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Opelika hotel tops company rankings

Opelika hotel tops company rankings


Vic Patel is weathering the same tough times as other hotel operators, but he and his staff are keeping up the same level of customer service they’ve offered since opening the first La Quinta Inn & Suites by Wyndham two years ago.

The hotel, located across Interstate 85 from Tiger Town, has been tops in Guest Focused Quality surveys for the last two quarters, according to La Quinta’s ratings of its 900-plus properties.

Patel credits great location, a staff focused on customer service and an attention to detail.

“We have invested a lot of time and effort into the small things,” Patel explained. “Guestrooms are dedicated to local attractions — Chewcla State Park, the golf courses around, Lake Martin — a lot of different pictures that kind of show what’s in our local area … When you pull up the ramp (on I-85), you will see our hotel pretty much the brightest hotel,” said Patel.

TigerBotAnd there’s TigerBot. Patel saw a robot demonstration at a conference and thought it might be a good fit. He recognized what it would be with kids staying at his hotel, too.

“I thought it would something new, something that would stand out,” said Patel. “For me to make this brand stand out in the region, I have to do something unique.”

It has a bin on top to carry things requested by guests. The front desk staff merely has to load it and send it on its way to the guest’s room. It creates a buzz as soon as a guest sees it in action.

“Kids love it, but adults love it almost as much,” Patel said. “I’ll see them follow it wherever it goes.”

BusinessThe coronavirus pandemic has cut into bookings, Patel conceded, as leisure travel all but stopped in March and April. Business travel dropped off, too, but he said corporate travelers have been showing up in increasing numbers as states have slowly lifted social restrictions.

Making sure everything is clean and safe for guests is the top priority in the days of COVID-19; however, the new protocols for sanitizing spaces within the hotel are right in line with what Patel and General Manager Ellis Sanders have followed since opening for business.

Every surface in every room, even the insides of desk drawers and remote controls for TVs, gets cleaned thoroughly every day.

Sanders said staffers operate as if their work is going to be inspected every day.

“We try not to sleep on the fact that being number one out of all the LaQuinta’s is great,” he explained. “But as soon as you sit there and you let it get to your head and you think, ‘Well we’re doing everything right,’ then you’re going to get stagnant.”

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