A bad flight may be frustrating, but it’s over and done once your executive lands. A bad hotel room, on the other hand, can ruin their entire trip, making hotel selection a crucial part of the travel planning process.
Your executive may already have a preferred hotel in the area where they’re traveling, whether that’s a luxury hotel chain like the Four Seasons, Ritz-Carlton, or Mandarin Oriental (or even a local boutique property).
However, if they’re traveling to a new destination or if their usual accommodations are sold out (especially common in the case of busy conferences), it’s up to you to find a hotel that will allow your executive to be just as productive—and comfortable—as they would at one of their preferred locations.
Contact Hotels to Ask Questions
When considering different hotels, looking online at their websites can provide plenty of useful information, such as what’s included with each room and what hotel amenities are available for guests. However, you may need to go beyond the surface to gain a complete understanding of what each hotel can do ensure a positive experience for your executive.
That means reaching out directly to each potential property you’re considering. Here are 11 key questions you’ll want to to ask each hotel, as well as guidance for evaluating their response to each question:
#1. Does the hotel offer rooms or suites with the amenities my executive needs (such as a mini-fridge or kitchenette for refrigerated medications)?
The length of your executive’s stay, along with the reason they need such amenities, will affect the importance of a hotel’s response to this question. Obviously medical needs are non-negotiable; if your executive takes medication that has to be refrigerated, you must find a hotel that can accommodate their needs.
Outside of that, the longer your executive will be staying, the more important these features become. If your executive will only be at the hotel for a weekend, they may not have as great a need for things like newspaper delivery or kitchen appliances. But if it’s a multi-week stay, having some of the same comforts they have at home becomes a bigger priority.
#2. Can the hotel pre-stock the mini-fridge or kitchenette with my executive’s favorite foods?
This can be a nice touch to help welcome your executive after a long day of travel, and it saves them the time of having to order in or go out to get food and drinks themselves.
Each hotel’s answer to this question is especially important if your executive is health-conscious. Pre-stocking the room with healthy snacks helps them stick to their diet plans and prevents them from having to rely on the limited (and often unhealthy) options available at the lobby coffee bar, or worse, vending machines, as a stopgap between meals.
#3. Does the property have a concierge or club floor?
Many hotels offer concierge level rooms, which typically include access to a reserved concierge floor, along with additional amenities. While this may not be a necessity for your executive, it is an added level of comfort that can make their stay significantly more enjoyable.
Concierge floors with separate boardrooms or concierge level suites with meeting tables included can also provide an excellent location if they anticipate needing to conduct meetings with business partners at the hotel.
#4. Does it offer an exercise facility, in-room fitness kit or reciprocal access arrangement with a local gym?
Hotels offer a range of different options for supporting the fitness of executive travelers:
- In-hotel exercise facilities (though be sure to check what equipment is included and how up-to-date it is)
- Peloton bike partnership, available at 50 Westin properties in the U.S.
- In-room fitness kits—such as the one offered by Boston’s Omni Parker House hotel, which includes hand weights, an exercise mat and resistance bands
- Daily passes to access a local gym or wellness facility
Some hotels even offer rental gym shoes and exercise clothing, which may save space in your executive’s suitcase (depending on their comfort level with shared items). Evaluate these different options in light of your executive’s exercise habits. An executive who exercises daily isn’t going to be happy with a lengthy stay at a location with no access to a gym or a subpar exercise facility.
#5. Are there restaurants or bars available in the hotel? If so, can they accommodate the hours my executive keeps or any special dietary needs they have?
After long work days, your executive probably won’t want to go out of their way to find a restaurant for dinner (and depending on their work hours, there may not be many restaurants open in the first place).
If a hotel can offer your executive a convenient dinner option—especially one that can accommodate any dietary restrictions they may have—it’ll make a huge difference in their comfort during their stay. Additionally, this can provide a potential meeting area for your executive, if they’ll be staying in the same hotel as any business partners.
