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Communication techniques to enhance the guest experience
Hotels are frequently told how the latest tech tool will improve the guest experience. A lot of these gadgets have real value, but arguably, the easiest and cheapest way to enhance the experience is to have better communication with your guests.
From the time a person makes a booking through to the end of the stay and beyond, there are numerous engagement points where you can start a conversation. Simple pre-stay emails, asking about personal preferences on arrival, and periodically checking guests are happy during their stay all play their part.
In the following post, we’ll dive deeper into these topics and provide examples of how your hotel can improve its entire guest communication strategy.
Anticipate guest needs before they arrive
When a guest arrives at your hotel, it’s important to be prepared. Knowing what they might need and want in advance can make a world of difference to their experience with you.
For instance, a lot of young parents will appreciate certain amenities and services, such as a baby crib and babysitting services. If that family arrives with a screaming infant at 10 pm, the last thing they want is a long wait for you to set up a crib. By simply checking their needs in advance, situations like this don’t need to happen.
As another example, a lot of business travelers staying at a hotel spend their time networking and rushing off to meetings. By acquiring pre-stay information, you can discover specific ways to make their life easier. That might involve arranging transport to their meetings, booking a restaurant near their first appointment, or recommending work-friendly cafes in the nearby area.
By sending out pre-stay emails or questionnaires using hotel-specific survey tools, you can learn what your guests need in order to super-serve them. To help with this, Travel Tripper offers a built-in guest questionnaire that you can employ during the booking process, as well as member profiles that enable guests to log in to an account that already has many of their preferences saved. At a glance, hotels can check this resource to preempt, rather than hastily react, to all of their guests’ changing needs.
Find out why they are coming
Every guest has their own reason for booking with you. For some, it might be their annual vacation. But for others, it could be for a significant event, such as a birthday, graduation, wedding anniversary, or a big family reunion. The point is, the guest picked your hotel to celebrate an important occasion, so you really want to make sure they have a great time with you.
Again, pre-stay questionnaires can be used to reveal why a guest booked with you and understand how to tailor your service accordingly. At the very least, knowing someone is celebrating an event means you can congratulate them on arrival, and ask if there’s anything extra they need to make their stay more enjoyable.
These kind of bookings are also a great chance to surprise and delight. You could send a card and balloons to a guest’s room before they arrive, treat them to a complimentary bottle of Champagne with their evening meal, or offer them a room upgrade.
Big or small, unexpected gestures can make a huge difference to how people feel about your property. And it all starts with finding out why they chose to book with you in the first place.
Monitor guest satisfaction throughout their stay
The easy thing to do as a hotelier is assume your guests are having a good time, unless you hear otherwise. But sometimes, you won’t know anything was wrong until you read their disgruntled TripAdvisor review. Or you might simply miss an opportunity to turn a contented guest into one that raves about their experience with you.
Far from making life harder, periodically checking your guests are satisfied is a great way to manage your reputation and enhance your service. It shows you’re dedicated to offering the best experience possible. That you don’t shirk opportunities to help, you actively seek them out.
You don’t want to appear intrusive, but a few well-timed queries can help you get feedback on a specific amenity, or a sense of overall satisfaction levels. That might involve a phone call to the room after a guest settles in to check they have everything they need. Asking if they enjoyed a recent sightseeing tour, an evening meal in town, or a spa treatment at your hotel also represent key engagement points to communicate with guests in a natural, non-invasive way.
By communicating with your guests prior to arrival, during their stay, and after they check out (through digital tools or in-person communication), you can guarantee a positive experience without having to invest in fancy trends.
Leave them with a smile
Everyone talks about making a great first impression. But creating a great last impression rarely gets the same attention. The science says this is a mistake.
A psychological heuristic known as the peak–end rule describes how people make judgements based on the peak (or most intense) and the end of an event or activity. So if 99% of a person’s time with you was positive, but the last 1% was negative, that final encounter will define much of their perceived experience.
Potentially, you can end up undoing a lot of your hard work by turning check-out into a rushed and impersonal procedure. In contrast, ensuring guests leave with a smile can have a disproportionately positive impact.
Simple things such as acknowledging a guest by name, thanking them for their custom, and offering to call a taxi to the airport are easy to do but often forgotten by hectic front desks. To go the extra mile, you could offer to double-check their flight information, or provide information on potential traffic delays and weather conditions that might affect their journey.
The end experience is arguably just as vital as the first one. Rather than viewing the check-out process as a transaction, consider it a major opportunity to leave your customers with a great last impression.
Communication is key
In the hospitality industry, technology is often heralded as a fix-all solution for enhancing the guest experience. Yes, it has its place. But it needs to be treated as a way to complement, not replace, good old-fashioned communication.
By sending pre-stay emails, you can build rapport and discover preferences before a guest arrives. During the stay, a polite inquiry at appropriate points is an easy way to check they’re happy, make them feel valued, and find ways to improve their experience if needed.
After check out, it’s important to remember that the relationship continues. Keep in touch using post-stay emails that thank guests for their custom and ask if their needs were met. Try to make your message feel conversational, and don’t be afraid to give it a little personality — you’ll come across sounding more friendly and genuine compared to a formal, corporate-sounding email.
Ultimately, communicating with guests lets you understand them more deeply. When that happens, needs are anticipated and catered for in advance, guests feel more appreciated, and the entire experience is elevated to another level.
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