Continuously enhancing your hotel guest experience can go a long way in boosting your hotel's brand image and reputation. If guests enjoy their stay at your hotel, they are more likely to return and refer your hotel to others, helping you attract even more guests.
After all, word-of-mouth marketing is the most influential in driving buying decisions today. In fact, 77% of consumers often read online reviews when making purchase decisions and 49% trust online reviews as much as recommendations from family and friends. So positive reviews are crucial to your hotel's success. They pave the way for more bookings, higher occupancy rates, and greater revenue.
This article will tell you how to have a more guest-centric approach and enhance your hotel's guest experience.
What is the guest experience in the hospitality industry?
The guest experience focuses on the relationship between your hotel and its guests. It includes every interaction or communication with your guests, whether direct or indirect, even if it doesn't result in a booking. A smooth experience impacts how your guests feel about your hotel and services and how they engage with it in the future.
You should think of how you will provide a perfect experience at every stage of the guest's stay, from pre-arrival to post-stay.
Why is it important to enhance the guest experience?
Delivering a memorable experience allows you to leave a lasting impression. Some of the most important reasons for enhancing the guest experience include:
- Facilitating word-of-mouth marketing: By leaving a positive impression on your guests, your hotel can generate more guest reviews helping you grow faster.
- Building your hotel brand: If guests leave positive reviews online, it creates a solid brand image and further drives bookings and revenue.
- Strengthening your guest retention: By meeting your guests’ expectations and providing top-notch customer service, you can increase the number of repeat guests and boost customer loyalty.
Prioritising consumer experience will help you achieve an increase in hotel sales and revenue. That said, enhancing the guest experience is easier said than done.
It's crucial to deliver a seamless experience from when your guests book their stay to when they leave your hotel. It is a continual process. Here are some of our recommendations to take your guest experience to the next level.
Enhancing the hotel guest experience prior to arrival
1. Create your guest profile
Before you determine how to cater to your guests, you need to know who they are and what they like. Researching your target audience and developing guest profiles is a good way to offer brilliant service to every guest. It is important to research your target audience beforehand to understand how to personalise their experience. This allows you to create segments for the different types of guests visiting your hotel and tailor their experience.
The more you can personalise their stay, the more appreciated and welcome your guests will feel. Every personalised interaction will elevate your hotel in the eyes of your guests. Sharing their preferences across departments can ensure better coordination and a phenomenal experience.
2. Establish a smooth booking process
Do you leverage a business website to drive direct bookings? If so, make sure it is fully set up to provide a seamless booking experience from start to finish. These are the elements that your business website should contain to make a booking process straightforward and stress-free:
- Comprehensive information about your hotel including your room types, hotel amenities and services.
- High-quality photos and videos featuring your hotel rooms, lobbies and nearby attractions. To impress your guests from the get-go and immerse them fully in the atmosphere of your hotel, consider creating a VR tour. The recent research from Skift and Oracle revealed that guests would appreciate an opportunity to explore the hotel virtually before making a booking.
- A booking engine to capture and process bookings — must be integrated with your PMS.
- Different contact options for different types of guests — from email and phone numbers for an older audience to a chatbot and messengers for younger guests.
- Online payment options so guests can pay directly to your hotel
- Your current promotions and special seasonal offers to make stays at your hotel even more appealing.
3. Contact your guests before their arrival
Having a detailed pre-arrival plan can make the arrival and check-in process far smoother for your guests. This could include an email explaining what to expect during the check-in process and what's new at the hotel.
You should also send a confirmation email and reservation voucher immediately after your guests book a stay with you. Be sure to include information about your hotel's amenities and services. This is the first interaction you have with guests, so pay attention to detail.
Pre-arrival communication can include personalised messages and up-to-date information about ongoing promotions, packages, and events. Finally, be sure to touch base in the days leading up to their arrival.
4. Let your guests customise their stay in advance
Give your guests the opportunity to tailor their stay to their needs in advance. Rather than guessing what packages they prefer, you could allow your guests to choose how they want to customise their stay. This way, you can leverage the power of upselling early on in the journey.
You may think upselling should be left to the moment your guests arrive at the hotel. But, our research suggests that front-desk upselling is less successful than pre-arrival upselling. When a targeted offer is sent after booking, the conversion rate is 8.23% higher. Find out more about the best upselling times for different types of guests by downloading this brief guide.
We also noticed that emails sent 12 days before a guest is due to check in will result in the highest click-through rate of 48% and a conversion rate of 10.6%. So, start upselling through Oaky and let your guests decide how they want to enhance their own experience.
5. Make it easy for your guests to reach out to you
On-time communication is a significant aspect of the great guest experience. Be mindful about providing different contact options depending on your guest profiles. If the majority of your guests are older, be sure to set up a landline number so that they can reach out to your front desk.
If they are younger, consider investing in an online communication system like a chatbot and mobile app. This adds to more personalised interactions and will keep guests well-connected with your team.
Enhancing the guest experience on arrival
6. Ensure a smooth check-in process
Having to wait in the hotel lobby after a long journey won’t contribute to a positive guest experience. So aim to make the check-in process as hassle-free and efficient as possible. New tech developments allow you to provide your guests with the opportunity to self-check in. For instance, Mews, a property management system and one of the leading hotel software solutions on the market, can assist you in establishing an automated check-in process and digitise your guest’s stay till they check out.
