14 Ways That Hoteliers Can Put Guest Experience First (podcast)
With the rise of social media and internet culture, travelers have now become more informed than ever and demanding like never before. A good or bad review, could either make or break your business. Customers have no time to waste on accommodation research as their busy lifestyle and demanding circumstances of the past few months, has made them even more strict on what they consider a satisfying travel experience.
Hoteliers respectively are now obliged to quickly adapt to this new normal by completely changing the way they operate and provide services, as Covid19 has brought a never seen before change in their industry. This insecurity from business owners might lead to unwanted tactics, such as trying to oversell to their guests only minutes after their arrival at the hotel. This outdated technique leads to feelings of distrust on the customer side and should be avoided.
What hoteliers need to do is to go back to the drawing board and make their guests’ experience a pivotal part of their hotel strategy. Trying to push products and amenities is not enough to make profit nowadays as there is an increasing demand to provide more innovative and relevant to present times services, in order for your business to grow.
Here are some ways hotels can focus on the experience they offer to their guests:
1. The Covid-factor
A research carried out by Mc Kinsey & Company, shows that
a. Intense room cleaning
b. Covid19 rapid tests and
c. Additional cleaning time between stays
scored as the top three factors that survey respondents would like to see from hotels in regards to their protection. The measures mentioned above, are something that every hotel business should take into account when a customer makes a booking. Alongside the necessary precautions each country has in order to minimize Covid19 cases, hoteliers should also take an extra step and apply actions that would make their guests feel safe and comfortable during this challenging period.
2. Conduct temperature checks for every guest
This service is almost a prerequisite as most of the facilities nowadays have a designated person taking guests’ temperature as soon as they enter a room. It is considered an important provision as it creates a feeling of professionalism and gives a head start to businesses when it comes to customer experience.
3. Offer free sanitizer and protective professional equipment/ mask to guests
Even though guests are likely to bring their own protective equipment, it is comforting to know that the accommodation offers amenities like sanitizers and masks. When it comes to hotel supplies, these are products that should be considered as necessary as towels and bedding, as they won’t disappear from our lives anytime soon and customers always appreciate a backup set of hygiene products.
4. Fewer seats/tables in restaurants, bars, and lobbies in order to avoid overcrowded spaces
Prioritize on making your public spaces Covid-friendly. Guests, especially those coming for business purposes, want to feel comfortable and at ease in order to do their work efficiently. Hoteliers need to make sure measures like proper space between seats and crowd management in open spaces is communicated efficiently with clients before they arrive at the hotel premises.
5. Completely automated touch-free check-in process
By incorporating a touch-free check-in process, hotels are going the extra mile to ensure that their guests have the safest experience possible. The reception area, usually one of the most crowded places in a hotel, creates a feeling of insecurity and fear as it requires a lot of interaction between guests and hotel staff as well as surface contact. By utilizing mobile technology guests are now able to easily do the check-in through their smartphones, as well as have their room keys integrated into their phones. The amenities above minimize significantly the health risks of staying in a hotel room, providing customers with a more modernized and Covid-free experience.
6. Update your website with all the available health facilities nearby
Travelers require to know every extra amenity and service available before their arrival at the hotel, as it is an important decision-maker, especially during Covid-19. Now more than ever, keeping your potential guests up to date with all the available details regarding health facilities (hospitals/ pharmacies nearby) has become a prerequisite when it comes to offering a frictionless experience.
7. Tech it out!
We live in an era where everything can be implemented, measured, and evaluated through data. Hotels can shape a different experience for every guest, something that gives great space for creativity and business evolvement.
Travelers are able to connect with multiple devices as soon as they enter in a hotel room and using only their voice, they are allowed to control the temperature, close and open curtains, and set alarms. By offering tech solutions, hotels can potentially attract a younger generation of guests who usually prefer the ‘Airbnb type’ of experience as well as business travelers, who value innovative solutions.
8. Make your website and social media experience seamless
UX is one of the most important factors when it comes to room bookings. Customers are now digitally literate and won’t spend a minute more in a website if it does not live up to their expectations. What does this mean for hoteliers and developers? Excellent integration between your website and booking services, easy direct booking process, mobile-friendly experience (70% of last minute hotel bookings are made on mobile devices), simple room and amenities descriptions that is easy to scan from the user.
Let’s not forget about the social media accounts, which need to have original and high-quality content, as well as pictures and videos that portray all the hotel facilities. Community management is also a must when it comes to user experience as millennials usually express any feedback/ questions via social media comments.
9. Mobile Apps for constant communication with guests
As mentioned above, mobile phones are becoming more and more necessary when it comes to contactless check-in. Their use is not limited in this process, as tech solutions can facilitate the Customer Service sector as well. It is important for brands to be accessible 24/7 to their customers in order to provide a seamless experience. Mobile apps can be a deal-breaker in this new demand as they allow customers to be in contact with hotel staff at all times, either by customized mobile apps or WhatsApp groups.
10. Virtual tours
One thing that all hotel businesses should aim for, is to make the guests anticipate their stay at the hotel. Visual representation of the hotel facility is one of the key factors when it comes to accommodation decision-making by travelers. Images and videos surely do the job, but why not choose a virtual room tour, where the customer could navigate through the spaces easily and in a more interactive way? It is also an innovative way of presenting all the available extra amenities and packages you might want to offer and take the customer experience to the next level.
11. Go the extra mile
The experience factor, can be significantly improved if hoteliers follow the steps mentioned above. An important addition, that one cannot ignore is to give customers an unexpected and enjoyable memory that makes their stay unforgettable. 66% of bleisure travelers seek to travel to an exciting destination and hotel managers are now able to create a well rounded experience for their guests by designing adventures that do not end in the premise of the hotel.
12. Support local businesses and offer packages
A smart way of supporting the local economy and make your customers familiar with local goods is by offering packages that originate from regional businesses. Technology made it quite easy to learn your guest’s background and be able to provide a tailormade experience for each one of them. Find out their profession, interests, and hobbies and suggest accordingly. Leave the sales part to us. At Guest Like Local we allow you to create your own eshop (fee-free) and let your guest choose products, services or experiences they want, so they can save time, money, and energy as well as let the locals introduce them to authentic cultural experiences.
13. Guest rewards
Younger travelers as well as people who try to combine business with pleasure tend to seek destinations and hotels that offer guest rewards. Hotels should incorporate in their business plan packages that give incentives to guests to revisit. Rewards can be given to guests who stay frequently, suggesting people or getting upgraded services. At those demanding financially times, these tactics are a substantial part of guest experience and should be incorporated in every hotel strategy.
14. Build relationships
Prioritize on building personal connections between guests and hotel staff. This can be achieved, either by the use of instant messaging to facilitate Customer Service (guests have a designated person for assistance, making it easier for them to foster relationships), by creating small and intimate events (with all the necessary precautions), or leave a personalized gift during check out. This will allow guests to form a bond with the hotel and its people, have a seamless experience, and share it with their peers.