Guest experience is everything. It’s what ensures that your hotel will be remembered and a big part of whether a guest will return to stay with you again. The good news is, there are some really effective ways that you can enhance the experience that your guests have with your hotel. You don’t need to move mountains or necessarily even free up a large budget. All that needs to be done is building and making small adjustments to the offering that you already have—it is the small and clever changes that can go a long way.
Why is guest experience so important?
The experience that a guest has is massively important. It is the leading reason whether a guest will become a recurring guest or not. An experience starts from the very first touchpoint that a guest has with your hotel. Many think that it’s only the actual hotel visit that needs to be top-notch (which indeed it does) but so do other areas of the customer journey.
The guests' experience can be split into three simple groups: before, during and post-stay. Before, or pre-arrival, is everything you can do before the guest checks in. The second group, during, is what you can do while the guest is staying with you. The final group, post-stay is the steps you can take once the guest has left (and how to get them to come back again).
Before: Influencing the pre-arrival experience
1. Pre-arrival contact
In this modern age, guests have many ways in which they can get in touch with your hotel. They can make enquiries through your social media pages, contact you through your website, engage with your live chat or chatbot, send you an email or the most old-school is simply giving you a ring.
The best way to improve the first point of contact is through punctuality and consistency. Each of your channels needs to be monitored to ensure a great guest experience. Responses should be timely and the tone of voice should be helpful and consistent across all channels.
2. Great website functionality
The booking process needs to be easy and straightforward to ensure a great guest experience. This means that your website should be clear, modern, fast to load and easy to use. It should also be trouble-free when using it on a mobile. In 2021, eCommerce growth as a digital category was driven largely by mobile. In fact, eMarketer estimates that in 2021, mobile made up about 73% of all eCommerce sales.
The process of online booking needs to be frictionless and pleasant for your guests—both desktop and mobile websites need to work perfectly.
3. A personalised online experience
Guest experiences are grand when they’re personal. It’s the personal touch that means the most. It’s the small thing that the receptionist was able to arrange on short notice or being accommodating to early check-in.
The great thing about the modern age is that personal touches can be added even before the guest checks in. You can now make your website as unique and customised as you like. Personalisation means you can tailor your website to your guests needs to ensure a fantastic guest experience. A personalised website can represent your brand image best and allows you to gain a competitive edge over your competitors.
4. Help your guests plan their trip
Before arrival, your guests will be planning their trip and researching what they can do or see in your city. Be proactive and send them an email with local guides, blogs with hidden gems or other sightseeing options. Sharing insider tips is a great start to a successful relationship with guests.
Sending them information prior to their arrival also equips them with useful information about the city and can include bits on your hotel too. Including your hotel’s history page is a fun way of bringing culture and flair to your offering. You can also include extra services that your own hotel can help arrange. If your hotel has a spa or a gym facility, this is a great place and time to mention this.
During: Ensuring the best stay
5. Surprise and delight guests
There is nothing better than experiencing something magical that you weren’t expecting. Create a magical experience for all of your guests. It isn’t necessarily about the grand gestures here. Small gestures can mean the world to a guest having a lovely guest experience.
Look for opportunities in which you can delight your customers. This can be a spontaneous step in your hotel operation. If you have the budget for it, place a small chocolate on each guest’s pillowcase. Perhaps even support a local chocolate artisan in the area for this. Leave a note beside the chocolate outlining the story of the local artisan and include an excursion to visit this local entrepreneur in the trip booklet you sent them before they checked in. This will give them the feeling of already knowing something in the city and it will excite them.
If you know that someone is celebrating their birthday, have your pastry chef write a special message on the guest's cake. Don’t allow any idea to go to waste and no idea is too small to be special and can lead to a more memorable guest experience.
6. Focus on customer service & team training
It’s important that your entire team is well-trained to ensure a great customer experience. Each member of the team needs to be on the same page for there to be consistency in the guest experience.
Unfortunately, a guest experience can be tarnished within seconds. All it can take is one small slip-up or miscommunication that can leave a sour taste in a guest’s mouth. Of course, this is not always the case. Guests are forgiving and can oversee some things. The best bet is to continually train your staff and to have management on the premises that can step in when something goes wrong. Excellent customer service is crucial to a guest’s happy experience
7. Reward repeat guests
If you have guests that are loyal and have turned into brand fans, you should reward this.
You can offer discount charges/rates for guests you book with you multiple times in the year. Your hotel can include additional benefits for repeat guests. These can include a free massage every time they book with you, early access to the gym facility, more frequent room service or allowing them to join, with no charge, on a day trip that the hotel arranged for its guests.
They also don’t need to be grand gestures. A bunch of flowers in their room or a bottle of wine for them to enjoy on their first night with you makes a great touch.
After: Making it memorable and getting returning guests
8. Collect reviews & be responsive to feedback
Implementing and incorporating clever ideas to improve your guest experience is one thing. Listening to your guests when they give you critical feedback is another. They are both equally important.
The best way to improve a guest’s experience is by knowing what to improve on. Take advantage of any review or feedback left with you and see it as an opportunity to do better. This can either be done in the form of a sheet that they fill in at the hotel, an email you send out to them once they have left or a review left on a platform like ‘Google Reviews’.
By asking guests to leave reviews you show them that their thoughts and their opinions are important to you. By knowing what they truly think, you will be able to know exactly which areas of your offering you need to improve on. It doesn’t help if a guest points something out that they did not enjoy. They come back to visit in a few months and see that nothing has been fixed/changed. It is important to be proactive and responsive to feedback.
9. Send a ‘Thank you’ email
A lovely finishing touch that you can share with your guests is sending them a ‘Thank you for staying with us’ email. There is nothing better than leaving a hotel and receiving a note saying that they enjoyed having you as a guest and that they look forward to seeing you again in the future.
It’s easy to set up, thoughtful in its approach, uncomplicated in the setup and will reap many benefits. This email can also include upcoming specials that you will offer and allow the guest to already picture their next trip with your hotel. It plants a lovely seed in their mind to book with you again next time.
All in all, creating a special guest experience is what it is all about. The way you go about doing that will depend on your team size, your budget, your flexibility and the offering you have. We encourage taking the time to brainstorm some ideas with your team and would be overjoyed if you used some of ours to improve your guests' experience.
For more information on how to improve your online guest experience, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.