Your hotel might have a fancy pool, a well-stocked bar, or an out-of-this-world spa, but you won’t get far without great customer service in the hotel industry.
From your staff members’ tone of voice, to the technology you use to make guests’ lives easier, customer service touches every facet of a hotel. Make a poor impression on just one guest, and you could find yourself with a complaint — or even worse, a bad review. That means it’s imperative for hotels to find ways to improve customer service and overall guest satisfaction.
Easier said than done? Don’t panic. The best way to improve customer service in your hotel is to plan and start small. In this blog post, we’ll outline what exactly great customer service in the hotel industry looks like and give you nine ways to improve it!
What Does Good Hotel Customer Service Look Like?
The definition of good customer service may differ by country and hotel type, but at a basic level, it means being attentive, pleasant, welcoming, and helpful at all stages of the hotel guest cycle.
From research to the post-stay stage, staff must be available and ready to act on requests. Hotels that exceed guest expectations and win repeat customers year-on-year, all have one thing in common: fabulous customer service.
This means focusing on a few key areas: detail, personalization, and creativity. Guests want to feel appreciated, special, and taken care of as soon as they step through the door. It’s your staff’s duty to nurture that environment.
Good customer service doesn’t always come from staff members, however. Many hotels are discovering the power of technology to make their guests’ lives easier and adopting solutions like contactless check-in, checkout, and guest messaging.
Not only do technologies such as these improve a guest’s stay, they also take some of the burden off your team members.
The Importance of Great Customer Service in the Hotel Industry
The importance of great customer service in the hotel industry cannot be overstated. In today’s age, most travelers flock to review sites like Tripadvisor or Google to read or leave reviews. Guests are more empowered than ever when it comes to their accommodation choices.
It only takes one employee in a bad mood to prompt a negative review from a guest, which makes it critical that your staff understand the importance of a pleasant attitude and the best ways to handle customer complaints.
On the other hand, excellent customer service makes it more likely that guests will recommend you to friends and relatives. Word of mouth is powerful! It will also build customer loyalty and encourage five-star reviews.
Remember that enhancing your customer service will help improve the overall guest experience.
9 Ways To Improve Customer Service in the Hotel Industry
Hoteliers can uplevel their customer service in a variety of ways. The nine listed below are some of the easiest to implement and most impactful.
1. Use Canary’s Guest Management System To Wow Guests
Technology is now essential to great customer service in the hotel industry. From mobile check-in to guest messaging, guest management systems like Canary can help you meet and exceed guest expectations.
When teams are stretched and time is of the essence — like during a staffing shortage — technology is even more important to ensure you can maintain a high level of service with fewer staff members.
After a long journey, guests want to get their key and go straight to their rooms. Canary Contactless Check-In enables guests to easily check-in on their phones prior to arrival, creating a better front desk experience when they get there. Additionally, smart-lock integrations can allow customers to go straight to their rooms, bypassing reception entirely.
Canary Contactless Checkout allows guests to easily choose their checkout time and rate their stay on a scale of 1-5 (5-star reviewers are prompted to share their experience on Tripadvisor and Google). Contactless Checkout also helps housekeeping teams to turnover rooms faster, by letting them know which guests have left which rooms. This improves the experience for future guess by ensuring more rooms are ready earlier.
Things go wrong — it’s inevitable! That’s why guests need an easy and painless way to get in contact with the front desk. Canary Guest Messaging allows guests to text you via SMS and Whatsapp instead of having to call the front desk and potentially sit in a phone queue. Canary enables you to send direct and broadcast messages to guests to answer guest inquiries and can even respond to FAQs AI messages.
The employee handbook can only take your customer-facing workforce so far; what makes the difference to customer service is creativity, spontaneity, and a passion for what you do.
Once employees get a sense of the difference their attention and care makes to the hotel and the customer, they’ll be committed to great customer service. Give your employees the training and tools they need to be able to think on their feet and be creative.
One way to do this is by providing a set budget employees can work with when a fix is needed. Allow employees to offer a free drink, dinner, or spa treatment, for example, depending on the severity of a complaint.
Enhance your staff’s conversational and improv skills through training. Organise role play scenarios of various circumstances employees may encounter day-to-day, and encourage creative, personalized responses.
3. Survey Your Customers
While many guests will leave reviews, not all will! Even the ones who do may leave out crucial feedback. That’s why it’s so important to find out how your guests feel about their stay regularly.
Survey your customers to find out how you can improve customer service across the board. Entice them by using special offers, a free upgrade on their next stay, or competitions to win a night at your property.
This could be done mid-stay via in-room tablets, upon checkout using Canary Checkout, and post-stay via email and text message. Encourage honesty and be open to it. Constructive criticism is a great way to improve.
Ask about each stage of the guest cycle and collect quantitative and qualitative feedback. Here are a few suggestions:
Would you book with us again? Why/why not?
