20 Ideas To Improve Hotel Guest Experience: From Research to Post-stay (2024 Edition)

Bryan Michalis
Bryan Michalis
Updated
April 25, 2024
/
Published
December 13, 2022
20 Ideas To Improve Hotel Guest Experience: From Research to Post-stay (2024 Edition)

What’s your Wi-Fi password? Can I cast Netflix to the in-room TV? How are you keeping my data safe? Can I checkout late? 

Hotel guests’ expectations change day-by-day which makes it ever-important to enhance your hotel guest experience at every stage. 

Understanding what your customers want is only half the job. Implementing change will ensure your guests get the best experience possible. And going the extra mile can be tricky if you’re working with reduced teams or limited budgets. We’ve compiled a list of 18 easy-to-implement ideas for a more positive guest experience

What Does “Guest Experience” Mean in the Hospitality Industry?

The hotel guest experience is the entirety of the interactions a hotelier's property has with a guest. Their experience, you might be surprised to learn, actually begins before they step foot in your hotel — or even before they’ve clicked “Book”! 

Every single touchpoint influences their overall experience. Most often, it begins the moment they discover your property, whether that be on Google, Tripadvisor, Booking.com or any other platforms. And their experience doesn’t just end the moment they check out. In fact, if you play your cards right, it might not end at all.

Some elements of the guest experience will always be at the forefront of a hotelier’s mind — like cleanliness of rooms or the efficiency of waitstaff. But so many are less obvious, yet crucial.

A great guest experience doesn’t require perfection. Things can and do go wrong. It’s the way you handle the situation — the way you make it up to the guest — that matters. This can also be the difference between a positive review and a terrible one. 

The Difference Between Hotel Guest Experience & Hotel Guest Service

It’s important for hoteliers to understand the difference between guest service and guest experience.

Guest service is reactive. For example, if a guest approaches a receptionist and complains about their room and the front desk staff does something about it, that’s service. 

Guest experience, on the other hand, is proactive — for example, when checking in, the receptionist congratulates a repeat guest on their birthday and gives them a voucher for a free drink at the bar. 

By adding extra value or personalizing your offerings, guests feel special, which in turn could turn an average guest experience into an exceptional one. Bonus points if they leave you a five-star review! 

Why Is Improving Hotel Guest Experience so Important?

It’s simple: the better the overall guest experience, the more likely they’ll return, recommend you to friends and family, write you a killer review, or tag you in social posts. 

The alternative — negative reviews and poor experiences — could leave you far behind your competitors. 

Guest expectations are consistently evolving, which means that guest experience management practices have to evolve over time with them. From cleanliness and hygiene to technological needs, staying up-to-date with the times, and with your target audience, is non-negotiable. 

This is where considering different types of guests and their needs or demands will help you personalize your offerings and communications. 

When Does the Guest Experience Start & End? 

The hotel guest experience begins as soon as someone discovers your property, and ends after they checkout. This is also called the guest cycle, and understanding it will help you improve your guest experience and drive more revenue. There are seven key stages of the cycle: 

  • Research: This is the “inspiration phase”. Future guests are gathering ideas for their trip. This is your chance to attract potential guests with great marketing and high quality online travel agency (OTA) profiles. 
  • Booking: Guests have likely shortlisted you, compared prices with other properties, and are ready to book. Make sure your booking process is seamless and simple. Remember that many consumers book on their phones. 
  • Pre-arrival: While a commonly overlooked phase, this is your opportunity to beat your comp set, delight guests, and drive revenue. Ensure communication is timely and helpful. 
  • Arrival: Guests want to feel at-home and valued from the moment they walk into your lobby. Long waiting times or an aloof, inattentive front desk can spoil an experience before it’s even begun. Use Contactless Check-In, for example, to speed things up.
  • In-House: From being attentive and responsive to clever and thoughtful, this is the phase that matters most to a guest’s overall experience. Give guests the ability to communicate easily with your teams through Guest Messaging and keep them posted on your creative guest services!
  • Departure: When guests are checking out, it’s important to make this process as smooth as possible. Offer Contactless Checkout to speed things up for them, or offer them a late checkout. 
  • Post-stay: Even though your guest has checked out, they’re still important! This is your opportunity, through smart communications, to turn them into a loyal customer - or an advocate of your hotel! 

