Ways to Provide The Ultimate Personalized Guest Experience

Customization and tailoring of services and products is no longer a luxury in the current market. The industry today is far more competitive than ever, and businesses today need to create a long-lasting impression on their customers. As for the hospitality industry, today with the rise of online media customers have access to details and reviews about thousands of hotels and destinations at their fingertips. Hence hotels, restaurants and other sectors of the hospitality industry need to establish a bond with their customers in order to stand out. By forming an emotional connection, guest relationships can be maintained over the years. It also helps in advertising as words are spread by loyal customers who provide positive reviews.

The Four Seasons Hotel was recently seen investing around $18 million in redesigning their online presence which now offers personalized webpages to viewers. Customization efforts need not necessarily be so cost-intensive or include such massive changes. There a lot of changes which the hospitality industry can introduce in their practices to make the guests feel more at home. Mentioned below are some tips which can enable you to provide a more memorable experience for your customers.

  • Establishing social media presence- This is one of the easiest ways of connecting with your customers. Twitter over the recent times has proved to be an excellent tool for addressing personal issues and sending emergency messages. Also sending customized content over social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram can create a long-lasting impression on the guest’s mind. By identifying the preferences and tastes of the customers via their social media profiles, hotels can tailor their style of presentation and aesthetics to suit the customers.
  • Using the customer’s name- Using the names of your customers is a scientifically proven way to establish a connection to your customer. Greeting a guest with their names while they are checking in or checking out and during general conversation with staff can help you in establishing a relationship quickly. Whether you use their last names or address them with titles is totally up to the nature of the guests and the kind of formal or casual relationship that you would want to have with the customers.

 

  • Use handwritten notes- Writing personal notes and communication in the form of handwritten letter often has a profound impact upon guests. Special occasions like birthdays, anniversaries and other celebrations are an excellent opportunity to let your guests know that you care about them via personal notes and letters.

 

  • Customize service and delivery- Customizing the room according to a theme based on the customer’s taste or decorating a particular dinner or dessert in a unique fashion is a great way to provide a personalized guest experience. You can also experiment with providing in-room amenities depending on special occasions and requests. The room and service that you provide must always reflect the tastes and preferences of the guests.
  • Provide special services to loyal and regular customers- Having methods and technologies in place that allow you recognize repeat and loyal customers is vital in providing a memorable service. It is a strong marketing strategy to treat your loyal customers differently. Whenever repeat customers visit the establishment, the staff must be able to identify them and treat them with a special greeting. You can also offer them special discounts and offers along with special services. You can identify the purpose of their visit and provide services such as meeting rooms and Wi-Fi services for business stays, halls for family gatherings and parties among other services.

 

  • Making an impression during farewell- It is the role of the staff to collect the necessary information about the guest and the experience that they had. A note should be made of all the unaddressed concerns in-order to provide a better service in the future. While the guests leave, it is a good idea to present them with some form of mementos so that they remember the time they spent. A warm invitation for a return visit should also be communicated to the guests.

 

  • Have a talented team of managers- Managers spend the maximum interaction time with customers out of all the staff. They are there to meet and greet, address concerns, coordinate activities, listen to special guest needs and requests among other services. They are the primary point of interaction between the hotel and the guest. The managers that you employ must have crisp and polished communication skills with a bent towards innovation. Managers must recognize the individual concerns of every guest and must also predict their expectations to provide the best possible service.

 

  • Provide guests with location-based information- A lot of guests are looking to explore the destination and are often looking for information and tips. The hotel staff can support the guests by providing them with details about attractive locations and tourist spots. Insider tips also play a major role in personalizing guest experiences. Hotels and travel companies can operate online portals for travel customization and travel. You can also provide links to local tourist services and tie-up with local restaurants, mentioning the relevant details on the website.

 

  • Rely on automation software- Today there are a number of automation tools that can collect data about guest preferences online. The customer base is very dynamic and hospitality demands change from season to season. Keeping track of changes in customer mentality and preferences can be a labor-intensive task. Thankfully there are a multitude of data analysis and meta-data handling software for this purpose. By constantly monitoring the consumer mentality, patterns can be identified that help hotel executives predict customer expectations. The goal here is to make the job of identifying and working with consumer data easier.

