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’ demands 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. It can be tricky, however, if you’re working with reduced teams or limited budgets. We’ve compiled a list of 19 easy-to-implement ideas to
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 always mean a perfect guest experience. 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 great review and a terrible one.
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 receptionist 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!
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.
And in this day and age, a few too many poor experiences — and reviews — could leave you far behind your competitors.
What’s more: 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.
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:
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!
1. Implement a Live Chatbot To Address Queries Quickly
Chatbots are a fantastic way to address 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 can negatively impact a guest’s experience and first impression of your hotel.
2. Make Sure Your Website Is 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.
Removing these common issues will delight guests and prevent frustration.
3. Refrain From Over-Promising
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, so that when guests arrive, they aren’t disappointed.
4. Ensure a Smooth Booking Experience
How fast and easy is your booking process? Much like the browsing experience, you need to ensure — for the sanity of the guest and the profits of your hotel — your booking experience is simple.
Prioritize the mobile booking experience, and ensure that every drop down and button works regularly.
5. Keep Guest Data Safe
Guest data has never been so sensitive. With high profile hotel companies suffering expensive data-breaches in the past few years, prioritizing security measures to guard your guests’ data is non-negotiable. 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.
6. Begin Communication a Week or Two Before Check-In
Timely, well-intentioned emails before check-in could go a long way with the right types of hotel guests.
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. Be Available for Any 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 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.
8. Congratulate Guests on Special Occasions & Provide Added Value
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 (i.e. “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. Offer Contactless Online Check-In
After a long, tiring journey, guests don’t want to stand around in queues and 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.
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 employees 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.
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.
What’s more — with Canary, no app downloads are required to send and receive text messages using your hotel’s existing landline. Once you receive a complaint, deal with it as quickly and professionally as possible.
12. Be as Sustainable as You Can Afford
Sustainability in hospitality is a hot topic, set to grow even hotter in the coming years and guests are increasingly making choices with this in mind.
You may not need to install expensive solar panels or living walls to enhance the guest experience quite yet. But it is important to find ways to practice and market your sustainability while staying within budget. Recycling or reducing waste, composting or donating are all great ways to do your part.
Modern hotel management software, like kind found in Canary's platform, can significantly help reduce wasted paper by replacing paper and PDF credit card authorizations forms with a secure online alternative.
13. Partner With Local Businesses
It’s within your interests to ensure your guests have the best vacation possible. 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 guests stay the best it can be.
14. 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 will impress your guests.
15. Offer Contactless Checkout
A quick and painless checkout could just be the cherry 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.
This is your opportunity to let the customer know that you’re always on a mission to improve. And while it might not have a big impact on the quality of their stay, knowing areas of opportunity help you enhance the hotel guest experience for future stays.
Once you identify trends in feedback, make appropriate changes and be sure to let guests on your mailing lists know the good news!
17. Stay In Contact, But Don’t Overdo It
Staying fresh in a guest’s mind is a balancing act, but one that pays off. Timely emails that include things such as offers, renovation updates or other useful resources, are always welcome.
Don’t, however, overdo the emails or you’ll find yourself losing subscribers.
18. Build Loyalty With Special Offers
Once a guest has checked out, this is your opportunity to turn them into a repeat customer. Much like timely emails, special offers around personal occasions, like birthdays, or national holidays could entice a customer back for round two.
Improving your hotel guest experience has multiple benefits; from generating business through word-of-mouth to excellent online reviews.
By thinking of the experience as a cycle, continually getting to know your different types of guests, staying up-to-date with trends, and finding new and creative ways to add value, you’ll stand the best chance possible at giving guests an unforgettable experience.
Use the ideas above to not only win new business, but earn repeat, loyal customers who return to you because you’re consistent in your excellence.
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