In the hospitality sector, guest satisfaction is of utmost importance. Bad reviews and tarnished brand reputation can ruin businesses in this industry. Hotels not only need to engage with customers during the stay but must also connect with them before and after the stay in order to form bonds. The hospitality sector only thrives on the customer satisfaction that it can offer and hence customer loyalty becomes significant. To gain the trust of customers, brands must engage with them and form a strong bond.Today we can categorize the industries in the hospitality sector into 2 categories. Ones that engage with their guests on social media and those don’t. According to recent studies conducted by Cornell Hospitality Summit which analyzed over 100 of the world's largest hotels, guests who are engaged and connected with on social media are three times more likely to return than those who are not contacted. It also found that customer engagement is best served by making sure that the basics and essentials are absolutely perfect. Errors and mistakes are understandable, but in the hospitality sector, some errors can damage the brand reputation beyond repair. Hotels today must constantly monitor customer reviews and service process in order to improve the efficiency of guest service. Mentioned below are some key guest engagement tactics that can guarantee customer satisfaction and deliver better on your ROIs.
- Punctuality in service and response- This is one of the most important things that the customers notice first. Be it the delivery of room service or the time taken to send a reply on twitter, being prompt and punctual in dealing with customers is the most important factor in acquiring the positive attention of the customer. If the customer has a negative experience or a mishap, then the hospitality executive's prime responsibility is to address the issue while the customer is still present in the shortest time possible. Studies have shown that hotels which respond to customers within 30 minutes ensure a 12x more likelihood of a return customer. If the time stretches to 2 hours, then the likelihood drops to 8x. It is 5.6x if the response time is within 12 hours.
- Establishing brand image on social media- Social media has turned into a wide-reaching and powerful platform for connecting with guests both before and after the stay to establish strong B2C relationships. Advocating aggressively for the hotel brand on social media, identifying the preferences and tastes of guests and advertising accordingly can help you bond with your customers. Also by incorporating social media influencers into the picture, studies have indicated that hotel brands have an average viewership of 52,000 for every guest that was connected with. This was 5.3x times more than those who did not connect with the guests on social media. The study also indicates that guests who come across relevant hospitality content are 2.5x times likely to share the content with their friends and followers thus amassing increasing number of viewership for the brands.
- Experiment with the lobby experience- The lobby or the waiting area is most commonly deemed as a mundane waiting area where the guests are “parked” till the check-in or check-out processes are done with. However, the lobby presents the hospitality executives with some interesting opportunities to engage their customers. By hosting cultural events like music shows, art galleries, movie screenings and cultural discussion panels among others the lobby can be an exciting opportunity for guest engagement.
- Incorporating latest technologies- The way guests interact with the managers and lobby authorities is changing. By switching to latest technologies like tabs and smartphones, guests can now interact faster and make their concerns heard almost immediately. By allowing guests to order room service from the smartphone or by having check-in processes via a tab we are not only streamlining the process but are also creating a positive brand image.
So we can see that having the basic essentials of your business right is critical in engaging with customers. However, businesses must today go beyond the well-established paths and employ innovative techniques and customize their services to capture the attention of the customer. Your investments are only as good as the attention and praise the customer gives them.