With continuous development in technology, customizing and personalizing hospitality solutions is becoming an affordable and critical strategic factor. CRM systems are on the rise and will continue to see developments that will allow the hospitality sector to serve the guests better.

 

How to strategically manage your hotel brand’s equity and reputation

Ok, so you work with a hotel brand. Whether you own it, manage it, or manage just certain aspects of it, I have one question for you.

What is the most valuable thing your company owns? Is it your properties? Market share? Number of loyalty members? Take a guess.

The answer is actually your brand. Well actually it’s your brand equity which is based on customer perception of your brand name; customers associate your brand name with a promise, assurance, and a set of expectations that you must be able to maintain consistently. And when you’re managing multiple properties, even multiple extensions with multiple properties, ensuring that you’re maintaining the consistency of your brand promise becomes quite complex.

But before we get into measurement, let’s spend a few moments understanding the importance of guest satisfaction on a brand level and where guest satisfaction truly comes from.

Guests are the true determinants to whether a brand succeeds or fails and guest satisfaction has been used as a measure of operational success for branding strategies for the past 25 years (O’Neill and Mattila 2015). In fact, not only does guest satisfaction lead to repeat purchases, positive word of mouth, and guest loyalty, it also leads to higher market share, ADR, profits, and shareholder value (Prasad and Dev 2000).

But where does guest satisfaction come from? How can your brand ensure that your properties are performing at a level where no guest leaves your venue unsatisfied?

Well, let’s think about it. What makes guests happy? The location? The room quality? The amenities?

All these things are important, but nothing compares to the immense impact that quality of service delivery makes.

Your guests are happy because of the service they are given and the service is given to them by your employees. So technically, great service and high customer satisfaction depends mostly on the performance of your employees. And ensuring that your employees are motivated and passionate is not something that any brand should be confident about unless they have taken employee satisfaction into consideration when creating their brand standards and operational procedures.

In 1994, three brilliant professors from Harvard Business School introduced the service-profit chain, a methodology which demonstrates how employee satisfaction has a direct positive influence on customer loyalty which, in turn, contributes directly to an increase in revenue and profitability.

The chain is composed of several segments, all acting on a cause-effect relationship, where one event makes the other event happen.

In the next sections, you will find a breakdown of each of these segments: what they mean and how you can achieve them.

Internal Service Quality measures how much an employee’s work environment contributes to their satisfaction. Additionally, it identifies how easily employees communicate with one another inside the workplace. When you empower your employees, you see an immediate increase in employee satisfaction, hotel performance, and revenues.

Did you know that increasing your employee engagement investments by 10% each year can increase profits by $2,400 per employee?

Routier helps you invest in your employees, by empowering them with the right tools, resources, and information they need to help them:

  • Manage their tasks more efficiently and effectively
  • Coordinate with other employees within the organization
  • Engage with your venue’s guests across all channels, with one platform
  • Accomplish their own goals

Employee Satisfaction measures whether your employees are satisfied and happy at work. Higher employee satisfaction is directly linked to higher productivity, motivation, commitment, and service quality. Employee satisfaction derives from employee support and rewards offered by their workplace.

Did you know that the cost of replacing an employee is upwards of 200%? When your employees are satisfied, they are 87% less likely to leave the company.

Routier helps you identify and recognize outstanding team members who deliver quantity and quality. With this transparency, you can create incentive and rewards programs to help boost morale and motivation.

Employee Productivity is an assessment of the efficiency of your employee; it is measured in terms of output over a specific period of time. Higher productivity in the workplace will translate into better customer service and interactions.

Did you know that highly engaged employees are 38% more likely to have above-average productivity?

Routier helps hotels measure and improve their employees’ productivity and performance by:

  • Automating staff and guest engagement processes in one central location
  • Eliminating communication redundancies across departments
  • Generating staff performance analytics, to help measure the quality and quantity of employee performance
  • Identifying patterns and trends across departments and employees, helping identify strengths and weakness in hotel operations

External Service Quality measures the quality of service that your employees deliver to your customers; customers place value on quick service and employee friendliness.

