Industry Update
Opinion Article24 April 2018

How to Create a Competitive Advantage with Guest Experience Management

By Lindsay Sykes, Director of Marketing, Intouch Insight

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The wide range of technologies that hotels rely on means there's now more data collected about guests than ever. From the time of booking to long after the guest has left the property, customer experience data is being gathered.

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This data provides an unprecedented level of insight into guests' behaviors, habits, and needs, and more importantly, offers hotels a way to create a competitive advantage by delivering a more personalized guest experience.

To gain this advantage in an industry with intense competition, hotels need to be able to unlock the profusion of data and put it into action with innovative guest-centric enhancements across the organization through the use of technology.

Here are three ways to make guest experience management an essential part of your operations:

#1. Integrating Guest Data into a Single View

Hotels collect guest data from multiple sources including purchases, interactions, observations, and guest satisfaction surveys. For guest experience management to be impactful, the organization needs to utilize a platform that integrates these inputs into a single holistic view, such as their CRM, ERP, marketing automation, and POS systems. Without full integration between all relevant business systems, data remains siloed making it impossible to fully understand and proactively design a personalized guest experience.

For example, if a family visits a resort for a week, there are countless data points starting long before the time of booking when researching destinations, to what they do while at the resort, to their guest survey when they get home. Each touchpoint provides intelligence on how to serve that type of guest and enhance their experience. Third party data sources such as TripAdvisor reviews can have an enormous impact on brand perception and consumer decisions. In fact, increasing your TripAdvisor score by 1 star can result in an 11% increase in revenue

By integrating all data into a holistic view, organizations can identify patterns, and behaviors, and have insight into the guest experience touchpoints that need improvement as to better serve those customers (and others like them). With that data, customized booking specials could be offered, personalized promotions created, and new services or programs offered — all of which help to enhance guest loyalty and support a brilliant guest experience.

#2. Closing the Loop Between Guests and Employees

The concept of guest experience management isn't new, yet many times it feels like a program within the organization and not a culture that everyone — in all roles across the organization — lives and breathes.

Many times, this is the result of a lack of process or access to the required information. Frontline staff dealing with customers may not be empowered to make much-needed decisions in the moment. Guest experience management needs to address this issue by creating a closed-loop approach where authority on decision making is clear, and allowances are well understood so that issues are mitigated and resolved quickly.

The goal of closing the loop between customers and employees should be to provide frontline staff with the context of the situation at hand and equip them with what they need to take informed actions. With this approach, problems are resolved faster, and by closing the loop, it's confirmed that the problem has been solved to the level of expectation set by the organization's leaders.

To be truly competitive, no hotel can afford to leave customer concerns unaddressed, and by recovering unhappy guests, there's the opportunity to build strong brand ambassadors.

#3. Mapping and Managing the Guest Journey

With guest experience, understanding the guest journey and what happens at each touchpoint provides a way to identify sources of delight and despair for guests.

Guest experience management should be used to identify and act on issues so they can be resolved before they start. By mapping the guest journey at scale, problematic patterns can be recognized and that data turned into action. The ultimate goal isn't to address guest experience issues before they happen but to prevent them from happening at all.

With the right technology, it is also possible to watch the impact of actions being taken to improve the guest experience in real-time, and have the tools to adjust on the fly to correct them before a customer becomes unhappy.

This proactive approach also enables the hotel to pinpoint sources of delight for guests, as that's what results in long-term loyalty, five-star reviews, and guests sharing that experience with friends and family.

A competitive guest experience today lies beyond the collection of customer satisfaction data, and in operationalizing the actionable insight that can be extracted from the data for positive change across the organization and personalized guest experiences. This focus on the customer offers the most compelling way to create a competitive advantage today, but can only be unlocked by having the right customer experience management platform and discipline in place to realize its full potential.

Lindsay Sykes is the Director of Marketing at Intouch Insight. To get more actionable strategies on how to best prove the ROI of your hotel CX program, sign up to get your free copy of the Customer Experience Playbook: Designing a Winning Approach whitepaper.

Lindsay Sykes

Lindsay Sykes is the Director of Marketing at Intouch Insight. To get more actionable strategies on how to improve your guest experience with employee feedback and other CX strategies, sign up now to get your free copy of the Customer Experience Playbook: Designing a Winning Approach Whitepaper.

    More from Lindsay Sykes

    Intouch Insight offers a complete portfolio of customer experience management (CEM) products and solutions that help global brands delight their customers, strengthen brand reputation and improve financial performance. Intouch helps clients collect and centralize data from multiple customer touch points, and gives them actionable insights to identify, sense and continuously improve customer experience efforts in real-time. Founded in 1992, Intouch is trusted by franchise and multi-location businesses for their customer survey, mystery shopping, mobile forms, operational and compliance audits, and event marketing automation solutions. For more information, visit intouchinsight.com.

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