7 deadly sins for hoteliers

(CNN)Hair on the bathroom floor is gross, even when it's your own.

When it belongs to a stranger, it's especially skeevy.
It's one of those little things that turns happy travelers into disgruntled hotel guests.
    Anthony Melchiorri has made a career out of taking hotels to task, pinpointing their problems and rehabilitating properties in distress.
    He's a hospitality industry veteran and host of "Hotel Impossible," which airs Monday nights on Travel Channel.
    Creating a flawless guest experience is largely a matter of avoiding the deadly sins of hotel operation:

    Hair in the shower (or anywhere)

    Staying in a hotel is part fantasy.
    "When you walk into a hotel, the first thing we have to do is, we have to make believe that the room has just been built -- for you," Melchiorri says.
    "And no one's ever stayed there before, and no one's ever even cleaned it before because it's perfect."
    A hair in the shower? A stain on the sheets? Poof: The fantasy is gone.
    "The second it's not clean, an alarm goes off in your head that really ruins, in my opinion, the rest of your vacation," he explains.
    Cleanliness really is next to godliness in the hotel business.

    Unresponsive, irresponsible front desk staff

    Consider the front desk staff your parents, Melchiorri says.
    If anyone makes a mistake, it's the front desk's job "to be the person that makes everything OK, gives you a Band-Aid, gives you a lollypop."
    Bad things happen when your parents act up or ignore you.
    Some front desk agents have given out guest room keys to complete strangers.
    On the flip side, Melchiorri recently needed a plastic fork for a meal in his room and it was there in about 35 seconds.
    That's the front desk living up to its potential.

    Micro or invisible managers

    Trying to manage a hotel from afar is a losing proposition.
    "There are businesses that can be absentee-operated such as a Laundromat or a car wash. Hotels simply aren't built that way," he says.
    Hospitality is about people working together to create a great experience.
    "If the owner and the housekeeper don't know the mission statement, then you don't have a functioning team," Melchiorri says.
    Micro-management can be a big problem too.
    Micro-managers may deliver a great guest experience, but they don't trust their own staff, so they'll probably run through personnel quickly, he explains.
    "You have to trust. At some point you've got to take the training wheels off the bike."
    Years ago, Melchiorri let his housekeepers go home as soon as they cleaned their assigned number of rooms, with regular inspections to make sure the rooms were looking their best.
    "Trusting but verifying is not micro-management," he says.

    Outdated or non-existent amenities

    True story: A hotel owner Melchiorri has been working with is using a paper plate wrapped in foil to improve her Wi-Fi service.
    That's a hotel fail and an example of one that has "milked out" its profits and is left with no money to reinvest in improvements.
    Owners have to put a percentage of their profits back into the hotel, Melchiorri says.
    He's been working at a California hotel that's charging way more than its competitors, but doesn't have a pool.
    In an area where the climate and the competition make a pool essential, that's an automatic loss of business.
    Still, being pool-less is not the end of the world, Melchiorri says, but hoteliers have to make up for it by working especially hard to create great experiences to attract return guests.
    "Be nice to them, treat them like family," he says.

    Skimpy essentials

    There are pools and then there are bath towels. Bath towels are a must.
    "It's fine to trim expenses, but some cut out investments in new linen, or having that extra person on in busy times, or other decisions that affect quality on a negative basis," explains Melchiorri.
    Losing a guest isn't worth the savings.
    "If you're not changing the grout, if you're not giving good toiletries, if the room doesn't smell good, (guests) are skeeved out."

    Review blindness

    Ignoring reviews is essentially ignoring your guests.
    And risking your business.
    "When owners say, 'well they're not important, people lie about them,' I guarantee you, everybody, you're all going out of business."
    Most hoteliers have a sense of when consumers are being overly dramatic, but Melchiorri believes that 99 percent of all reviews are accurate.
    Resolving complaints is key.
    Once Melchiorri's staff accidentally threw away a 13-year-old guest's playbill which had been signed by the entire cast of a Broadway show.
    The concierge went to the theater and had the cast sign a new playbill and sent it to the guest.
    Touched by the gesture, the teen's mother voluntarily removed her eviscerating online review and thanked the hotel profusely. Problem solved.

    Slow reaction time

    Some consumers are easy. They lead with, "if you have a moment" and "I'd appreciate it if ..."
    There's certainly nothing wrong with that approach, but those guests don't always get what they want in a timely manner.
    Melchiorri does. He's demanding "in a very nice, direct way," and hotel workers are responsive to his sense of urgency.
    And that reaction is important to building guests' confidence to do whatever it is that brought them to the hotel, whether it's a business meeting or a funeral.
    Reacting quickly is just as important as being nice.
    But be nice, too.