External service quality translates directly into increased profits; the more satisfied a customer is with the services offered by a business, the more likely they are to increase their spend, recommend to others, and revisit in the future.

Did you know that if a service business manages to increase its percentage of loyal customers from 76% to 81%, its net profits are expected to double?

Routier helps hotels “do things right the first time” by:

  • Measuring and monitoring the quality of service delivered by their employees
  • Relaying information to those responsible for designing the service
  • Providing staff with real-time alerts and notifications for guest issues, in order to improve issue-recovery time
  • Creating 1-central dashboard which obtains guest feedback in real-time, and translates that data into information in order to improve services and products
  • Creating a seamless engagement experience for your guests; no downloads, no installations, no hassles
  • Producing the highest engagement rates in the industry

Customer Satisfaction measures how your product or service met or surpassed your customer’s expectations. It is provides hotels with a metric they can use to manage and improve their business.

Listening to your customers is important; their feedback is gold! They’re actually teaching you how to improve your service and business so that you can make it better.

Did you know that an engaged guest with a positive past experience spends up to 140% more than a guest with a negative past experience?

Routier is designed to efficiently communicate, track, and manage all of your guests’ issues. And, most importantly, we make it as easy as possible for your customers to give you feedback and tell you about the problems they are having. Losing even one customer can have a serious negative impact on your business.

Routier helps hotels ensure that no guest leaves their venue unsatisfied by:

  • Providing employees with the right information at the right time to handle client problems promptly
  • Measure and monitor guest satisfaction in real-time
  • Encouraging guests to report their concerns, in the most seamless and easy way possible
  • Gathering guest data in a consistent and objective fashion

Customer Loyalty, derived from customer satisfaction, is exhibited when the customer continuously and consistently repurchases from you or revisits your hotel due to the positive experiences they have had in the past. Creating a loyal customer base is key to gaining a competitive advantage and succeeding.

Did you know that…

  • A 5% increase in customer loyalty can produce profit increases from 25%-85%?
  • It costs almost 7 times more to bring in a new customer than to retain an existing one?
  • That the probability of selling to a new prospect is 5-20%, whereas the probability of selling to an existing customer is 60-70%?

Routier helps you identify and leverage the opportunities that loyal and satisfied guests provide by increasing:

  • Referrals
  • Retention
  • Repeat visitations
  • Loyalty member enrollment
  • Upsells, upgrades, and cross-sells
  • Advocacy
  • And gathering guest information (emails, etc.) for post-stay engagement

So you see, customer satisfaction isn’t independent. It’s completely dependent on employee satisfaction and performance. If you don’t invest in your employees the right way, you can’t empower them with the tools and information they need to do their job correctly. And if they don’t do their job correctly, your properties suffer and your brand suffers.

Your brand is the most valuable asset your company owns. Without your brand name, brand image, and brand reputation, you got nothing. And that’s why protecting your brand is so important for long-term market success.

 

5 simple tips that are going to take your hospitality business to the next level

Hospitality is a competitive business and to stay ahead you need to constantly up your game. Every now and then you need to revisit your strategies, get rid of what no longer works, tweak the parts that do work and see where you can introduce something new. There are some underlying truths of course that will never change; the customer is always right and you have to deliver great service. There is absolutely no shortcut for the latter and as for the former; hospitality is the one industry where that has to be a mantra.

Five tips to take your hospitality business to the next level

Once you’ve got the two main points down to an art here are five simple tips that you can inculcate into your practice to elevate your business:

1. Give your product menu a makeover: Whether you run a hotel, restaurant or bar you have a menu of sorts. Be it services, food or drinks, every now and then you need to add something new or ditch something that is just not selling. Even adding deals like happy hours or buy one get one, could give your customers something new to look forward to.

2. Keep with the times: If you’re not promoting your business on social media nor have an app for customers to make reservations then you are going to get left behind. It’s all well and good to not want to jump on the bandwagon and do what everyone else is doing but times are changing. There is a whole new generation of customers out there who live their lives online and if you don’t have a digital presence you won’t get noticed. Hire a professional if you must but give yourself some online exposure to stay relevant.