7. Be polite and greet each guest by name
The check-in process provides the first opportunity for your guests to interact with the personification of your hotel: your staff. Something as simple as greeting your guests with a smile, and addressing them by name, can leave a positive image in their heads.
After a long day of travelling, guests may be tired and irritable, so don't hold back from going the extra mile for them. The check-in experience can set the tone of their stay, so make sure your staff is friendly and well-prepared for each guest's arrival.
8. Provide local recommendations
One of the reasons that services like Airbnb and alternative rentals are so popular these days is that they also equip visitors with localised recommendations for food, attractions, and hidden gems in the area. There is no reason why you can't offer the same local suggestions on arrival.
For instance, consider having a welcome book waiting for guests in their room. It can include tips on the best places to eat, the most popular attractions, and underrated sites that you can't read about online. Make sure that your staff is also knowledgeable about the local areas and can answer questions and share directions if needed.
Enhancing the guest experience during the stay
9. Celebrate special occasions
It's good practice to know the purpose of your guests' visit in advance for you to prepare for their stay. If there are any special occasions your guests are celebrating, it would be nice to arrange something that could make their day even more special.
For example, if they're visiting to celebrate an anniversary weekend, you could set up their room to include decorations that fit the occasion. You could also arrange special offers and gift vouchers for a dinner date at your hotel's restaurant.
Irrespective of the occasion, the most common complementary gifts are a voucher to an in-house or nearby establishment, a bottle of wine/champagne, cake, or petals on their bed. Make sure to include a handwritten card from the front desk to add a personalised touch to the gift.
10. Ensure cleanliness (but let your guests opt out of housekeeping)
Cleanliness is a must for every hotel, and it’s not news that it can make or break your guests’ impression of your hotel. However, as guests are growing more eco-conscious, offering the possibility to opt in or opt out of daily housekeeping is quickly becoming a new trend.
If your hotel has embarked on the sustainability journey, incentivise your guests to skip housekeeping by offering a treat at a bar or a perk in return. In most cases, guests will appreciate the opportunity to choose how they want to go about housekeeping.
That said, don’t skip your pre-arrival housekeeping — your guests should find their hotel room pristine and free of odours or signs of past guests.
11. Listen to your guests and address any complaints
Most often, guests don't want to be confrontational about their issues. If they do complain, listen carefully and be empathetic. At the end of the day, their feedback will help you improve your hotel operations and room services down the line.
Instruct your staff to listen to the guests' complaints and act. When receiving a complaint, your staff should be polite, apologise for any shortcomings, act upon the matter if possible, and notify upper management to ensure an effective resolution. It is important to take into account all customer feedback when thinking of improving your guest experience.
You should treat each complaint on its own merit, regardless of how big, small, or prevalent the issue may be. The way you react to negative reviews also says a lot about your hotel and can go a long way in building a better brand image.
12. Provide discounts, freebies, and complementary services
A smart way to make your guests feel valued and cared for is by providing add-ons and freebies. These will have a positive impact on enriching your customer experience by creating emotional triggers that foster a positive relationship with each guest.
Again, pre-arrival upselling will come in handy to provide personalised services to each guest segment arriving at your hotel. For example, for a family with two kids, you could include some fun toys in the rooms and offer complimentary babysitting services to show you care for them. For guests celebrating an anniversary or honeymoon, you could offer a bottle of champagne or a romantic package, sharing in their joy and making their stay more delightful.
Enhancing the guest experience on departure
13. Ensure a simple check-out process
Checking out should be seamless and straightforward. Using a mobile app or advanced hotel tech tools can reduce check-out time. For instance, you could generate a daily departure list and prepare pending bills so that there are no last-minute delays. If a group of guests is checking out together, dividing/merging their accounts may take time, so try asking about their preferences and preparing their bills well in advance.
Offer an opportunity to also book a late check-out as this is one of the most seek-out amenities by guests.
14. Follow up with your guests for feedback
Encourage your guests to provide reviews on review platforms such as Google (for this, you will need to set up a Google My Business profile) and TripAdvisor and spread the good word on social media. Positive reviews will add to your brand image. However, be sure not to discount the negative ones, as they are your best source of learning. Devote enough time to respond to bad reviews and think about how you can go about improving your services.
You can also ask guests to fill out short feedback surveys. You can use their suggestions to understand your mistakes. Finally, make sure to send them a sweet thank-you note for choosing to stay at your hotel.
Enhancing the guest experience post-departure
15. Maintain post-stay communication
Be sure to leverage your relationship with your guests by staying in touch with them even after their stay is complete. Leaving guests with a strong positive impression encourages them to return. You can do so by keeping them in the loop about special offers.
You could also send out a monthly newsletter letting them know about all the latest developments in and around your hotel. This way, they have more incentive to visit or recommend your services to close ones.
How technology can help improve the hotel guest experience
Following these tips can ensure that your guests return for more and share their great experiences with others. It also boosts revenue and sets you apart from the competition. There are plenty of hotel tech tools that are designed to improve guest satisfaction and streamline operations for hoteliers.
Oaky is a hyper-personalised upselling software that helps hotels boost revenue through enriched guest experience and branding. Enabling hotels to leverage segmentation, personalisation, dynamic pricing and more, Oaky takes upselling services and upgrades to the next level, maximising the average spend per guest and taking the legwork out of the upselling process. Oaky has been recognised as the Best Upselling Software by Hotel Tech Report for 5 years in a row and is trusted by innovative hotels, groups and chains across the globe, including the ONYX Hospitality & Radisson Hotel Group.