Why Hotels Should Master the Fundamentals of Guest Experience Before Adding the Bells and Whistles — Photo by Infor

NBA legend Michael Jordan is famous for his thrilling game style, but he didn’t get there without mastering the basics of the sport. As he famously said, “You can practice shooting eight hours a day, but if your technique is wrong, then all you become is very good at shooting the wrong way. Get the fundamentals down, and the level of everything you do will rise.”

The same can be said for the hospitality industry. Innovative features undoubtedly have the potential to elevate guest experiences to new heights. However, hotel executives aiming to close the experience gap must first lay a strong foundation by perfecting core operations. Concentrating on these essential elements ensures guest satisfaction and creates a stable infrastructure that supports further technological enhancements.

Many hotels channel significant resources into design aesthetics or advanced technologies to dazzle guests, yet these elements aren't as critical to the experience equation as often believed. Guest priorities? An overwhelming majority (80%) of American consumers cite speed, convenience, knowledgeable staff, and friendly service as vital for a positive brand experience. Speed, in particular, is even more crucial for guests outside the U.S. This can range from instant check-ins to immediate room service, with over 40% of respondents in PwC's Global Consumer Insights Survey willing to pay extra for it.

When it comes to frictionless service,, people often recognize the link between technology and guest experience only when tech fails, is slow, or disrupts the process. Guests look for elegantly designed, user-friendly websites, booking engines, and mobile apps, with automation simplifying the check-in process. But, these elements must be supported by technology to ensure speed, convenience, and adequately timed information to enhance the experience.

This means hoteliers should prioritize technologies that deliver these benefits rather than adopt new bells and whistles merely to stay on the cutting edge. It’s a tall order, but there are several strategies hoteliers can implement to deliver seamless guest experiences profitably. It's essential to improve not only the pieces the guests see but also everything behind the scenes.

Bridging the guest experience gap

When it comes to guest experiences, the margin for error is razor-thin. Could you imagine losing up to a third of your guests in one day due to a single bad experience? That’s precisely the risk you face. In the U.S., 59% of guests will not return after multiple bad experiences, and a significant 17% won't return after just one. Globally, 32% of all guests would abandon a beloved hotel after a single bad experience. In Latin America, this figure jumps to 49%.

On the other hand, meeting or exceeding guest expectations brings measurable business benefits, and the guest experience gap presents a golden opportunity. While price and quality remain paramount in lodging choices, positive experiences significantly influence booking decisions, especially in hospitality (74%). Across various industries, nearly half (48%) of U.S. consumers identify friendly, welcoming service as a hallmark of industry success.

This highlights the importance of creating a positive and memorable experience. By bridging this gap, where technology complements rather than complicates the human element of the guest experience, hotels can unlock new levels of guest satisfaction. Here are some other strategies for hoteliers to enhance this experience for their properties.

  • Invest in Modern, Unified Technology: Leveraging cutting-edge technology is essential for elevating the guest experience. Hoteliers should focus on adopting an integrated end-to-end cloud-based PMS that supports mobile applications, self-service check-in kiosks, and advanced in-room technologies. These innovations ensure guests' seamless and convenient journey, meeting their ever-evolving expectations.
  • Empower Your Workforce: The quality of service provided by staff plays a critical role in guest satisfaction. Hoteliers should prioritize comprehensive training programs and equip their teams with the necessary technology solutions. By cultivating a knowledgeable and capable workforce, hotels can effectively navigate challenging situations and enhance overall service quality.
  • Deliver Personalized Experiences: Personalization is key to creating memorable guest experiences. A unified hospitality management system like Infor can centralize guest profiles across brands, properties, and reservations, identify guest preferences, and customize their services by collecting and analyzing customer data. This approach could include bespoke recommendations, exclusive offers, and tailored guest services, all aimed at exceeding guest expectations.
  • Create Emotional Connections: Building emotional rapport with guests is crucial for delivering a standout customer experience. Hoteliers should focus on nurturing relationships by making each guest feel valued and appreciated. Personal touches like customized notes, thoughtful surprises, and individualized communication can significantly enhance guest loyalty.
  • Proactively Manage and Respond to Feedback: Online reviews and social media wield considerable influence in today's digital age. Hoteliers must diligently monitor and address guest feedback. Prompt responses to reviews showcase a commitment to guest satisfaction, build trust, and foster long-term loyalty.

Master the fundamentals with the help of modern hotel technology, and the rest will naturally follow. To triumph in the guest experience race, align your experience goals and hotel systems with what truly matters to your guests. When guests feel appreciated, the tangible business benefits include enhanced guest loyalty and capturing a larger share of their spending.

About Infor

Infor is a global leader in business cloud software specialized by industry. We develop complete solutions for our focus industries. Infor's mission-critical enterprise applications and services are designed to deliver sustainable operational advantages with security and faster time to value. Over 60,000 organizations in more than 175 countries rely on Infor's 17,000 employees to help achieve their business goals. As a Koch company, our financial strength, ownership structure, and long-term view empower us to foster enduring, mutually beneficial relationships with our customers. Visit www.infor.com.

Aaron Stein
Global Head of Industry Marketing