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 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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Guest Personalization: The Roadmap To “Youniverse”

Hotels are one of the few industries that depend entirely on satisfying every whim of their guests. The pressure becomes all the more intense given that hotels also happen to be one of the only industries where the good business depends on the number of customers staying overnight at the premises itself. As such, there customer-satisfaction has to be taken to all new level in a hotel than, say, in a company that deals with marketing or retail.

So what exactly makes a hotel such a highly critical industry when it comes to customer satisfaction?

  • A hotel runs non-stop. There are guests at all times of the day and night, unlike most other businesses
  • In the Hospitality industry, it all boils down to one thing – ‘hospitality’ – how you make your customers feel, rather than any product
  • Customers need to be made to feel special, rather than just be given the same routine treatment like other guests. This is the basic aspect that helps a hotel gain an edge over its competitors

These challenges have given way to an intensive customer-centered approach to hotel business operations called ‘Guest Personalization’. It simply means that the services of your hotel are carefully tailored to meet the individual needs of your guests, based on research, customer tracking, forecasting, analysis of online customer-behavior and so on.

If successfully done, these are the five major outcomes that you can expect your efforts to have on your hotel’s business:

  1. Higher Guest-Retention

In Hospitality, guest-retention plays a greater role than getting new guests. Guest-retention is more difficult to achieve because to convince your guests that you are so good that they should stick to using only your services can be quite a challenging task. Through Guest Personalization, Guest Retention can be enhanced because each guest will be made to feel special. Greater guest retention will translate into better business, and even help you expand your customer base because of the kind of positive reputation you will gain.

  1. Better Image In The Market

Once you have successfully achieved higher customer-retention, there is every chance that the market sees your hotel as one that is the best at doing what it is supposed to do. If you have successfully managed to create a happy recurring customer base, it will speak volumes of the quality of your services, thereby helping you to get established in the market as one of the best hotels. Better your image in the market, higher will be the turnover of your business.

  1. Enhancement Of Guest Experience

Once you are able to personalize your services to your guest, you will be better able to enhance your guest experiences. You will know exactly what kind of services to provide, how and when. Having good services in place are not the only thing that will ensure customer retention. Knowing how to deliver those services is just as important if you want to ensure better customer satisfaction. Today, the focus is not just on delivering goods and services to customers, but on enhancing ‘Consumer Experience’. This means that along with giving something to your customers, you should be able to help them experience and enjoy those services better. Customer experience can be enhanced by giving each guest services that personally have a strong value for them, even if it is a just a few services. This trumps a long list of services that the customer does not need, any day.

  1. Better Reviews

Reviews can either make or destroy any business. And today, what with the conveniences brought about by the internet, social media, travel websites, online complaint forums and so on, more and more customers are coming forward to share their experiences than ever before. These reviews are then read and shared by a wide circle of people within no time. Naturally then, all businesses – and especially those in the Hospitality sector – are afraid of bad reviews because that would be all it takes to undo all the effort invested in building up the business.

Now, if each guest is treated in a special manner, there is no doubt that it will lead to better reviews because each of them will want to tell the world how they felt when your hotel understood their every need and catered to each of them beautifully. As a result, you will see a better flow of business and a stronger recurring-customer base.

  1. Cost Saving

Guest personalization may seem like an expensive concept. However, the truth is that you will end up saving a lot in the long run. Think about the resources you would be wasting on offering services that your guests do not even want! Now, if you focus on giving each guest only what is required by them, you will definitely see your savings increase and cost of operation going down.

The Millennial Guest 101

Millennial hotel guests come with their own needs and expectations. From the way they travel to the sorts of budgetary constraints that they have to work with, millennials present new challenges and exciting opportunities for the hospitality industry.

Why Do Millennials Matter?

Millennials represent both an already significant and a growing percentage of the marketplace. By 2030, they will constitute the largest generational segment of the global population. One way or another, your hotel will need to develop an outreach strategy both through marketing and through accommodation options so that you can tap into this often overlooked demographic.

Whereas Baby Boomers ruled the past, millennials will dominate the future. Any hotel that wants to stay relevant and expand the reach of their business will need to connect with the up-and-coming generation.

The Hi-Tech Generation

Bear in mind that millennials are much more interconnected than their predecessors. They have spent their entire lives surrounded by technology, and they love to share their experiences with the world. While a Baby Boomer client is more likely to air their grievances with your management or staff members, a millennial is apt to voice their opinions and their concerns online, either via a Facebook post or in a Yelp review. Because word of mouth spreads especially quickly among the millennial population, it’s vital to cultivate a positive connection and to create an agreeable experience for your millennial guests.

This can prove surprisingly demanding. A single negative encounter (an unclean room, an impolite desk clerk, a wi-fi outage) can go viral, and this might adversely affect the appeal your hotel has for millennial guests. For that reason, you need to make an extra effort to ensure that all of your hotel’s services are on point. This might seem exhausting, but there are long-lasting benefits as well: if a millennial has an especially positive experience at your hotel, they’re likely to leave a positive review or to blab about it on social media. Positive feedback attracts attention to your business, and this means more business in the future.

Wanderlust

Studies show that millennials love to travel. Between business travel and vacations, it is estimated that millennials embark upon as many as nine trips per year. They often prefer pursuing experiences rather than accumulating possessions, and to that end, you’ll want to help them get the most out of the time they spend at their destination. Without beating them over the head with politeness, make sure that your facility caters to their needs. This means providing a comfortable room, helpful guides to the local sights, sounds, and scenery, and amenities like a swimming pool and an exercise facility.

Getting Ahead of the Curve

Because millennials are so active on social media, you’ll want to craft an intriguing social media persona that appeals to millennial sensibilities. Keep in mind that millennials have been bombarded with advertising since birth; they are not likely to be receptive to old school marketing techniques or direct appeals for their business. Millennials respond to humor, to stimulating media, and to a mild touch of irony. If you’re interested in drawing millennial eyes to your social media profile, you may want to consider hiring a social media specialist, and preferably one who is a millennial. By hiring a millennial to market your business, you can trust their judgment when it comes to reaching out to people from their generation. They know what’s cool, what feels old fashioned, and what strategies just straight-up doesn’t work.

Understanding Your Target Audience

Millennials have their own needs and expectations. This is a generation that is uniquely burdened with student loan debt, so they are always on the lookout for the most cost-effective option. This may mean that you need to offer special promotions, or to reexamine the look and feel of your hotel. Millennials are much less likely to be interested in staying at the Ritz Carlton; they’d rather stay someplace quirky and cool if it helps them budget for an immersive and cheap vacation.

By following these steps, you can ensure that your hotel stays on the cutting edge of marketing to the hip new generation. The hospitality industry is more competitive now than ever, and it’s vital to keep ahead of the game — your competitors are already marketing to millennials, and you’ll want to make sure that your hotel is staying relevant. By actively reaching out to millennials, you can guarantee that your hotel will attract business from members of their generation, and from the generation that comes after that.