A guest’s experience when booking a hotel involves both mental and emotional elements and requires multiple decisions along the way. Most of the time, this process significantly contributes to the guest’s overall opinion of the hotel and can go from positive to negative in a matter of seconds. Thus, for every hotelier, it is important to identify, anticipate, and satisfy guest requirements to enhance the overall experience and drive important business metrics to build guest retention and loyalty.
One way to achieve this is to ensure both the guest and the hotel meet their marks from the time travel is planned to the time the hotel delivers follow-up surveys or ‘thanks for staying’ notifications. Key elements to consider include:
- Understand guest perspective
- Provide guest centric service
- Align guest expectations and fulfillment throughout their experience
- Make it personal
- Assure proper preparation and follow-up
- Properly communicate on guest terms
- Learn from success and failures and adjust along the way
Interaction between the hotel and the guest is vital to a positive experience. In today’s mobile environment, there are many opportunities to achieve success during a guest’s stay. According to eHotelier, 85% of international tourists have a mobile device with them while traveling, and according to Think with Google, 70% of travelers with smartphones have done travel research on their device.
A Constant Connection From Booking to Checkout
Understanding guest perspective begins as the guest is researching for the right fit to suit their hotel needs. This routinely involves basic elements such as location, price, amenities, brand recognition, previous experience, and ratings. Some particular mobile angles for hotels to pay attention to are properly mobile formatted web sites, mobile apps, logo tagged messaging, special offers delivered easily, and links to reward programs. The “planning to booking” stage is crucial for a positive guest mobile experience as indicated by 42% of people worldwide having booked a hotel room via their mobile device, according to Hotels.com. Additionally, Intelity reports that 70% of last minute bookings are made on mobile devices. A great way to enhance the mobile experience is for hotels to offer potential guests the ability to manage loyalty points for discounts, upgrades, or even special event amenities. For guests new to a loyalty program, this gives them the chance to learn about the benefits and educate them on how to gain points through the hotel itself, card issuers, or hotel partners. For existing loyalty guests, a mobile tool allows them to check existing points, past rewards, values, and any new offers to aid in their preferred booking. Mobile tools such as SMS & MMS messaging for quick broad notifications, RCS and social messaging for personalized conversational interaction, and even voice and video messages, should all be utilized in an omnichannel approach to ensure that guests can reach the hotel through their preferred channel.
Once a guest has passed the research and booking stage, the arrival and check-in process takes over as the most important step in the overall experience, ideally mitigating any possible buyers’ remorse while building excitement and respect for the hotel brand. A guest’s mobile experience during this stage should drive hotels to ensure proper expectations with notifications about hotel locations, room preferences, local amenities, and ease of check-in. Digital room keys, loyalty reward notifications, and other rich mobile content to quickly immerse a guest in their new surroundings are all valuable elements to be considered.
During a guest’s stay, a hotel should continue to use its mobile connection to deliver personalized content that meets guest needs via mobile concierge services through SMS messaging or another conversational social messaging channel. According to Hospitality.net, 51% of travelers expect to communicate via text messaging and 31% expect to communicate via social messaging. Additionally, according to Oracle, 77% of guests would like to request room service and amenities through the use of their mobile devices. Lastly, according to Hotelogix, 83% of guests want their hotel service promotions delivered to their mobile devices. Once the guest has concluded their stay and checked out, the same mobile communication has established during the visit becomes key in delivering a last impression as well as maintaining a positive relationship to help drive future stays and guest loyalty. This is accomplished through managing loyalty programs over mobile devices which may include mobile apps, recurring messaging through text or mobile push notifications, and enabling interactive social channels. The manner of these mobile communications must be carefully managed as to be personal to the guest, understanding previous experiences, balancing when and how to communicate with the guest on a recurring basis, ensuring that the guest can reach out about loyalty programs, special offers, and events, while staying up to date on hotel news and information. That way, when the time comes to book another hotel stay, the brand will remain top of mind with the guest, having stayed engaged through their mobile device, and boosting the guest’s confidence in another great experience.
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Rick Carlson is a Principal Solutions Engineer at Syniverse.