Why guest experience is important
Guest experience refers to the interaction between a residence and its guests in respect of hotels and vacation rentals. From pre-arrival to post-arrival communication and everything in between, guests always have expectations about their stay. If you meet their expectations (or, better yet, exceed them), you build a relationship and create loyalty. On the other hand, you can lose a guest if their guest experience does not match with their expectations. Of course, you want to attract the Next Gen guest that perfectly matches the experience economy trend. Now you know how to improve your guests’ experience, in this blog we outline why this is important and what the benefits are of doing so.
A quick recap about guest experience
Just to remind you: a quick recap about the what, why and how of a guest experience. Even before a guest enters your property, the guest journey has already started. Did they look at a social media platform and spot a picture of your residence? Are they booking a stay at your hotel via a website or an app? That is where the guest experience begins! And the better your guest experience is, the more satisfaction they will feel about their stay. Subsequently, this can increase the chance that they come back. Needless to say, this increases the success of your business.
The first impression is key for generating more returning guests. You may already be addressing this issue by creating attractive content across your social media channels. Another good option is to offer guests a tool with which to make reservations. It should be easy to use, work across multiple devices and fit within your brand’s desired appearance. The more passion you put into this, the greater the chance of a great guest experience.
A personalized experience is a highly valued experience
Data is of growing importance for hotels, restaurants and other players in the field of hospitality. Gathering guests’ habits, likes, dislikes, diets, allergies, anniversaries and other specific dates is more valuable than you might expect. With that information, you can better personalize their guest experience. If you work with a team, you want all members to be informed in order to create the best results.
Studies have shown that 60% of guests with positive guest journey return to the same company in the future. Furthermore, 39% of them are willing to spend more money if their experience is personalized. On top of that, 41% will encourage their relatives to visit your residence or restaurant by sharing their great guest experience. This word-of-mouth advertising is priceless for many companies in the hospitality industry.
In line with this, it is important to offer non-stop service to your guests. Provide, for example, for an in-person pre-arrival correspondence to catch guest requests and services. By calling your guests and allowing them to ask last-minute questions about the hotel or vacation rental, you show that you are welcoming and an expert in the area. Also, take advantage of your past guests. Using your CRM to coordinate and send tailored emails to them, with offers to return.
The key to finding opportunities to enhance the guest experience is to focus on the three C’s: communication (from pre-arrival to post-arrival), convenience (taking care of your guests during their entire stay, as well as before and after), and choice (offer guests different opportunities to make choices that fit their needs and wishes). If you meet these three C’s, you improve the guest experience.
Benefitting from guest experience
For different reasons, improving your guest experience is important. By creating this, taking into account these 7 tips, you as an entrepreneur in the hotel and vacation rentals industry: both stand out from your competitors (most hotels and vacation rentals are offering the same thing!), and attract the Next Gen guest. For you, this leads toward:
- better online reviews and scores;
- more referrals or word of mouth for your property;
- higher retention and more returning guests;
- increased earning;
- increased average spend per guest; and
- reduced operational cost (e.g. no need for an amply occupied front office).
Moreover, improving the guest experience is good for your customers too. They will feel treated better, need to spend less time in terms of arranging stuff, and will have a better overall feeling about their stay. In short: it’s definitely a win-win!
How guest experience can be managed
You know what the guest experience is, how to improve it, why you would do that and what the benefits are. We conclude with an explanation about the use of a software platform that can help you create these benefits with ease.
For the management of your property, you probably use a Property Management System (PMS). A part of the guest data is stored here, e.g. guest profiles. When it comes to the restaurant, the Point of Sale (POS) system is usually leading, in which the guest data about dietary wishes are saved. In order to create optimal results in terms of guest experience, you can connect/ integrate the PMS (and POS) with an experience software platform like Holiday Hero. Depending on the type of integration, the guest data is pushed into the system. Where PMS or a POS are used by the operators, such as hotels and hosts, the guest app will be customer facing. As a consequence, the guest operates the tool itself.
It follows that software for hotels and vacation rentals are scattered across the journey. Per stage of the journey multiple tools can be used by the guest. During the pre-arrival (the booking stage), the OTA’s like Airbnb or Booking.com deliver the guest experience. Hotels or Hosts put placements on these channels or use channel software platforms to make sure their property is featured on all these platforms and thus could be found easily by the guests.
Increasing the average spend per guest
The next phase concerns the period in between the booking and the arrival to stay. Once the booking is placed, this gets pushed into the PMS, which usually is the core of how the business operates. From the PMS the arrival could be managed, but this could also be pushed straight to other platforms, depending on how the operator likes to work and what features the software platforms have.
Many software platforms offer localized customer support, either as a standard feature or as an add-on. But don’t forget to check the rates! After all, you want to choose a platform that helps your business reduce costs while improving the experience of your guests. Last but not least, the platform should have many extra features, including table or room turn rates, staff productivity, and multiple revenue streams, such as tickets, events and gift cards. These elements can increase the average spend per guest.
Attract the Next Gen!
Do you want to benefit from an optimal guest experience? Offer your customers a customized stay that meets their needs and desire to explore and discover. Be proactive and be available 24/7. This will not only increase their satisfaction, but also strengthen their loyalty, resulting in more returning guests and word-of-mouth promotion. As a consequence, your revenues will continuously increase. And in the end, that’s where it is all about for you!