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Have you ever booked a hotel room online only to find that the pictures on the booking site made it look nicer than it actually was?

The experience usually goes something like this: You walk into the lobby after a long day of travel. You take a deep breath. Something smells off. Maybe you notice a stain on the carpet or water marks on the ceiling. Signs of wear and tear are everywhere you look, and the PTAC system in your room has a weird (and annoying) rattle.

Moments like these demonstrate why maintenance is a core component of hotel management—one that directly affects the guest experience. In your first 60 seconds in the hotel, you have already formed an impression. And it’s not positive.

In an article for Mintek, Stuart Smith explains that “the maintenance gauntlet” begins as soon as guests enter the hotel. Though hotel staff may have grown accustomed to odors, stains, and shabby furniture, such details are often the first thing that guests notice.

How can savvy hotel owners keep guests from forming these negative perceptions? Stay on top of maintenance! Try to anticipate what is most likely to fail in your hotel and compare notes with other hoteliers you know. Come up with your own list of the usual suspects.

In the meantime, here are 8 common aspects of hotel maintenance that can make or break guest experience:

  1. Curb Appeal – The hotel exterior is the first place you can make a good impression. Landscaping, clear signage, and even the condition of the parking lot all contribute to an aesthetic that will draw guests in and keep them satisfied.
  2. Safety Equipment – Nothing ruins a good night’s sleep faster than a smoke detector beeping and begging for batteries.
  3. Flooring – Maintaining flooring isn’t just about keeping things clean. Make sure that from the beginning, your floors can withstand the onslaught of luggage carts and foot traffic. Keep a running list of unsightly chips, bumps, or stains. Alert your maintenance team and ask them to fix the problems on a specific timeline.
  4. Appliances – If your hotel rooms have amenities like microwaves, mini-fridges, and coffee makers, make sure that your routine maintenance plan includes testing these appliances. Maintaining appliances will help to prevent some of the most common hotel complaints—including everything from noisy refrigerators to worn-out hair dryers. No one ever enjoys seeing mold in the ice machine!

  5. Electric Outlets – Make sure all of the electrical outlets in your hotel function properly Guests now plug in more devices than ever! Testing the outlets, circuit breakers, panels, and plugs can also help maintenance staff detect electrical problems before they arise.

  6. Lighting – Lillian Connors, Senior Digital Marketing Strategist at Bizzmark, explains to Hospitality Net that “a missing or flickering light bulb does not give the impression of efficacy.” Insufficient lighting will make a space look dark and dismal, and overzealous lighting looks too harsh. Connors suggests keeping lights dim earlier in the day and increasing intensity as it gets dark.

  7. Plumbing – Plumbing issues represent some of the most costly and unsightly maintenance failures. That’s why you must inspect your plumbing systems regularly and check ceilings and floors for water damage. Also, make sure housekeeping staff have a reliable way to report any possible plumbing malfunctions or water damage they may notice upon guest check-out.

  8. HVAC/PTAC – Finally, make sure your PTAC system is operational and up-to-date. Stuart Smith tells Mintek that 40%–60% of the total operating costs of a hotel are energy related, and PTAC systems are responsible for a lot of that energy use. Inefficient or broken PTAC units are not only expensive to replace but they also directly affect a guest’s experience and overall impression of the property.

From poor lighting to a deficient PTAC system, avoiding these common maintenance mistakes will keep guests impressed while saving you a fortune in upkeep and repairs. Preventative maintenance may seem like a huge investment at first, but ultimately it pays for itself by keeping customers happy, comfortable, and loyal!