What was your favorite and least favorite part of your stay?
Were you welcomed on arrival?
All that’s left to do, is to share the feedback amongst your teams and incorporate it into training.
4. Make Guests Feel Special
Have you ever walked into a hotel, shop, or restaurant and felt instantly unwelcome? Guests want to feel special, remembered, and important to your business. And luckily, there are many ways to achieve a fantastic guest experience.
Address guests personally. Have staff address guests by name; use eye contact and a warm smile, have open and positive body language. Leave a handwritten note in their rooms from the general manager to welcome them.
Add value. Think about how you can surprise and delight guests. Offer a free drink on arrival or provide in-room amenities, such as robes, food and drink, or a coffee machine free-of-charge.
Highlight special occasions. Take note of and remember to congratulate guests on special occasions such as birthdays or anniversaries. Surprise them with a free dessert with a candle after dinner, or a free cocktail, for example.
Listen to them. Show that you care about their feedback and implement it immediately. The quicker you put things right, the less likely you are to receive a negative review.
Reach out post-stay. Send hand-written notes or postcards after the guest’s stay. Utilize special occasions or holidays to make them feel extra special.
5. Understand the Needs of Different Guests
Guest demands change significantly based on their demographic and reason for travel. For example:
Business (or bleisure) travelers may need a space for working — whether that’s in their room or in the communal area. While they may not be there to sight-see, they may be interested in local restaurants and bars.
Boomers,nearing retirement, typically spend more money and book through loyalty programs according to a survey by AARP. They want relaxation and rest.
Families may be delighted by in-room games or toys to keep children occupied. Trivago suggests hosting a kids club or a family game night.
Generation Z travelers want personalization, immersion, and experimental travel. Sustainability influences their decisions.
Regularly review your customer data and analyze who your client base is. Who is your largest demographic? Where are they traveling from? How old are they? Look at the current data you are collecting on your guests and assess if there’s anything you’re missing.
Doing this will not only help you match your services to them, but also allow you to send personalized surveys to different groups of travelers.
One of the best ways for management to discover areas of strength and improvement is by observing, or getting involved in the day-to-day running of the hotel. General Managers should shadow front desk, housekeeping, and other department teams throughout the property to discover the good, the bad, and the ugly.
Observe how your staff welcome guests to the hotel or handle guest complaints, for example. Is your technology difficult to use and affecting the guest experience? Or are your hotel employees unhappy? What are staffing levels like? You can observe all of these things better by being physically present and examining your customer experience up close.
Try not to put your staff on-edge by doing so, however. Hold judgement until you’ve had time to review and frame areas for improvement in a positive way during staff meetings.
Some organizations even go “under-cover” as a new employee or customer to find out what could be improved.
7. Analyze Customer Feedback
It doesn’t matter how great your hotel’s customer service is, negative reviews and complaints are a harsh reality of the hotel industry. The hotels that do best don’t take this sort of feedback personally, however. Instead, they use it to power up their properties or chains. Even five-star reviews often include constructive criticism.
Analyzing customer feedback is a great way to uncover patterns or trends within your customer service. For example, do complaints occur at a specific time (e.g., the busiest time of the year)? Are customers unhappy in particular with one employee, or one department?
When you have the data, analyze it and meet with your team to reveal insights. Frame the conversation in a positive way and incorporate it into future training.
8. Find Out What Competitors Are Doing
Finding new, innovative ways to improve your customer service isn’t always easy, especially when you’re in the thick of it all day, every day. One of the best ways to gain inspiration is by analysing your competitive set. This should be part of your standard competitor analysis, but can also be done throughout the year.
Analyze their reviews across various sites and make note of the things guests complain about — and praise! You may uncover creative tricks their staff use to wow guests, or certain technology they use to make their lives easier.
Once you have a few ideas, use them within role play scenarios, or as prompts when staff need a bit of inspiration too.
9. Treat Your Staff Well
Rest assured, the happiness of your staff will reflect in the quality of customer service your hotel provides. Respect, fair pay, and appreciation go a long way when it comes to employee performance. Foster a caring, friendly, professional environment where staff are empowered to speak up and make decisions.
Provide growth and training opportunities so employees continually see a future within your hotel or organization. Make sure that managers have the tools they need to act as mentors.
Utilize employee of the month and reward programs to give great employees the recognition they deserve, and encourage great customer service.
And here too, technology can be helpful. For example, Canary’s Digital Tipping solution enables hoteliers to increase staff pay by up to $3 per hour by providing cashless guests an easy way to show gratitude.
Customer service in the hotel industry is made up of hundreds of moving pieces, all working towards one purpose: delighting your customer.
From providing seamless technology to getting to know your guests better, there are a myriad of ways you can improve your customer service — and as a result, generate more revenue and better customer reviews.
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