify problem areas? The goal here: absolute flawlessness.
Next, let’s discuss supply – namely, towels and cleaners. Everyone knows that towels should be in ample stock, yet many rooms just aren’t keeping up. What if there are two people and both plan to take multiple showers per day? That’s four towels minimum (plus two more for drying the hair separately if need be).

Of course, turn down service (if you perform this) may reduce the in-room inventory requirements. The takeaway: at no point should a guest be interrupted while half-naked to call down for extras. This also applies to hand towels and floor mats. Big faux pas if guests have to rummage through soggy washcloths to find one that’s clean. For bathroom mats, keep a spare so guests can replace a damp one on the fly.

The main objection I’ve encountered to stocking excessive textile is that it crowds the space. For this, I leave it your discretion; you have to work with what’s physically there. Think of a smart way to rearrange or use the closet for storage surplus. And when it comes time for a large-scale remodel, plan for additional cabinets to be installed.

Now here are some more pet peeves dealing with the more immovable aspects of this oh-so-crucial room. The cardinal rule for all of these is that function trumps fashion. If you’re renovating or building, don’t let a flighty interior designer get the best of you. The space must be copacetic before it can be cool. Here are a few areas to improve:

  • Poor Lighting—Kid’s stuff. Bathrooms should be bright with the correct hues and a focus towards the mirror. If you are looking to upgrade, think halogens and OLEDs as they are very radiant as well as energy efficient.

  • Small Mirrors—Need I mention that small mirrors are a strain on the lower back? The partner-in-crime to poor lighting, it’s always nice not to have to twist and writhe every half-second to see what you’re grooming.

  • Cramped Countertops—Is it too much to ask for a little space to spread out the contents of two cosmetic travel bags? The biggest culprits here are small washrooms, terribly dominant sinks or a lack of cabinetry.

  • Perplexing Shower Heads—Which way is hot, which way is cold? No guest wants to spend ten minutes figuring out how the shower works before he or she can use it. Some are so radically counterintuitive (be on the lookout for Cerberean two- or three-headed spouts) that signage or a user guide should be provided.

  • Always Hot or Always Cold—I don’t want to play Goldilocks with my shower or faucet. Give me one that can deliver a range of temperatures with sensitive enough controls so I won’t be immediately scalded or frozen numb.

  • Difficult Doors—A struggle to close, a struggle to stay closed or partly see-through. This seems to be more of a problem for sliding bathroom doors, as every time I’ve encountered one, whether by design or by lack of lubrication, they are an utter chore to slide or shut—and I work out, too!

These six obviously necessitate a much larger commitment than increased housekeeping oversight. But that doesn’t mean you should dismiss them. Each of these six instances compelled me to lower the overall rating of an accommodation in which I’ve stayed. As a final note,  we live in a world of infinite competition. Why would a guest return to your property if the lavatories—a personal and emotional space —aren’t up to par? Don’t give them a reason to shun you; don’t give them a shoddy bathroom!

Larry Mogelonsky (larry@lma.ca) is the president and founder of LMA Communications Inc. , an award-winning, full service communications agency focused on the hospitality industry (est. 1991). Larry’s latest book entitled “Llamas Rule!” is available at Amazon and Barnes & Noble.