The hospitality sector is an industry highly dependent on customer satisfaction. Great reviews are often proof of a great hotel guest experience. When more people share their positive experiences online, the hotel’s reputation dramatically improves. In contrast, even one instance of negative feedback can send ratings into a downward spiral.
This is why companies compete to provide their customers with the ultimate guest experience. From making a reservation to after checkout, hotels give their all to ensure their guests leave happy. This bodes well for tourists, as they ultimately benefit from the heightened competition.
How Do You Create The Ultimate Hotel Guest Experience?
So, how do hotel management teams create the ultimate hotel guest experience? Believe it or not, achieving positive feedback doesn’t require shiny gadgets or huge overhauls. Instead, hotels should focus on getting even the smallest details right. Start by going over previous reviews and looking at areas where management and staff can improve.
Here are some subtle yet effective ways for hotels to elevate the hotel guest experience.
A Simple Smile Goes a Long Way
Many will dismiss smiling as very basic advice. You’d be surprised to learn how many managers forget to remind their staff to regularly smile. Portraying a pleasant disposition from the start isn’t just for looks, either.
A study from the Journal of Service Management attests to the power a smiling staff member carries. Compared to straight-faced employees, those who flash their pearly whites resulted in higher customer satisfaction. Contrary to earlier assumptions that the effect of smiling employees is only temporary, they actually foster a lasting positive impression.
As a result, managers should continue to encourage employees to display a more accommodating persona whenever facing customers. However, they should learn the distinction between smiling for the sake of smiling and doing so out of genuine enjoyment. The latter works better at diffusing early tensions and helps maintain a warm, pleasant atmosphere.
At the same time, managers should also prioritize ensuring workers get the breaks and benefits they need to actually have reasons to smile.
Provide Omnichannel Communication
Before, during, and even after their stays, hotel guests often have multiple reasons to communicate with the hotel. For example, many travelers experiencing flight delays call to confirm their reservation while in transit. Others may want to call the hotel for assistance when they’re stuck in an unfamiliar part of town. Many call after their visit to ask about items they’ve left behind. During these occasions, not everybody has access to a landline or can afford to wait for an email reply. This is where omnichannel support can bridge the communication gap and help provide an overall better hotel guest experience.
Even without an emergency, having omnichannel support is something clients can appreciate. Many hotel inquiries come from overseas from tourists already making plans for their next vacation. Those coming from different time zones might find it difficult to reach out to a customer service team that’s only phone-based and is restricted to eight hours a day. In addition, customers will also find it convenient to make reservations over their smartphones before continuing the process via email or phone, if needed.
Handle Guest Complaints Quickly
The belief that “the customer is always right” is now the subject of much debate across the business world. However, addressing a customer’s complaint remains closed to negotiation. The swift resolution of a minor guest inconvenience will often pay for itself, as it means avoiding bigger problems down the road.
Many hotel staff members are unable to immediately handle simple complaints, like slow wifi, unsatisfactory meals, or noisy next-door guests. Many employees are bound to follow draconian corporate guidelines that have no issue making customers wait to maneuver red tape. However, these rules often oppose today’s ‘cancel culture’ mindset, where anything short of swift resolution is viewed as an act of wrongdoing. A complaint, no matter how unjustified, can become tomorrow’s viral video if not addressed immediately.
Show You Take Customer Complaints Seriously
Regardless of avoiding a potential social media fiasco, addressing customer complaints is always the right thing to do. Most problems often solve themselves when all involved parties come together to discuss the issue at hand. This is why hotel management needs to show their willingness to resolve an issue by just showing up and acknowledging the complaint.
While not all complaints are justifiable, letting the customer air out their grievance will at least absolve management from neglecting their guests. The customer may not even agree with the decision. But, at least the hotel can defend itself when unfounded accusations begin to fly across the media. And if the hotel is really at fault, what better way to save face than to let the customer and the world know how fast the company acknowledged and resolved the complaint.
Celebrate With Your Guests
Celebrating with guests doesn’t mean having off-duty personnel crash a private party happening on the hotel’s premises. Rather, celebrating with guests means appreciating the fact that customers chose to celebrate on the premises as a whole.
Hotel management should be aware of which guests booked the hotel to celebrate a personal milestone. This isn’t just the debutante who booked the ballroom, or the newlywed couple who took up an entire wing for the entourage. It also means recognizing that the old married couple who booked a room recently celebrated their 40th anniversary, or that a large family gathered for dinner to celebrate grandpa’s retirement.