3. Stand out from the crowd: If you want to get noticed and continue to stay noticed you need to give people something to talk about. You don’t have to be the best at everything but find one or two things that you can really flaunt. If your location is not the best then try and make your décor fun and inviting. If you are a restaurant, nothing beats providing excellent quality food in hygienic conditions to your customers. A clean setting puts customers at ease and has them coming back for more.

4. Take care of your staff: Overworked and underpaid staff are not only going to underperform but will eventually quit. If you want to provide quality service with staff that sticks around for the long haul you need to take care of them. Give them good incentives, realistic working hours, and days off. Once they are loyal to you they will pitch in on their own when you are a few hands short or it’s a busy weekend.

5. Know the competition: As mentioned earlier, hospitality is a highly competitive business, with new establishments springing up every day. It wouldn’t hurt to keep up to date with who your competitors are and if any of them are doing exceptionally well you could learn a thing or two from them.

10 Things Every Person in Hospitality Should Know About Guest Experience

The Oxford dictionary defines hospitality as the friendly and generous reception and entertainment of guests, visitors, or strangers. To extend this definition to the hospitality industry – one of its key functions is giving guests a friendly and enjoyable experience.

If you work in the hospitality industry then you know all too well that the customer is always right. Learning to smile and bear is something everyone who has worked in hospitality picks up early on in their career. Perhaps we can look at things in another way that will not only improve the guest experiences, but make life easier for those giving the service.

Ten things you should know about the guest experience

1.The right tone of voice: Whether you are a waitress at a restaurant or manning the front desk of a hotel, you represent the institution you work for. Your manner and tone of voice set the pace for the guests’ experiences at that establishment. Make sure to have a friendly and welcoming tone that makes the customer feel glad that they came there. Have a smile on your face and show a willingness to serve the customer in the best possible way to kick start a great experience for the guest

2. Listen to the client: It is extremely important for a good guest experience that you actually listen to the client. Addressing the guest’s question and providing a concrete solution makes the guest feel cared for. On the flip side, being unable to find a solution for the guest or worse still, brushing off their concerns could lead to the customer feeling unimportant and even angry which is a sure way to lose business. Providing a solution without the need to escalate the problem to another department makes the guest happy and more confident in your abilities

3. Work like a well-oiled machine: Every now and then a situation might crop up that leaves you in a less than desirable state. A diner might be overly particular about a way a dish needs to be served, holding up one of your waiters while other diners are left waiting. If you have a free moment step in and take a few orders from tables that are not yours. The seamless stepping in for each other ensures that service continues without a hitch and the customers don’t notice the difference. It would be better if there was a system in place beforehand to avoid any confusion during actual service

4. Take initiative: Going the extra mile is something that we are encouraged to do in almost every industry and hospitality is no different. In the hospitality industry especially, it is imperative that you make the guest feel important and even special. Offering a wheelchair bound guest special amenities before being asked, or volunteering information about a local event a guest might like, are ways to take initiative. Simply by asking a guest at check in if they need anything else and then actually delivering on something they asked for could vastly improve the guest experience

5. Dealing with the tough ones: You could be blessed with the kindest and friendliest of guests or you could be saddled with a “find fault with everything” type, you have to learn to deal with all types. As difficult as it might be to smile and be civil to an excessively critical guest you need to just think happy thoughts and get on with it. If your guest is complaining about the color of the room and if possible give them another. If you can’t change the guest’s room, tell them politely that all the other rooms are occupied. It is a very rare situation that they would actually pack up and leave because of that, but if they do at least you know that you did whatever you could

6. Offer novel experiences: One of the main things travelers are looking for is to experience the local culture. It would do a hotel well to keep informed of cultural events and festivals that are taking place in their city and inform their guests of the same. Organizing a tour bus and guide to a local food festival or an exhibition of local handicrafts could provide guests with an enjoyable and unique experience

7. Using technology to improve service: With a plethora of new customer relationship management (CRM) software available these days, hotels should make the most use of them. Not just saving basic customer data but also preferences could help personalize and improve the overall customer experience. If you have a guest who has visited before and has a nut allergy, the next time they call to book with you, you can let them know that you will take care to not serve them nuts. Similarly if a regular guest has a child you could ask them if they would like a kid’s cot setup or if they would require childcare services, before they ask you

