Today, a hotel’s reputation depends largely on the internet, and hoteliers are eager to provide tourists with a real “home away from home”. “Whether they are travelling for a work conference or a relaxing holiday, hospitality means understanding tourists’ needs and expectations, taking care of their stay and always being prepared for change, investing in the facility and new services”. This is the philosophy that drives Elena Caccamo, co-owner of the Hotel Desenzano in Desenzano sul Garda, in the province of Brescia, who works alongside her brother Giuseppe, father Sebastiano and mother Gigliola.
What kind of hotel are you and who are your desired customers?
“We are particularly targeted at conference guests. Thirty years ago, when we joined the hotel industry, the market demanded this sort of approach, so we decided to enhance our facilities with high-tech conference rooms to host corporate conferences and meetings. Over the years we have expanded our clientele to include tourists visiting Lake Garda for sports or relaxation, as well as group stays, especially for British tourists”.
Why are there increased calls for an overhaul of the hotel sector?
“Modernisation means bringing new life to hotel facilities and hospitality as a whole, allowing hotels to compete in today’s market. The problem is not structural, and it is about more than just hotel buildings; true modernisation call for a complete overhaul of the guest experience when they book a stay. Whether it is a holiday, a work trip, or any other type of trip, guests are paying for emotions, for an experience outside of their everyday life and a warm welcome. They want to feel unique and desired. The environment contributes greatly to the emotional aspect of a stay in terms of image and functionality”.
So structural investments are always a good starting point…
“We need to constantly improve to ensure that tourists, especially loyal guests who visit regularly, are offered new services and amenities. For example, over the last 10 years we have enlarged the pool and the breakfast room and renovated all the bedrooms, and in the coming months we are planning to create a relaxation area on the upper floors, with hot tubs and lake views”.
And what about location?
“A hotel’s location is also important from a logistical point of view. In our case, we are very close to the railway station, which adds value to the hotel. However, a more secluded location can also be a plus point for tourists seeking a peaceful getaway”.
In terms of hospitality, do you prioritise expert knowledge or a more personal approach?
“In my opinion, the human aspect is absolutely essential, as customers visiting from other countries expect to be able to correspond, interact, and develop a sort of friendship with the staff they will meet, while expert knowledge helps to ensure that guest stays are as enjoyable and interesting as possible. If customers feel that they are being listened to, and they receive an initial response within a matter of hours, this interaction helps to pique their interest, and they are more likely to investigate how the hotel and its staff line up with their expectations.”
Do family-run hotels offer added value?
“In terms of creating this kind of loyalty, yes. Every aspect of our hotel is overseen by every member of the family, meaning that any problems can be easily resolved”.
Does the surrounding area always represent added value?
“Certainly, but what makes a good hotelier is an ability to get the customers involved, to understand their needs and the kind of holiday they want to experience, offering them specific services”.
“Since 2015, we have been the Bike Hotel for the Province of Brescia, with a particular focus on cyclists and a sportier clientele. A section of our garage has been transformed into a workshop and bicycle rental space, with the necessary maintenance equipment and an area for bicycle cleaning, degreasing and lubricating. We also offer rental services, as well as advice on the local cycling trails and their various degrees of difficulty”.
Is hotel accommodation in this area changing?
“The length of time that people are staying for has changed; we have been seeing more and more short getaways in the past few years, with tourists visiting for just 2-3 nights. It is therefore all the more necessary to invest in customer loyalty, assisting them in their every need”.
Does networking help to maximise local opportunities?
“The culture of hospitality is embedded in Italian DNA, and we are among the best in the world in terms of welcoming guests, communicating with others, and offering services that people appreciate. However, in today’s market this is not enough; we must work with the other stakeholders to form tourist systems, with local infrastructure playing a fundamental role”.
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