Either way, management should go the extra mile to convey their appreciation for the guests who chose to make their venue part of their special moments. Especially for guests who prefer celebrating quietly, a simple token of appreciation—such as a complimentary bottle of wine, a bouquet, or a discount—can go a long way. Decorate it with a heartfelt greeting from the staff, and you might be surprised at how positively guests react. Even better, the hotel will have spent a minimal amount to provide their customers with an unforgettable hotel guest experience.
Leverage In-Room Technologies
Remember when a hotel room’s only link to the front desk was the analog telephone, manned by an operator? Nowadays, hotel guests can have access to the hotel’s entire catalog of services without leaving their rooms. For starters, guests get access to their rooms with the use of smart keys downloaded on their smartphones. They can also control the room’s lighting, heating, and music via a smart app.
In addition, the room’s smart TV offers far more than streaming services, weather reports, and local TV stations. Guests can also use the smart TV to browse the hotel’s many amenities and make reservations. They can also check out room service menus and place an order. This might seem like a technology upgrade specifically designed for their guests’ convenience. However, rest assured that hotels will also benefit from this tenfold. Providing self-service kiosks through apps also means that hotels get to reduce their labor costs while achieving faster response times.
Hotels are betting that guests will enjoy the ability to control their room environment and order services via smart apps. Management can also include a feedback system in the app that allows guests to leave their impressions. This can be a crucial source of usage data and insights. This data can help management refine their services to provide the ultimate hotel guest experience.
Reward Loyal Customers
Throughout its lifespan, loyalty programs undeniably generate interest among customers. However, companies should continually check if the programs they implement are bringing lasting value to their specific market. In the case of hotel chains, rewarding frequent users makes sense, as this can only drive loyalty.
However, using the usual mechanics of offering free stays or room upgrades after accumulating a certain number of points is becoming tiresome. Often, members complain that the reward program only benefits power users or those holding corporate accounts. Nowadays, modern rewards programs mix incentives offering instant gratification and bigger prizes. Free drinks, complimentary parking, and late checkouts are some of the low-tier rewards that many customers will appreciate. Management can offer complimentary access to exclusive amenities or one-day memberships to private clubs. These can serve as trials for guests who have yet to experience their premium offerings.
In addition, acknowledging loyal customers when communicating with them can go a long way. Providing personalized greetings along with a recap of their recent visits can make them feel recognized and appreciated.
Collect and Respond to Feedback
Learning more about how guests perceive your overall level of service remains one of the best ways to improve. Knowing what made the majority of hotel guests happy during their stay helps management decide which amenities, services, and even menu items to retain and which ones to let go. Of course, the trick is in finding out what guests think. The company stands to benefit from knowing what customers think, regardless if that perception is good or bad.
When the overall customer satisfaction scores average between good and excellent, marketing will have a powerful advertising tool that can attract even more customers. After all, if more customers are happy during their stay than not, your hotel is probably doing something right.
If the overall score is average or less than average, the company receives a good lesson on how to improve itself. Identifying the areas for improvement is a good start. This also gives the organization the information needed to remove programs that aren’t working and further improve those that are generating interest and income.
Going back to the challenge of eliciting feedback from guests, offering an incentive to submit their feedback may help. A discount on the next visit or the promise of an upgrade may not be as enticing as it seems, especially if the customer is intent on leaving negative feedback or has no plans to return. Instead, offer a better incentive that can be immediately redeemable, like free express checkouts, airport shuttle services, or even a complimentary drink. This way, the guest will also see how serious you are about soliciting feedback and making sure they leave satisfied.
Level Up Your Customer Service
Hotel companies are continuously on the lookout for ways to create a great hotel guest experience. Getting an experienced customer service team to handle backend operations is one way to increase your operational efficiencies. Ideally, the customer service team can provide productive, 24/7 support. They also are great at using modern technology geared to service the modern customer. However, maintaining an in-house team that fills these requirements will require a significant chunk of a company’s focus and budget.
Thankfully, customer service is one of the back-office operations that can benefit from outsourcing. Choosing a reliable outsourcing partner to assume the role of customer service can provide your company the boost you need while significantly reducing your overhead costs. By outsourcing back-office tasks to industry experts, you can allocate a bigger chunk of your time, focus, and budget to growing your hotel business.
Make Each Stay a Complete Hotel Guest Experience
Every hotel guest will engage with customer service representatives, whether that be at booking, checkout, or anything in between. This underscores the need to continuously improve your levels of customer service. If you don’t, somewhere out there is a business working tirelessly to make itself a household name.
For companies seeking to improve their efficiencies and bottom lines, consider outsourcing your backend operations. Helpware is an outsourcing partner that specializes in providing top-tier technical know-how and staffing.
Helpware can help you provide your customers with the best hotel guest experience—every time. Contact us so we can learn more about your unique business needs today!