8. Automating the booking process: In the age of the internet most guests will find you and even book you online. Having an automated booking process which is easy to use makes the booking experience a lot less stressful for the guest. If with a few clicks and entering some basic information the guest can get a reservation you have given them a good experience already. Long and difficult procedures might lead to a guest leaving your website without making a booking and you losing business

9. Follow up and feedback: Your service to your guest does not need to end with them checking out of your hotel or restaurant. An email or a text message asking for their feedback could be exactly what your client needed. Some guests might not take the time to reply but for those who did have a grievance this gives them the perfect opportunity to voice it. Following up with customers will only add to an enhanced guest experience

10. Taking time to recharge: Working in hospitality could leave you exhausted, sleep deprived and irritable. It would never do for your frayed nerves to spill over into your service of a customer. You also need to take care of yourself to make sure that you are at your best to serve others. Take some time off every week to rest and recharge your batteries so that you can give your guests a great experience.

 

How to Make Your Hotel’s Online Reputation Stand Out

Managing your hotel’s online reputation is essential to ensuring the success of your business. More than one third of consumers today will not book a hotel room without first reading reviews online. Hotels that have poor or no reviews on TripAdvisor and social media risk losing customers. On the other hand, hotels with good reviews stand out from the crowd and attract more bookings. Here are some great tips for making your hotel stand out online.

  1. Remind Guests to Review Your Hotel

Unfortunately, guests who have bad experiences are often more motivated to review your hotel than guests who have a good time. Create a more balanced review profile by politely asking all guests to leave a review when they check out. You can also send an email a few days later to remind guests to review your hotel on social media or TripAdvisor.

  1. Give Guests a Great Experience

The best way to get great online reviews is to give guests an excellent experience at your hotel. Proactively ask guests whether they have any issues that you can help them with during their stay. Always go the extra mile to help guests have a fantastic stay at your hotel.

  1. Respond to Reviews

Monitoring your social media accounts and TripAdvisor profile means you can keep up with the reviews you receive online. It also gives you an opportunity to respond to reviews soon after they are posted. If you receive a negative review, leave a friendly and polite response thanking the reviewer for the constructive feedback. Calmly address any aspects of the review you disagree with, but don’t dismiss the reviewer’s opinion. For positive reviews, leave a simple thank you to let reviewers know you value their feedback.

  1. Take Feedback on Board

If you notice that a lot of reviews give the same negative feedback, you need to take this information to heart. For example, if multiple guests say your rooms are dirty in online reviews, consider hiring more cleaners. Once you have taken action to address problems with your hotel, you can let reviewers know what you are doing to address the issues they raised. Continue to monitor reviews to find out whether the action you took solved the problem.

  1. Remove Outdated and Unfair Reviews

In a few situations, you can apply to TripAdvisor to have bad reviews removed from your profile. For example, if your hotel undergoes major renovations, you can ask TripAdvisor to remove the old reviews to let your business enjoy a fresh start. However, the renovations need to be major structural changes, such as installing new rooms or complete property overhauls, not simple cosmetic changes. TripAdvisor will also remove reviews that are fake, threatening, profane, or self-promoting, as well as reviews from guests who try to use a bad review to blackmail you into giving them a free upgrade or refund. If some of your reviews are unfair or violate TripAdvisor’s terms of service, submit your request to have the review removed.

By monitoring your social media accounts and responding to reviews on TripAdvisor, you can control your brand’s online reputation. Use these tips to stand out from your competitors and attract more bookings.

The Different Types of Guests You Can Expect in a Hotel and How to Deal With Them

Guests come in all different shapes and sizes, and it’s important to understand what type of guest you’re dealing with in order to ensure you are giving them tight best service according to their needs.

Classifying the different types of guests

There are different ways of classifying hotel guests based on:

  • The purpose of their visit
  • Origin
  • Size of the group
  • Age group

Purpose

Depending on the purpose of their visit, they could be classified as:

Tourists:  The most common type of guests are tourists. According to the National Travel and Tourism office, more than seventy five million tourists visited the U.S. in 2016. Travel and tourism is a major contributor to the GDP with a total contribution of more than one trillion dollars in 2015. Not only is tourism important for local and national economies around the world, it is also a major contributor towards the global economy. According to Statista, tourism contributed over seven trillion dollars in 2016 to the global economy.

