Building a strong level of guest loyalty starts by providing excellent service well before guests begin their stay. From the reservation process, to checking-in, to arriving at the hotel room itself, a guest’s initial impression of a hotel can greatly influence their perception of your hotel brand for the rest of their stay.
Even after a guest’s stay, their first experience can set the tone of subsequent online reviews and the decision of whether or not to return. Below, we’ve detailed a number of areas hotels can look to improve in order to provide guests’ with a positive first impression.
In a marketplace with countless online review and booking websites, potential guests often perform extensive research on multiple properties well before they decide where to stay. Ensuring that these sites contain accurate information about your hotels is very important as to not mislead or confuse guests. Make sure to frequently check the accuracy of your properties’ information on your website, OTAs, review sites, and other related websites.
With so many booking resources available online, hotels can take measures to stand out to guests initially and establish a positive impression during the research and booking phase. Include details that give guest confidence in picking your hotel listing over a competitor’s:
- High-quality photos of clean and well-decorated rooms
- Up-to-date property and room descriptions
- Positive guest reviews
- Available amenities
- Local attractions
Once a guest reserves a room, be sure to promptly send a confirmation email with everything they need to know before their stay. If executed correctly, the information in this email can answer guests’ questions before they even arise.
When guests arrive at the hotel, the expectations they formed during the booking process will be put to the test. The check-in experience will often set the tone for how guests perceive the rest of their visit. The exterior appearance of the hotel, the friendliness of the front desk agents, and even the speed of the check-in will all factor in on their first impressions of your hotel brand.
An inefficient check-in process leads to long lines which leads to tired and stressed guests. In fact, a recent study found that guest satisfaction drops by 50% if their wait takes longer than 5 minutes. Hotels can change the entire guest arrival experience by letting them check-in remotely with the OpenKey app and skip the lines at the front desk altogether.
OpenKey also enables hotels to offer guests mobile key access to their rooms. Guests won’t have to stop by the front desk to get their key, nor will they have to worry about carrying around a keycard or leaving it behind somewhere. This results in a much smoother guest experience. In fact, guest satisfaction scores improve by 7% on average when hotels offer mobile key access.
With the guest’s ability to check-in and access their room from their mobile device, your staff will have opportunities to focus on more impactful ways of improving the guest experience.
One of the first things guests notice when they arrive in their room is the level of cleanliness. If a hotel is dirty, cluttered, or smells strange, guest satisfaction will drop dramatically. This will almost guarantee that they will be looking elsewhere to stay the next time they travel.
Fresh towels and linens, clean bathrooms and bedrooms, even the cleanliness of the front lobby and hallways can all improve the guest experience and help them feel comfortable in those initial moments at your hotel.
Hotel properties should make overall cleanliness – from the parking lot to the lobby restrooms, as well as the guest rooms and amenities – one of their highest priorities. In a survey by P&G Professional, experts found that the number one cause of customer dissatisfaction or complaints was due to a lack of cleanliness or improper disinfection protocols.
In today’s technology-focused world, guests are no longer satisfied with a standard wall outlet, alarm clock, and TV set. Changing the art in the rooms might not be the only update needed when a hotel renovates.
Improving the speed and reliability of wifi, mobile key room access, in-room tablets, and other in-room technology can transform a frustrating or boring guest experience to a positive and engaging one.
One hotel that has taken a huge step toward innovation in improving the guest experience is the Renaissance New York Midtown. Known as New York’s ‘living building’, the hotel has created interactive hallways that respond to gestures. Guests are also able to place their room service requests, order hotel merchandise, and so much more from the comfort of their room – which also has interiors that change with the seasons.
When a guest arrives at a hotel and is able to engage with cutting-edge technology, their first impression of your overall hotel brand is likely to be of higher regard.
The true “make it or break it” aspect of your guest experience is your staff – and how efficient and experienced they were, or how frustrating interactions were with them. By being prompt, efficient, friendly, and helpful, your staff could take a potentially ugly situation and turn it around with their actions.
Understanding the growing preference for self-service and also the ever-present need to have a pleasant person-to-person experience is the challenge of today’s hotel industry. Implementing follow-up phone calls or emails after a guest books a room to find out what their needs will be during their stay is a way to improve the arrival experience well before they ever cross your threshold.
By anticipating a guest’s potential needs and being aware of the reason for their stay, staff will be able to better serve them upon arrival. For instance, business travelers will benefit from learning about available amenities like free wifi, bookable meeting rooms, and 24-hour room service to the business travelers, while having a knowledgeable concierge able to give excellent recommendations for dinner and nightlife will be appreciated by the casual vacation-goers.
While it’s imperative to be friendly and welcoming to all guests, catering to their individual needs gives hotels the opportunity to exceed guests’ baseline expectations and make a lasting first impression.
In order to stay relevant and competitive in this technological world, hotels are reconsidering every aspect of the services they offer to their guests. Providing a pleasant first impression is no longer as simple as a smiling face at the front desk. Through a clear booking process, staff training, property cleanliness, and innovative technology, hotels can better ensure they deliver a positive first impression to all guests.