Today’s hotel guests and global travelers are better informed than ever before, with an estimated 95% of guests reading online reviews before they book their accommodation.
Additionally, the modern traveler is very communicative through various social channels, so building a strong online reputation has never been more important.
Online Travel Agencies (OTAs) have always been a significant source of reviews and information about hotels for travelers which can make a hotelier feel a bit at the mercy of these entities when it comes to guest acquisition, however; new hotel technology is helping hotels create personal connections to their guests and bringing some of that control back into the hands of the operators.
To help give you the upper hand, we’ve listed a few ways technology can be implemented that will encourage guest engagement, optimize customer loyalty and increase return visits.
Deloitte conducted a survey of more than 6,600 hotel guests who have collectively stayed at 25 brands across different hotel tiers to find out what makes a great hotel experience.
The results are outlined in their whitepaper, Next Gen Hotel Guests Have Checked In: The Changing Guest Experience. The results show that what guests want more than ever from their hotel is recognition of their previous patronage and appreciation of that business by providing a more personalized stay experience.
Deloitte’s survey also outlines how the landscape has shifted over the past few years. Hotel Guests were previously satisfied with basic qualities such as a clean room, good value, location, and a quiet atmosphere.
Now those qualities are what Deloitte terms “the new basics” – necessary and expected but not qualities that contribute to an exceptional guest experience.
But providing a “personalized stay experience” for every guest sounds a lot easier than it is. One challenge is that every guest will have a different idea of what constitutes “personalized service”. Some will expect to be greeted by name upon entering the hotel, whereas others define it as being able to just check-in to their rooms through an app. Taking this into account, it’s up to the hoteliers to gauge the level of personalization they feel would make the most sense for their guests.
SET A HUMAN / TECHNOLOGY BALANCE
Taking hospitality industry stats and trends into consideration, it’s clear that creating a personalized guest experience strategy is inherently necessary for today’s guests. But this also means balancing human interaction and technology-driven efforts.
According to SBE hotel’s Chief Information Officer, Peter Chambers, “the human touch is absolutely integral.” Part of this personalized experience is decidedly analog, focusing on staff training, food and beverage, designs and guest amenities. In other words, human-driven personalization is essential to the 360-degree experience.
IMPLEMENT TECH THAT’S CONVENIENT FOR ALL GUESTS
The one thing you can be sure of when it comes to technology it’s that it’s constantly evolving. One of the no-brainers is to upgrade your technology to better suit the fast-paced lifestyle of your millennial guests. However, It’s important to ensure that any hospitality tech upgrade you install at your hotel remains user-friendly for people and employees of all ages.
Tech upgrades should make your hotels feel like they’re benefiting from a perk, not struggling with a tech hurdle.
A perfect example of this is introducing mobile technology that allows guests to check-in, access their room and check out of the hotel using their smartphones such as OpenKey’s popular app (no more lost or forgotten key cards). Tech conveniences such as this save your guests valuable time and free up your staff to create a more enjoyable guest experience.
“To be successful, you need to make it easy for customers to learn about your mobile applications, and there’s no better time to educate customers and encourage them to participate with your brand than when they are standing in your lobby.” – SoftBank Robotics US.
Keep in mind that tech such as mobile apps aren’t only about automation and efficiency. When used correctly it can serve as a platform that creates feedback and review opportunities for hotels, which in turn helps secure guest loyalty and drive additional guests to your establishment.
Remember that guests are not just visiting your hotel for a room. You’re selling unique guest experiences from the moment they book a room, to the moment they leave. With the help of personal data and insights, hotels can deliver a personal touch for every guest that visits.
Most of these tips and insights are fairly easy to implement. And the bottom line is that higher levels of guest engagement translate into more repeat customers, increased customer loyalty, and more profit.