About 60% of people travel for leisure that can include sightseeing, recreation, visiting or other non-business activities. Leisure travelers that included both international and domestic travelers spent $660 billion in 2014 in the U.S.  The travelers are price sensitive, focused on getting the best hotel experience and expect to be made to feel at home.  Tourists can include a group of friends, families or group tours where the package includes tours and accommodation and one or all of the meals at times.  The recent trend also highlights the popularity of travelling solo.

Business travelers:  About 40% of guests are business travelers, according to a report from the American Hotel and Lodging Association (AHLA). While tourists usually travel in groups or with families, business travelers often travel alone. These are not as price sensitive as tourists and may be willing to pay more for the convenience and location of the hotel. The business traveler is also concerned about how well the hotel handles messages, conferences or meetings. Internet speed, computers, free Wi-Fi are some of the features that the business traveler is looking for.

Delegates and conventioneers: Attending seminars, trade fairs, conferences, delegates and conventioneers can be in groups or could include a solo traveler.

Health tourist: The recent focus on health and relaxation has led to the advent of the health tourist looking to rejuvenate with yoga, spa, meditation or other natural and holistic healing methods. According to a HVS report, 17 million travelers in 2014 were focused on ‘health and wellbeing’, and 40% of these were regular travelers. The “wellness tourists” are willing to spend 130% more than the average traveler according to an estimate.

Size matters!

Depending on the size of the group, they could be classified into:

Families: Families could be looking for a short break with a weekend getaway or could be in for a long and relaxed summer vacation. More often than not, the families include kids of all age groups and child friendly facilities are what they are looking for.

The solo traveler:  The solo traveler can be a business traveler or an adventure tourist. He or she could also be a VIP or an important international delegate.

Origin

Depending on their origin, guests can be classified as domestic or international travelers. The other way of classifying the guests could be on the basis of their age group. The Millenials are expected to account for 50% of travelers to the U.S. by 2025. This group is comfortable with technology and look for convenience in terms of keyless doors, internet of things, robot room service and much more. The elderly of course need facilities that cater to their special requirements.

Prevention is better than cure!

No matter what the origin, purpose or size, guests expect to be treated as priorities and want to get the most out of their stay in the hotel. Anticipating the needs of each type of guest and making the necessary arrangements beforehand will minimize complaints to a large extent. As in everything preventing complaints is better than dealing with them!

Some basic amenities that the hotel must provide obviously include a convenient check in and check out procedure, cleanliness, quick response to queries or complaints, pleasant dining experience and courtesy of the staff.

Tourists expect the convenience of a hotel pick up for their day tours while wanting to taste the local cuisines. Business travelers expect quick and efficient service, good internet speed and Wi-Fi among others.

Dealing with difficult guests

It may not be possible to anticipate every need of different types of guests and some guests are more demanding and hard to please. Dealing with angry customers requires patience and loads of training! Experts recommend using the following strategies to handle difficult customers:

Listen to the customer: It is important to lend a patient ear while the customer is voicing the complaints. Interrupting or not paying attention can make the situation worse. Allow the customer to explain at length the nature of the problem. The idea is to focus on the problem and not the person. If possible, lead the guest away from the area where there are other guests within earshot. If the problem is genuine, contacting the relevant staff to address the issue immediately is the best way to deal with the situation.

Resolve the issue in their favor: There are some difficult to please guests who are not satisfied with any resolution. Statistics show that 70% of the guests return to a hotel where a former complaint was resolved in their favor.  Providing a positive experience with a free upgrade, breakfast or dinner offers great return on investment in the long run as the guests are likely to not only revisit but recommend the hotel to others.

Ask for a solution: An irate guest may not be satisfied or appeased with a free upgrade or meal offer. If nothing else works with the angry customer, asking him or her for a solution to the problem politely could be the best way to deal with such difficult guests.  Once you fulfil the guest’s request, following up on the issue will make the guest feel special and valued. According to an estimate, 12 positive experiences are needed to compensate for one negative issue that is unresolved.