Infographic: 7 Key stages of the Guest Journey

20 Ideas To Improve the Hotel Guest Experience: From Research to Post-stay

Infographic: 20 Ideas to Improve Hotel Guest Experiences

1. Implement a Live Chatbot To Address Queries Quickly

Chatbots are a fantastic way to address customer service queries as they occur and can help you convert customers quicker.

Be sure to have someone on hand during working hours to reply in a timely manner. Unanswered queries about your availability, rates, location or other amenity can force a potential customer to choose another more responsive venue. If you're facing challenges with staffing your front desk, you might want to explore the benefits of AI guest messaging.

2. Make Your Website Mobile-friendly

With so many users now booking from their phones, it’s imperative that the browsing experience is easy and efficient on a cellphone. Guests are all too familiar with irritating pop-ups, ugly text and buggy buttons that do nothing when clicked — and such experiences only damage your reputation.

3. Clearly State Your Accommodations and Offerings Online

False advertising is a great way to ruin the guest experience. Beautiful imagery and impressive copy, while a marketing-must, will fall short if it fails to live up to reality.

Be open and honest on your website and OTAs about what you offer, so you meet their expectations upon arrival.

Booking

4. Ensure a Smooth Booking Experience

How fast and easy is your booking process? Much like the browsing experience, your booking experience must be simple and clear.

Prioritize the mobile booking experience, and ensure that every drop-down and button works regularly.

5. Keep Guest Data Safe

As guests grow more concerned about hotel data breaches, prioritizing security measures to guard your guests’ data is a must. For example, PCI non-compliant paper and PDF credit card authorization forms are known targets of bad actors and should be swapped out for secure digital solutions.

Pre-arrival

6. Reach Out Two Weeks Before Check-In

Timely, well-intentioned emails before guests arrive for check-in go a long way in ensuring your guests have a memorable stay.

It’s likely that in the weeks leading up to their vacation, travelers will be researching restaurants, landmarks and other things to do in your destination.

Send an email or two suggesting a selection of restaurants, cafes, landmarks or experiences. If you want to go the extra mile, add prices and menu recommendations.

7. Answer Queries in Any Form

Make sure that your team is available for any customer query in the lead-up to their stay. While younger travelers may prefer customer service chatbots and email, an older clientele may prefer to phone the hotel.

Being unreachable can cast a negative light on the guest’s experience at any point in their stay.

Arrival

8. Congratulate Guests on Special Occasions

Begin your guests’ stay on a high by greeting them warmly and congratulating them on a special occasion. Perhaps they let you know of a birthday or anniversary during the pre-arrival phase, but for other more regular guests, use their data to take them by surprise (e.g., “Welcome to your second stay with us. We’re so happy you decided to come back!”).

Then, throw in a free cocktail, dessert or starter with dinner.

9. Make Check-in Contactless

After a long, tiring journey, guests don’t want to stand around in queues or deal with an arduous check-in process. It’s a good idea to give them the option to check in on their own mobile device.

Hoteliers should opt for natively mobile-friendly online check-in solutions like Canary Contactless Check-In, which requires no new downloads and is built on top of a PCI Compliant infrastructure to help prevent fraud.

10. Think About How You’ll Greet Your Guests

Before guests arrive, review the names and details of all guests arriving that day and greet them by name with a smile.

If you're wondering how you can train your staff members to provide a higher level of service, you can use pre-written welcome scripts that help front desk agents practice the perfect welcome.

Add complimentary refreshments in the lobby in case they’ve arrived a little before their check-in slot, or offer them a complimentary hot drink in the bar or cafe.

