Four things hotel 1.0 and web app 1.0 have in common

November 18, 2007 at 5:53 pm Leave a comment

For the past week I have been staying in a very nice hotel, which I just learned opened only a month ago. Today it dawned on me, that opening a new hotel is in many ways a lot like getting version 1.0 of a web application launched.

Hotel 1.0 does not need all the features

Both a hotel and a software product require a large amount of investment to get to the launch date. When developing version 1.0, there is a real temptation to keep adding features that you think are essential, continuously delaying the launch. Guess what – its perfectly fine to get the place opened with only the indoor pool done while the outdoor one is not finished, or when the first restaurant is ready but the second one is not. I can imagine the hotel owner stressing out about all the things he thinks are essential, but to be honest, the guests are not going to care so long as the rough edges are kept out of sight and what is there does its job well.

Just like with software, getting the doors open at the earliest opportunity allows feedback to be gathered from guests, and more importantly start at least a small amount of money coming in!

Hotel 1.0 does not need every to be feature perfect

OK, the rooms need to be perfect as does the food and restaurant – that is what the guests came for (to sleep and probably to eat) – in other words the core features need to be perfect.

However it doesn’t matter that much if the heating doesn’t work in the indoor pool yet, so long as its still usable. Same goes for software – the user experience of the main part of the application had better be spot on, but I can live with some discomfort in the data exporter or preferences pane … for now!

Hotel 1.0 can really impress the early guests

When the hotel opens, it will probably not be booked out on week 1, 2 or even 3. This is a special chance to give exceptional service to the first guests. If the hotel treats the guests really well, responds to any problems quickly and explains the reasons behind the unfinished pool and restaurant they will probably leave happy and evangelise the place to friends and colleagues.

The same goes for new software products. The first customers are the most important – so treat them like kings and they will tell others.

Hotel 1.0 will have many of the best rooms empty

Related to point 3 – when the hotel first opens, many of the more expensive rooms will remain empty. Why not upgrade some guests into these rooms? In doing this, the guests will probably be less annoyed by the unfinished features and they will have a positive story to tell colleagues and friends.

In new web application the same thing goes – bandwidth and servers are not going to be taxed for the first while (unless you hit the Facebook jackpot) so why not give early users the top package for the first few months in the hope they there when the trial period ends?

Honesty is the best Policy

One final important thing – don’t advertise the hotel as having a heated indoor and outdoor pool if only the indoor pool works, and it’s cold – guests will just feel insulted when they find out and that will be what sticks in their mind. Honest usually pays dividends if everything else is good.

If, for any reason you happen to be travelling to Hyderabad on business, version 1.0 of the Ella Compass Suites hotel is highly recommended!

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