#6. Is room service available? If so, during which hours is it open?
If a hotel you’re considering doesn’t offer an on-site restaurant, don’t strand your executive with nothing but fast-food or take-out. Room service with 24/7 availability makes it possible for your executive to eat in the privacy of their own room, while continuing to work late, if needed.
Room service can also be your ally if your executive gets sick on the road, as many stock crackers, soup and other bland foods that can provide much-needed comfort in the event of unexpected illness.
#7. Does the hotel have an onsite business center for shipping (if needed)? What about a laundry service?
Shipping and laundry needs may seem minor. But if your executive is caught in a position where they need either one, but don’t have access to them—such as a critical document delivery or stained blazer—your hotel choice could leave them in a serious bind. Ask this question as part of the “what ifs” planning you do in advance of executive travel.
#8. Is the hotel in a safe neighborhood?
Your executive’s safety is extremely important, but there’s only so much you can know about an area without visiting it. A hotel may not be likely to admit they’re in a “bad area,” but you can still interpret their response to see if you’re making the safest choice.
If a hotel doesn’t have an overwhelmingly positive answer about the area’s safety and the steps they’ve taken to protect travelers—along with some form of evidence to back their statements up—dig a little deeper before making the call.
#9. How close is the hotel to any other facilities to which my executive will need to travel (e.g. a conference center or Starbucks)?
You don’t need to reach out to the hotel to answer this question. Just open Google Maps and search for each location on your executive’s itinerary. Pay particular attention to any signs they may need to cross busy streets or traverse highways or expressways. If you aren’t sure they’ll be able to access safe pedestrian crossings, you may be better off booking a car service for them.
#10. Does the hotel room have a balcony?
Having a balcony in the room makes your executive’s stay more comfortable and may be advantageous as an escape route in the event of a fire or attack (though you’ll want to remind them to check for locked doors and windows every time they arrive at the hotel). If your executive is a smoker (openly or otherwise), having discreet access to a balcony may be important for their comfort and privacy.
#11. Are there any renovations happening on the property? Or any road work on the street outside the hotel?
Newly renovated hotels are great, but hotels under renovation or near construction sites can be a nightmare. Loud noises at all hours, flashing lights and traffic detours are all potential issues that can be caused by construction. Make sure there are no unwanted surprises waiting for your executive when they arrive.
As noted above, some of these questions will be more important to your executive than others, depending on their specific needs. There may also be additional questions you want to add to this list, based on what you know about their personal preferences. Use this list as a starting point and expand it as needed to find the in-depth information you need about about each hotel you’re considering.
How to Ask These Questions
Email makes it easy to reach out to multiple hotels quickly, but there’s no guarantee if or when you’ll hear back from representatives. And if you need to ask follow-up questions, it could take even longer to gather all of the information you’re looking for.
For these reasons, starting with a phone call (or using the phone to follow up on further questions after you receive email responses) may be more efficient. If you’ve narrowed your choices down to a few top picks based on your initial online research, it may be simpler to begin with phone calls and skip the emails altogether. After all, there’s far less room for misinterpretations and misunderstandings when speaking directly with a person, than when they’re typed out in an email.
Interpreting Responses From Hotels
The information provided in the answers you receive from hotels should inform your decision on where to book your executive’s stay. However, pay attention to the way each hotel answers those questions as well. Watch out for hotels that take far too long to respond to your questions (or that don’t ever get back to you at all), those that give short or irritated responses, or those that seem overly inflexible.
A hotel that doesn’t make customer service a priority before you book isn’t likely to make it a priority during your executive’s stay. A hotel that can’t accommodate every single one of your requests shouldn’t necessarily be disregarded. But a hotel with an attitude of disdain should be skipped, as it’s likely to cause further frustration for both you and your executive down the road.
For more helpful tips and information about successful hotel planning for your executive, check out The Power Assistant's Guide to Executive Travel Management.