Finding ways to engage guests during their travels and while they are on property is critical for hotels. Industry professionals who understand the importance of customer service and guest engagement will tell you that a clean lobby and a cozy bed is not enough to woo guests. When, how, why, and what hotels communicate with guests during their stay should be evaluated and enhanced for today’s discerning traveler. Hotels should find new and innovative ways to modernize their guest interactions and drive more value from each guest stay.
Nailing hotel guest engagement strategies has big benefits, including building loyalty and repeat bookings, understanding customers better, and turning a detractor into a promoter. Ajeet Anand, senior vice president of global marketing for Cachet Hospitality Group, shared some of her insights on how hotels can do a better job at guest engagement.
Ensure a brand’s personality is consistent from its digital presence to the property
A hotel brand should be consistent when a guest is researching and booking a stay and when they arrive at the property. What hotels communicate online and across their entire digital footprint should also be apparent within the property-level experience and through staff interactions with guests. Maintaining continuity of the hotel’s brand promise with the customer who was initially attracted to the brand will help build loyalty and repeat bookings.
“Every hotel is going to have a brand promise when it comes to the experience on-property so hotels must find ways to differentiate themselves,” Anand explains. For example, “If hoteliers advertise and promote the hotel as a wellness property, hoteliers want to make sure that they communicate and deliver on that promise during the guest stay—perhaps the inclusion of yoga mats in room, healthy food options on property, and outside wellness instructors brought on-property.” This communicates to the guest that the hotel is consistent with their initial expectations. It tells the guest that the hotel is living up to what the brand promise is when they booked.
Train front-line teams to be active with the hotel CRM
Hotel front-line teams are instrumental in enhancing the guest experience. As hotel staff interacts with guests, they can learn more about guest preferences and use that information to enhance that guest’s current and future ones. An easy-to-use CRM could help hotel staff make anecdotal notes on customer preferences to build richer customer profiles. The CRM should be either directly or indirectly accessible by staff members who have meaningful interactions with guests, such as through a simple mobile app or cloud-based platform accessible by front-line teams.
Anand comments, “The real opportunity is after the hotel gets someone on property. Let’s just say the hotels gets someone on property who booked through an OTA. How does the hotel create a personal relationship with those guests so that next time they book, they book direct?” For example, if a traveler prefers to have certain types of amenities in the room or has a favorite pillow type, a trained team member should be able to capture this data and add it to the CRM quickly and easily without dragging down or delaying their work duties.
Leverage technology for real-time guest feedback and service recovery
Service recovery is a critical element of any hotel guest engagement strategy. Using technology can help with automating and expediting the guest feedback process. It is important to capture as much as possible in terms of real-time feedback so hotel staff can quickly get in front of negative guest feedback before it reaches TripAdvisor post-stay. Tools like text-messaging platforms, social media monitoring tools, and pulse surveys will help in identifying potential detractors and assist with turning them into promoters.
“Seamless guest engagement with a clear focus on customer service recovery and having a sense of immediacy in reacting to guest issues is critical,” Anand explains. “The ability to be program agnostic, meaning, it doesn’t matter how they want to get in touch with the hotel, their expectation is that the hotel finds a way to address it.”
To engage guests in real time, hotels must have the right communications tools in place—whether it’s text message, WeChat, email, or some other means. Not reacting fast enough and through the guests’ desired means of communicating with the hotel could be one of the biggest issues facing hotels today in terms of service recovery.
About the Author
Daniel Cline is the head of business development for Local Measure, a customer insights platform for the hotel industry. Daniel has previously worked for or consulted with companies such as WeWork, Waldorf-Astoria, Morgans Hotel Group, WeWork, Starwood Hotels, and Hotel Insider.