Industry Update
Opinion Article25 September 2017

Improve Your Hotel’s Guest Engagement in 3 Steps

An Inherently Flawed Approach

By Russell Silver, Founder at Fetch

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Is engaging with your guests an art or a science? Most would argue it's an art because every guest has unique expectations. But every artist still needs their brush, palette, and canvas – and the hotelier is no different. Hotels need to strike the proper balance between the art and science of engagement, using the best tools at their disposal to produce results.

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In collaborating with hundreds of hotels to implement Fetch's 1-tap guest surveys, I discovered most establishments take an inherently flawed approach to guest communication. At a time when service and guest experience have never been more important to hospitality, this can be a critical mistake.

It is your job to uncover a guest's problems, not their job to report them. Shifting from a reactive mindset to a proactive approach separates great hotels from the rest. Advances in technology and automation have made it possible to arm your staff with the best tools for this task and prepare them for the worst. It's just like giving a painter access to the best brush, palette, and canvas on the market – there's a greater chance of improved results.

Proper guest engagement can help to avoid disasters and lead to improved overall experience, but most hotels are yet to catch up. We have found that hotels can 10x their response rates, drive better reviews, and increase bookings by identifying and understanding the short-comings of current strategies, then following these three steps.

1) Timing: Proactively engage guests every step of the way.

This is the biggest mistake we see; hotels are trying to communicate with guests far too late, or not at all. Only trying to survey a guest post-checkout results in problems going unresolved, and an overall eroded experience. But, not trying at all has far worse consequences. If a guest must go out of their way to report problems, they are less likely to communicate and perceived service levels are weakened.

They key to great engagement is to cover the entire guest journey, from booking to checkout, in a proactive manner. A special emphasis should be placed on mid-stay, when they guest is actually your guest. They are slowly forming their opinions on their experience from check-in to check-out, so communication during this stage is critical. Covering the entire journey ensures countless opportunities to proactively solve problems and ensure excellent service.

2) Intuitiveness: The simpler it is to participate, the better your results will be.

Hotels have made communication an incredible burden for guests. It often requires countless steps and lost time, resulting in interrupting their trip simply to get the levels of service they expected at the time of booking. Not to mention the confrontation they must face. Every additional step a guest must take to communicate makes them less likely to do so, resulting in silent guests which the hotel ends up paying for in the long-run.

The best results come from an intuitive system for the guest. It must be easy to begin and incredibly simple to complete. This is why the foundation of Fetch is a 1-tap guest survey – completed in a single tap, embedded into the body of the email – proactively sent to guests at key points in their journey.

More feedback presents a greater understanding of guest satisfaction, leading to increased opportunities to successfully deliver great experiences. That's what hospitality is all about.

3) Empowerment: Liberate your guests and inform your staff.

At today's standards, guests feel ignored and helpless, all while your staff are unable to help without the knowledge of an issue. This is a big problem.

Guests need an outlet to communicate with the hotel, requiring little to no effort, and be automatically prompted to do so without going out of their way. If staff are notified of these messages in real time, with any information necessary to react and resolve, they are able to do their jobs as effectively as possible. That's the future of guest engagement.

Overall, it comes down to three crucial steps:

  1. Timing: proactive end-to-end engagement
  2. Intuitiveness: simplicity gets results
  3. Empowerment: real-time open communication channels

After working with hundreds of hotels across five continents, we have identified these as the three key factors in shifting your property from a reactive to a proactive resort. Our 1-tap guest engagement surveys revolve entirely around these principles, and we would be happy to see if it's something that can help your hotel. When technological advances have led to a better paintbrush and canvas, it's time to stop finger-painting on the walls!

Russell Silver

Russell is a graduate from the Richard Ivey School of Business. He has a passion for entrepreneurship. After a semester abroad at Hong Kong's CUHK, Russell was admitted into Venture For Canada's inaugural fellow class. Here he developed and learned from hands-on experience and deep exposure into Canada's tech scene, and after some time at a start-up, he is now changing the way companies understand customers.

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