Editor’s note: This is part of a three-part series in partnership with Zingle and was written by guest blogger Tony Flores, Director of Growth Marketing at Zingle. If you’d like to know more about creating a better guest experience, check out our upcoming webinar, Turn Your Data Into an Amazing Guest Experience.
From the moment your guests’ walk through the door, they are considering their own experience:
“How was I greeted?”
“That took too long.”
“What a pleasant surprise!”
Hoteliers who orchestrate authentic, individualized experiences for their guests will have a decisive advantage over those who implement “one-size-fits-all” programs designed to generate brand loyalty using only discounts and giveaways. Why? Because it is the unique experiences that influence your guests’ future decisions to review, return, and refer after their trip is over.
The key to personalization at scale is data collection, organization, and activation. From before arrival to after checkout, your guests are regularly communicating with your property, whether it be through staff or your various web and mobile channels. They are communicating their preferences, their family information, and the purpose of their trip. This information is often used to conduct the next transaction, address the next guest request, or send the next promotional email, but when collected over time and organized to create intelligent guest segments, hoteliers lay the foundation needed to create authentic guest experiences at scale (and even anticipate their guests’ needs before they ever communicate them).
The following mid-stay guest engagement strategies can help you drive your property’s long-term growth in RevPAR, ancillary revenue, and guest satisfaction:
1. Meet your guests’ pre-arrival expectations
If you’re following the tips outlined in part one of this series, there is a good chance your future guests are engaging with your offers, confirming their information, and letting you know their preferences prior to arriving. Failing to meet these expectations could set the tone for a negative experience, and will impact your guests’ sentiment when writing online reviews and when considering your property for their next getaway. On the other hand, meeting your guests’ expectations for personalized engagement when they first walk through the door will kickstart a positive experience that has the potential to earn your hotel repeat visits, referrals, and good online reviews.
Example tactic: Not every experience needs to be “remarkable” to show your guests that they’re voices are heard and acknowledged. Training your staff to confirm pre-arrival details during check-in will give your guests the opportunity to make last minute changes and demonstrate to your guests that their information is received and considered before they walked through the door.
2. Segment intelligently
Guests will have varying expectations for their stay, depending on the context of their trip. Some guests might be business travelers, some families from across the country, and others DINK (dual income, no kids) couples wanting to get away somewhere local for the weekend. A generic approach to guest engagement is better than nothing, but guests today are hungry for more personalized experiences and are willing to pay a premium for it. In order to deliver, properties need to enforce proper data collection processes that make it easier for your frontline to access and utilize this information when engaging with guests.
Example tactic: Your property has lots of experiences – like the pool, bar, spa, and restaurant – with which you want your guests to engage. When promoting various offers and opportunities to your guests, knowing whether or not they are on a family vacation or an anniversary is the difference between “join us tonight at happy hour for a complimentary glass of champagne” and “kids under 12 eat free at the restaurant before 8 PM on Saturday.”
3. Use existing guest data to anticipate the needs of new guests
Proper guest segmenting – based on their personal preferences, reasons for visiting, and past experiences with your property – provides a wealth of information that can be used to predict guest preferences before they ever engage with your marketing or staff. This is often easier said than done, however, as adherence to a data collection processes and consistent use of technology by staff is required. Tools like Revinate and Zingle allow hotels to leverage new and existing guests data to create brand-differentiated service experiences that also encourage operational efficiency.
Example tactic: Have 34% of your guests traveling with 2 or more children over the past 12-months requested additional pillows? Placing extra pillows with a list of child-friendly activities at the foot of the bed to greet your guests would not only delight in the moment but be top-of-mind when it comes time for Mom and Dad to leave a review online, or tell their friends about the experience your property provided for their family.
4. Prioritize service recovery
Research by ReviewPro suggests that guests who go through a negative service experience that is corrected by management are 7.75% more satisfied than guests who do not report a problem during their stay (whether or not they actually experienced a problem in the first place). The key here is proactiveness; unhappy customers rarely tell businesses about what happened but are likely to tell 10 or more of their friends. Your guest engagement strategy needs to include relevant and timely opportunities for guests to voice their desires and grievances, and those voices need to be heard and prioritized by hotel staff.
Example tactic: Send follow-up messages after service requests like room-service and early check-out. These confirm with the guest that the request has been addressed and can invite guests to provide real-time feedback regarding the experience. Making it simple for guests to provide feedback increases the amount of total feedback you will receive – good and bad – and will reveal more opportunities to recover poor experiences and capitalize on good ones with review requests and future promotions.
5. Create a seamless and enjoyable checkout process
When it comes to checking in and checking out, speed is key. And while a quick and efficient check-in process may set the stage for a great stay, failing to do the same for your guests’ check-out experience could leave visitors with a final impression that negatively impacts future online reviews and decisions to review / refer. Review volume and quality play a major role in your property’s online reputation and organic reach, so ensuring a positive experience from check-in all the way to check-out is vital.
Example tactic: Allowing your guests to check out from their room is great, but what about those who have a car in valet, or need help bringing their bags down? Connecting the in-room / mobile checkout option with the other services that contribute to a positive checkout experience will increase the amount these services are utilized.
Learn more about creating a better guest experience in our upcoming webinar, Turn Your Data Into an Amazing Guest Experience.