Today's travellers are spoilt for choice. From countless price comparison options and discount rates for flights and hotels, to any form of local transport, including Uber, Lyft, or even the more traditional public transport or bike rentals. The choices are endless and ultimately result in the travel experience being different for every traveller - no two travellers are the same, and the experiences that they choose are just as unique.
For hoteliers, there are five key moments in the journey of their guests that are influential to the overall experience that they deliver - the moment of booking, the departure from their home, the arrival at the hotel, the check-out from the hotel and the moment of rebooking, if that ever occurs. However, most hoteliers deliver limited interactions with the guest between the moment of booking and the arrival at the hotel, aside from booking confirmation, which is often sent by the OTA.
Although guests may not specifically expect much interaction with the hotel until check-in, these relatively low expectations present a golden opportunity for hoteliers to exceed them and deliver an outstanding guest experience.
So what are some of the quick-wins that hoteliers can implement to impress their guests?
The easiest is simply communication. The vast majority of hoteliers fail to foster a meaningful relationship with guests during their journey, resulting in a relatively anonymous stay upon arrival.
Scheduling an automated email to let guests know that you're looking forward to welcoming them when they arrive along with some local recommendations of attractions and restaurants, already breaks the ice, and will make the guest feel more comfortable with their decision to stay at your hotel.
It gives them the information needed to enjoy more of the city while they are there - which results in a positive connection to your hotel.
Closer to arrival, take advantage of their excitement for the upcoming trip and allow the guest to tailor their experience through upselling opportunities, such as a room upgrade, spa reservation or maybe even the option to make their stay carbon neutral for the eco-friendly traveller. This not only helps improve guest satisfaction but also generates additional revenue to increase overall profits.
On the day of arrival, it is likely that guests will be tired from travelling, and the last thing they want is to queue for check-in. In cities and countries that require the collection of guest registration cards, which can lead to longer wait times at check-in, consider digitalising this process by making it available for guests to do during their travels; for instance, while waiting in the airport customs line or in the taxi to the hotel. This reduces human error resulting from illegible handwriting and also gives staff the ability to use the saved time to do what they do best - interact with guests.
It's clear that by making the most of the simple and effective opportunities present during the guest's journey, it is possible to deliver a more tailored experience and improve overall guest satisfaction. Combined with an effective online review management strategy, it's possible to have a significant improvement in the overall review scores on portals such as TripAdvisor, Booking.com and Google. By understanding that the guest experience starts when the reservation is made, hoteliers can take greater control of their online reputation and attract even more guests.