In the hospitality industry, a hotel guest’s experience is the single most important factor in determining whether or not they will become a repeat customer.
While it’s always been important to stay up to speed on the latest best practices to improve the hotel guest experience, it’s even more critical now.
Travelers’ needs and expectations have changed dramatically over the past few years and adapting to these new circumstances is crucial. It’s the only way to stay relevant, keep guests happy and make your business a success, even in challenging times.
Below, we look at how you can improve your hotel guest experience and which tools will help you do it.
What Is the Hotel Guest Experience & Why Does It Matter?
As a hotelier, your main goal is to provide memorable guest experiences. But what actually makes a guest experience amazing? While your amenities and facilities certainly help improve it, it’s the intangible things that separate the okay from the excellent. Where you can, it’s important to personalize your service and your guest interactions. Anticipate travelers’ needs and make them feel heard when they have a request or problem. In short, make them feel special and appreciated at every step of the guest journey.
The better you do this, the more your business benefits. Guests who have an amazing stay are powerful business and revenue drivers. They spend more at your hotel, share good reviews and thus play an important part in getting other travelers to pick your hotel over others.
Having a strong reputation online even allows you to charge more. Expedia found that guests are willing to pay up to 24% more if the review score is 3.9 versus 3.4, and 35% more for a score of 4.4 versus 3.9. As you can see, providing a solid hotel guest experience can make or break your business and should always be your top priority.
When Does the Hotel Guest Experience Start & End?
The hotel guest experience comprises all interactions a guest has with your hotel. Everything begins with travelers discovering your hotel on Google, an OTA or via word of mouth. It then continues throughout the research, booking and pre-arrival phases. Every time your guest is in touch with you directly (e.g., via phone, email or chat) or indirectly (e.g., via feature articles, your social media posts, etc.), it shapes their experience.
Next comes the in-house phase, the most important period of the guest journey. Now is when you finally get the chance to wow travelers with your impeccable personalized service.
However, the hotel guest experience doesn’t end when a guest leaves the property. Once guests checkout, be sure to keep in touch and nurture your relationship. This is made easier if you leverage tools that enable you to capture guest information (e.g., email addresses) as they are checking in. That rounds out the experience and keeps the door open for repeat bookings.
As you can see, the hotel guest experience is way more than the stay itself. And that’s good news because it gives you extra chances to delight and impress your guests.
The Role Technology Plays in Shaping the Hotel Guest Experience
Hotel tech has developed by leaps and bounds in recent years. Now, it offers many new ways to refine and improve the hotel guest experience at all stages of the guest journey.
The extra benefit for your hotel is that in many cases these new solutions also save you time and generate extra revenue.
Consider the following tech-driven services to offer a better guest experience at your hotel:
Live website chat: Make it easier for potential guests to find answers to their questions via a live chat. The faster your team responds, the more likely you are to convince that person to book with you. If you can’t man the chat 24/7, implement a chatbot that can handle the most common queries. That takes a load off your team’s shoulders and leaves them with extra time for more complex inquiries.
Mobile (i.e., Contactless) check-in and checkout: These solutions streamline the arrival and departure processes and reduce the total amount of time guests spend at the reception desk. On top of that, these solutions reduce cumbersome paperwork and enable your team to focus on personal interactions.
Mobile keys: For a completely contactless check-in, send guests a mobile key after they register online so they can skip the front desk entirely. Depending on your set-up, these keys can unlock the room and other doors throughout the hotel (e.g. parking, the gym, the lift, etc.). It also reduces waste and supports initiatives to go plastic-free.
Optimized pre-arrival upselling:Offer extra services or paid upgrades, so travelers can deck out their trip with add-ons they value. Benefits of this approach include both increased hotel revenue and higher guest satisfaction scores. Leverage automation to save time and scale your upselling program since reaching out to everyone manually isn’t possible.
Automated in-stay communication: Use in-stay messaging to proactively check with your guests to see if you can do something to make their stay more special. This encourages travelers to ask questions, book extra services and get support if there’s a problem. It allows you to put your best foot forward, generate ancillary revenue or correct errors while guests are still in-house.
In-room technology: In the age of smart homes, travelers expect a certain level of tech even while they’re on the road. For example, make it easy for them to connect their device to the in-room TV, so they can stream their favorite shows and music. Digitize your hotel directory and make it accessible via a web-based app or in-room tablet. Let guests communicate, order or book directly via these channels to simplify these processes as much as possible.
Automated post-stay follow-up: Reaching out after checkout shows that you value your guests’ business and keeps the great experience going a little longer. When guest trips end on a high note, you’re more likely to welcome these travelers back in the future. Post-stay messages can also remind guests to share a review. That keeps your online profiles ranking high and helps you attract more business.
Task management and internal communication tools: In today’s world, it’s easier than ever to streamline and digitize communications between departments to ensure smooth operations. For example, modern communication platforms allow the front desk to assign repair tasks to engineering or let housekeeping ping room service when the room is clean and ready for the F&B amenity. This modern way to manage tasks keeps things from falling through the cracks, so guests get the support and service they need as quickly as possible.
Tech-savvy travelers expect a lot of these options today, so implement the ones that make sense at your property.
The Role of Each Hotel Department in the Guest Experience
Each department plays an important role in shaping the guest’s stay. Still, the majority of work lies with reservations and reception since they’re the key points of contact for all travelers.
While they shouldn’t be the primary motivator, incentives can boost staff engagement and motivate them to consistently go above and beyond the call of duty.
Consider the following options to thank your team for a job well done:
Commissions on upselling revenue: This can be a percentage of both in-person and automated upselling income.
Bonus for review scores: Set a goal for a certain score on Google or TripAdvisor and offer a reward when you reach it.
Incentives for high-performing staff: Offer team members who get positive mentions in feedback forms or public reviews a token of appreciation.
Finally, ongoing training for areas with recurring issues will help you improve the hotel guest experience in the long run.
Now that you have a better idea of how to refine the hotel guest experience and the role technology can play, it’s time to get to work.
Check where you have the biggest need for improvement and look for ways to do better. Is there a new procedure or tool you could implement? Dare to innovate and you’ll soon see positive responses from guests and staff.
The Future of Hospitality: 10 Top Industry Trends for 2024
Looking at the trends in the hotel industry, the hospitality sector’s overall outlook this year is promising. Challenges persist, of course. Stay ahead and succeed by understanding these emerging trends for 2024.