Today’s travelers want much more than just service with a smile, and Gensler’s Hospitality Experience Index has found patterns in how guests interact with hotel environments. The report spanned over multiple years and included insights from 1,200 hotel guests from different age groups, generations, and travel reasons. Primarily, the report found that travelers in any group want the same things: upped hotel essentials, supported lifestyles, and better thought-out hotel experiences.
Guests want basic hotel fundamentals–like cleanliness, quality service, and safety–but prefer if that service is paired with optimized technology, luxurious amenities, and an upscale atmosphere. The aesthetic that many guests are looking for includes six design elements: beauty, comfort, intimacy, authenticity, inspiration, and new technology. Building on the classic hotel essentials gives the customer more engagement with the property. And, without those fundamentals working seamlessly, “the potential ‘wow’ moments will be overshadowed,” says Steven Upchurch, firm-wide hospitality leader and managing director for Gensler.
Blending business and leisure is highly important, and guests now expect hotels to accommodate a wide range of travel purposes while still providing personalization. The report shows that hotels are more than just a place to sleep–guests want to bring their lifestyles from home to the hotel with them. However, hotels can find blending these travel purposes challenging when maintaining authenticity. Most business travelers prefer to have leisurely experiences while staying in a hotel, and engaging with these guests is critical to hospitality experiences.
The report also found that first impressions are better when hotels pre-set expectations; this leads to better retention, recommendations, and online ratings. Guests usually carefully choose a hotel and may be disappointed upon arrival if not receiving an expected experience. To avoid this, hotels can set better expectations and pleasantly surprise guests with interesting and engaging amenities upon arrival that were unexpected.
When looking to generate better guests’ experiences, Upchurch has four takeaways from the report to better a hotelier’s guests’ experiences based on Gensler’s Hospitality Experience Index.
1. Make every customer feel like your target customer.
“Our research found that when people travel, it’s rare that they’re just doing one thing. Business and leisure are blurring, and younger generations, in particular, have an always-on lifestyle. But guests still expect comfortable and personalized experiences. That means the best hotels need to somehow present many faces to their many audiences without being generic or boring.”
2. Have an intentional approach to guest interaction.
“Warm and welcoming staff is key to great experiences. Technology has infiltrated hotels but the way that guests interact with technology should be carefully curated. Don’t underestimate the value of a friendly face.”
3. Today’s guest is tomorrow’s business.
“The impact of a guest’s expectations of their hotel stay–whether they’ll return or recommend to their friends–is significant. Hotels that offer a great experience and encourage guests to share their experiences will have a leg up on future customers.”
4. Make the room amazing and go above and beyond.
“The most important factors continue to be basics, like a comfortable bed and a clean room. But amenities, common areas, and activities are increasingly important. Get the room right, and then go beyond it to focus on a holistic experience.”