In-house

11. Use Guest Messaging To Catch & Address Complaints

As mentioned previously, things can and do go wrong, but it’s how you deal with it that matters. Give guests the option to use guest messaging technology to contact you as conveniently as possible. This could be an SMS or WhatsApp for example. Once you receive a complaint, deal with it as quickly and professionally as possible.

12. Give Updates in Real-Time

If something is happening with a guest’s room or some of the amenities or services at the property (e.g., a bathroom sink in a guest room or the hotel’s hot tub) are out of order, guests want real-time updates and status reports. Hoteliers looking to provide an exceptional experience to every guest should invest in tools that enable them to quickly communicate with both individual and broadcast messages.

13. Implement Sustainable Practices

Sustainability in the hospitality industry is a hot topic, set to grow even hotter in the coming years and guests are increasingly making choices with this in mind.

You don’t need to install expensive solar panels or living walls to enhance the guest experience quite yet, but you should find ways to practice and market your sustainability. Recycling or reducing waste, composting or donating are all great ways to do your part while sticking to a budget.

Modern hotel management software that handles digital payments, like the kind found in Canary's platform, can significantly help reduce wasted paper by replacing paper forms with a secure online alternative.

14. Partner With Local Businesses

Travelers often ask front desk staff for tips or inspiration for daily excursions, so make sure they’re armed with a myriad of ideas.

Knowing the best times of day to visit busy landmarks, the tastiest cheesecakes in town, or tourist traps to avoid will help make your guest's stay the best it can be.

15. Improve Your In-Room Amenities

Some guests will spend a very small amount of time in their rooms, but it’s important to make sure they are as comfortable and looked after as possible. While your rooms may boast of the basics, adding extras like kettles, coffee machines and other helpful amenities boost guest satisfaction and make guests feel more at home.

Departure

16. Offer Contactless Checkout

A quick and painless checkout could be the icing on the cake after a wonderful stay. Offer contactless checkout to allow guests to get on with their day. Canary Contactless Checkout, for example, allows guests to choose their checkout time — or even a late checkout for a fee.

17. Ask for Feedback

While it might not have a big impact on the quality of guests' stays, knowing areas of opportunity will help you improve the hotel guest experience for all future stays.

Once you identify trends in feedback, make appropriate changes and then tell guests the good news!

18. Make It Easier for Guests to Leave a Tip

Tipping has been a common practice in the hospitality industry for ages, but few customers carry cash today, making it difficult for guests to show their appreciation. (Data shows they also really want to reward good service.)

Digital tipping solutions that enable guests to easily tip hotel staff using their mobile devices and QR codes are an effective way to ensure staff compensation stays high without straining guests or the hotel’s bottom line. In fact, digital tipping has been shown to increase staff tips by up to five times.

Post-Stay

19. Stay In (Reasonable) Contact

Staying fresh in a guest’s mind can pay off down the line. But don’t overdo it. Timely, relevant communication helps you stay in touch in a way that feels intentional. Send updates for things like special offers, renovation updates or invites to past events they’ve attended

20. Build Loyalty With Special Offers

Speaking of special offers, sending offers your guest cares about can help generate loyalty. Tap into your guest data to determine who to send emails to and when Personal occasions, like birthdays or national holidays, could entice a customer back for round two. Take what you learned from feedback to generate guest profiles for each customer. These profiles could include guest preferences and demographic details that might help you deliver a more personalized stay.

Now It’s Your Turn: Get Creative & Enhance Your Hotel Guest Experience!

A positive guest experience is one of, if not the most, critical components of running a successful hotel or venue. It is what drives great online reviews and both new and repeat bookings. How you interact with customers at every stage of the cycle should be carefully crafted and managed to ensure a memorable stay from start to finish. Technology can be used to augment the guest experience, but improvements can also be made in a variety of ways, and forward-looking hotel operators should consider all of them.

Now is the time to get creative with your strategies. By applying the best practices and knowledge laid out above, every hotelier should be able to improve the guest experience, increase bookings and drive more revenue well into the future.

Learn How Canary Can Help Your Properties Thrive

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