We all know that there is only one boss in the hospitality industry – the guest, who has the power to take away business from you by spending elsewhere. It only makes sense then that the area of guest experience should be one of the biggest investments for any hotelier. Not necessarily in terms of money, but by putting in more thought and channelizing the time to drive better guest experience in simple ways.
Let’s look at the different stages of the guest lifecycle where your hotel can create great experience.
Great service begins with your website, advert, social media page, wherever a customer sees you. We must display correct, up-to-date information. At no point persuade your customer to see you through rose-tinted glasses! Show as much as possible and be as specific as possible. For example, this is the actual room you will be staying in.
Post-booking follow-up is essential in the form of a pre-arrival email or phone call. You can give a wide range of information but you can also use it to acquire information. For example, can we arrange anything for you, would you like anything extra in your room, would you like to make a dinner reservation? Tell your customer how glad you are to welcome them, and how much you appreciate their choosing to stay with you. You could also include, details about ‘what’s on tonight’, the local weather forecast, the availability of taxis; you name it!
Priming is a great tool which can be utilised through quotes, picture advertisements, conversations with staff members and many more subtle cues. It is certainly something I suggest you research. Cleanliness, atmosphere, presentability, efficiency, gestures, gifts, welcome letter, satisfaction call (10 minutes after check-in) body language, accessibility, close contact (get away from behind the desk/counter) will all add to the guest experience. Other recommendations include an express check-in and a returning-customer check-in. If possible, show your guests to their room and make them familiar with the room amenities. Always ensure their requirements are met/arranged, especially if something has been asked for in the pre-arrival communications.
During the stay
Every small gesture matters – a smiling staff member, calling the guest or their children by their name and just checking at regular intervals whether the guest is having a good time leads to an overall satisfied stay. Also, the best time to ask for a review or a check-in update on social media from a guest is when he is enjoying one of your services. A lot of Millennial travelers prefer posting updates during their stay.
Be efficient, ask your customer about their stay. Ensure they are completely happy, or at least satisfied before they leave the premises. Suggest they sign up for your loyalty programme. Get feedback, ask if they will do an online review. Give your customer something to take home. Make sure you have all their details like their email id, contact number, social media handles and more. Be aware that there may be discretionary issues.
A thank-you email a couple of days later can be a great opportunity to remind your customer to write a review together with information including discounts and offers. If you can add a personal note, for example, ‘I know how much you loved our fillet steak, make sure you come back and order one again!’ This will help strengthen positive feelings about their stay, therefore resulting in a better chance of a review or a return visit.
Keep in touch
Do not let the relationship end after the guest has left and given you a review. Nurture the relationship by keeping in touch through social network and personalized emails. This practice could result in converting them into recurrent guests and give you direct bookings.
Look at the way your hotel works and try to see if your guest experience lives up to the expected standard. No initiative in that direction will be too small. After all, one happy guest can bring your hotel a lot more guests!
About the Author
Joanna’s motto is Simple Excellence. Having grown up in the hospitality industry, she knows the trade inside out. Her passion is ‘customer experience’, and helping you improve this for your customers. As far as she is concerned, there is no excuse for poor customer service! She provides solutions, advice, assessment, inspiration, training and support in the customer service industry, specializing in hospitality and catering.
Her other passions in life are nutrition and fitness. When she is not working or training, you will find her enjoying the great outdoors with her daughter and friends. Connect with Joanna on linkedin.com/in/simpleexcellence or drop her an email on firstname.lastname@example.org