Recently, StayNTouch, Travel Tripper, and TrustYou launched a new report that examines guest experience trends and their adoption in the hotel industry.
Following the release of the study, experts from these companies participated in a webinar that offered insights and advice in the following areas:
- How the guest experience impacts a hotelier’s business
- Discover which methods of communication lead to stronger guest satisfaction
- How to capture and utilize guest data to improve the guest experience
- Identify the different ways that hoteliers can take advantage of mobile technology
How does the guest experience impact all areas of a hotelier’s business?
For 25% of travelers, it takes just one bad experience to swear off a hotel brand and find an alternative. Moreover, disgruntled guests often share their bad experience with family, friends, and across review sites.
With the right technology in place, hotels can learn more about their guests’ preferences to avoid costly mistakes and provide the best service possible.
For instance, if a hotel offers a mobile check-in/check-out service, this provides a way for housekeeping to receive real-time notifications from the front desk regarding the room status. This service can increase room attendant productivity by 20% while eliminating 80% of calls made to the front office.
Astute hoteliers who utilize data to anticipate needs can also personalize the guest experience, leading to happier guests. In addition, a study by Qubit found that brands that create data-driven personalized experiences typically increase revenue between 6-10%, and can reduce acquisition costs by as much as 50%.
Preparation is everything
If your staff is prepared and aware of a guest’s basic needs, the check-in process and entire guest experience will run more smoothly. Yet when surveyed, just 25% of hotels said that they encourage their employees to be proactive with guests and learn as much about them as possible.
Therefore, hotel management team needs to give its employees more direction and resources to understand guests and meet their needs. In turn, this will lead to happier guests who are more likely to share positive reviews on the hotel.
Which methods of communication lead to stronger guest satisfaction?
Communicating with guests using the technology that they prefer is also paramount. In the digital age, travelers are less inclined to pick up the phone to contact the hotel. Yet 80% of hotels said that they still use phone as the primary form of communication.
Hotels need to change their heavy reliance on phone communication. Today, 73% of guests said that they prefer to communicate digitally with hotels. This is done most commonly by email, followed by communicating through the hotel website, and then by messaging.
Given that 78% of travelers visit a hotel website either “always” or “most of the time” before their stay, the hotel website has to make communication easy for them by having a clearly signposted ‘contact us’ page and providing the communication channels that guests prefer.
As you might expect, positive communication has a direct impact on guest satisfaction. Notably, guests that communicate with a hotel using messaging or social media channels report significantly higher satisfaction ratings. So if your hotel still relies primarily on phone and email, there’s a compelling reason to embrace new digital tools.
A multi-platform strategy
There are clear advantages to offering guests a wide variety of digital and traditional communication platforms. But this can also create a logistical challenge for the hotel: if a property uses one platform for email, another for webchat, and also communicates via a messaging app and SMS, it can be incredibly hard to manage guest requests.
A guest messaging platform solves this problem by pulling conversations from all sources into a single view. So if a guest emails a hotel prior to their stay, uses a messaging platform to communicate on-property, and then sends the hotel post-stay feedback via social media, each of these messages will be seen in a single feed as an ongoing conversation — accessible by every member of staff.
This makes it far easier for hotel employees to manage and quickly respond to guest requests, leading to an elevated level of customer service.
What are the different ways that hoteliers can take advantage of mobile technology?
Consumers rely on mobile to shop online and make purchases. So it’s not surprising that travelers want to use mobile to make requests and purchases before and during their hotel stay. Yet many hotels aren’t fully catering to this need.
In the StayNTouch guest experience assessment, over 68% of respondents recognize the need to establish or improve their use or adoption of mobile technology. If your hotel isn’t providing a seamless mobile experience, you’re not only undeserving your guests, but potentially missing out on revenue opportunities.
By introducing mobile into your operation, your guests will have more control over how they interact with your staff and experience their stay. In addition, providing guest-facing mobile technology provides more opportunities to push upsells and upgrades.
How mobile can drive more revenue
Modern life revolves around mobile, and Americans check their phone on average every 12 minutes. So by providing a mobile check-in journey, hotels can interact more frequently with guests to drive direct marketing and revenue.
For example, every mobile check-in can include a dynamic upgrade offer, such as custom add-ons and promotions. Email notifications can also be sent to guests during their stay to market a later stay for a small extra fee.
Mobile also capitalizes on the impulse buyer. At the time of reservation, a guest might have been looking for the best price for the night, but after a long flight, he or she can be easily lured by the offer of spending just a few more dollars to enjoy better accommodations..
How can hotels capture and utilize guest data to improve the guest experience?
It’s common to assume that the guest experience starts when the guest arrives at the hotel front desk. But in reality, it starts when they confirm their reservation. By collecting data as soon as a guest makes a booking, your hotel can better anticipate their needs when they arrive.
Many booking engines offer guests the option to customize their stay by answering specific questions, such as when they’re arriving, the purpose of their trips, what kind of pillow they prefer, and whether they require a gluten-free breakfast.
Despite the importance of this data-gathering process, 48% of hotels say they’re either missing out on untapped potential, or find collecting and using data a challenge. Yet the benefits are substantial.
When you learn more about your guests during the booking process, you can personalize their experience and open the door for future communication and relevant upsells before they arrive.
The importance of guest reviews
Once you’ve wowed your guest with a great experience, it’s time to reach out and encourage them to leave your hotel a glowing review. A huge 95% of travelers read reviews before making a booking decision, and a hotel’s average review score is the most important factor in making a booking decision after price.
In particular, great TripAdvisor reviews are worth their weight in gold. In addition to influencing booking decisions, TripAdvisor can also drive direct bookings by allowing users to click links to the hotel website.
Remember, your hotel’s TripAdvisor page serves as an extension of your hotel’s website. Potential guests are reading reviews and learning more about your property on this page, so the more quality TripAdvisor reviews you can nurture the better.
How to turn your guests into regulars
After receiving a sparkling review, how can you incentivize guests to rebook? One way is by creating a members-only loyalty program and making it available on your booking engine or at check in.
A unique loyalty program can provide special rate plans with specific discounts, or extra perks, such as late check-out, early check-in, or on-property credits for hotel services
Companies like Hilton display the rate that potential Honors participants could receive during the booking process. This serves as a powerful conversion trigger by showing guests what they’re missing out if they don’t sign up.
How to bridge the guest experience gap
Based on the key findings from the report, it’s clear that hotels need to invest in a wider variety of check-in and service options to cater to varying guest preferences. From high touch service to self-serve, guests want to be in control of their stay.
As more and more guests look to interact via mobile and social channels, hotels must embrace mobile technology at every touch point. Technology should also be leveraged to identify the preferred communication streams of each guest.
Most hotels surveyed in the study admit that they still need to improve the ways in which they capture and utilize guest data. With cloud-based software, hotels can receive centralized overviews of operations, bookings, trends, revenue and guest information anytime, anywhere. In turn, this data can empower hoteliers to grow their business and keep guests coming back.