As part of this year’s World Travel Market, digital travel news site Skift held a mini-forum on Hospitality Disruption. A number of interesting issues were discussed and you can read about them here, but the one that caught my eye was “Hotels Need to Deepen Interaction with Guests”.
This point stood out because, although it is a very simple thing to get right, the vast majority of hotels get it totally wrong and, other than check-in, hardly interact with guests at all. Guest interaction has numerous benefits, in particular enhancing the guest experience, increasing guest loyalty, and generating lots of tasty data on guest behaviour. Here are 5 very simple ways hotels can improve guest interaction.
Send a Pre-Stay Email
Yes, good old email. Amidst all the talk of apps and chatbots, email often gets overlooked, but we all still use it, and getting in touch with your guests before their stay is a great way to get to know them, to show that you care, to find out about their preferences, and even to generate some extra revenue by offering upgrades or additional services. It’s such a simple thing, yet few hotels bother with it – in all my years of staying in hotels, I’ve had one, yes ONE, pre-stay message.
However you choose to do it – via the guest’s own device or via in-room technology – putting your hotel’s services on a mobile device has three benefits: guests like it, because it’s often easier than making a phone call and helps avoid language issues, and it’s easier than going to a concierge or tour desk; staff like it, as they have a digital record of the guest’s request and, again, language issues are avoided; and you get a digital trail of your guest’s in-house activity – what meals they’ve ordered, how much they spent in the bar or spa, what information they looked up, what tours they’ve booked and so on.
If building your own app is too time-consuming and expensive, there are plenty of good off-the-shelf products out there, such as Hoteza.
Get Feedback During the Stay
Most hotels take one of three approaches to getting guest feedback: they expect the guest to fill in a paper form which their staff then have to decipher and enter into a spreadsheet (yes, in 2016, many hotels still do this); they send out a post-stay questionnaire by email; or they do nothing.
As I wrote earlier this year (Hotels Can’t Get No Guest Satisfaction, April 2016), of the above options, email is the most productive, with an average 15% response rate – meaning in most hotels, over 85% of guests go un-surveyed! Pretty pathetic. Doing surveys during the guest’s stay, or at the moment of checkout (using a solution such as USay), takes this figure up & above 80%, and allows you to address problems or difficult guests before they get out of control and start to appear on Tripadvisor.
Send a Post-Stay Email
Like the pre-stay email, a post-stay email is extremely quick and easy to do (any good hotel booking engine or PMS solution should be able to automate the process) and it’s a great way to follow up the guest’s stay, show that you care, elicit more detailed feedback, sign guests up to your loyalty programme, and offer them a discount on their next stay. Again, very few hotels bother to do this which is utterly baffling.
Integrate Your Systems
A good guest CRM is the heart of any hotel’s sales & marketing engine, but does it speak to your other systems? You need to be pulling in guest activity data from your PMS, booking engine, POS (in your F&B outlets, spa, shops, tour desk etc), mobile concierge app, and any other solutions you may be using. The growth of cloud technology means hotels no longer have any excuse for not getting a 360 view of guest behaviour, and even if you’re still using legacy systems, there are plenty of analytics solutions that can crunch all the data.
So that’s 5 ways to improve the way your property interacts with guests, 3 of which can be put into place right now. If you’re not deepening your guest relationships, you’re losing guests to savvier hotels. So what are you waiting for?
Representasia specialise in digital technology to help hotels enhance guest service, generate and analyse guest data, and increase revenues. To find out how we can help your property, email us on firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.represent.asia.