This post was written by Andrew Martin, GuestJoy’s Customer Experience Manager
It started with an email from one customer.
“Andrew, four of our properties have been awarded Travellers’ Choice 2021 from Tripadvisor; they have provided us with some graphics to use in our marketing. Can you suggest how we could incorporate these into our pre-arrival emails?”
Next, there was a post by a customer on LinkedIn: “Honored and proud! Apotek Hotel has been chosen as the “Travellers’ Choice” Winner for 2021.”
“Well that’s really good!”, I remember thinking to myself at the time. It was nice to see a some customers earn this recognition.
A few more popped up over the next couple of days – but this trickle soon turned into a flood 🌊
I decided that I needed to find out just how many of our customers had won. Cue a lot of manual work, but work that turned out to be well worth it.
In total, a staggering 70% of our customers earned this award across 23 countries. This. Is. HUGE.
2 of our customers were even listed in the top 25 hotels in Europe. Wow. WOW.
What is the Travellers’ Choice designation?
To begin with, in Tripadvisor’s own words:
Travel in 2020 looked different, to say the least. We stayed a little closer to home, hit the open road, took to the great outdoors, and saw our own hometowns in a new light. And millions of travellers everywhere shared reviews and opinions based on those places and moments that left an impression.
Our Travellers’ Choice Best of the Best list is drawn from the experiences of the best experts possible: Real travellers who’ve been there before.
From family resorts to boutique charmers: the highest-rated stays around the world.Tripadvisor
So in every market, Tripadvisor digs through all of their reviews. Only the properties with happiest guests, posting the best reviews, will earn the designation of Travellers’ Choice.
What it means to be a Travellers’ Choice winner after 2020
Tripadvisor said it well: “Travel in 2020 looked different, to say the least”. Hotels needed to pivot and fundamentally adjust how they operate if they were to survive. Sadly, not everyone made it. We lost a few long-term customers to closure and bankruptcy.
“…the first guests to return became messengers. They were the barometer to all other potential guests as to whether they felt the hotel had “got it right” via the reviews they would leave.”
But for those who managed to keep trading, getting it right was going to make or break their business. Travellers would decide if they felt comfortable; if the measures put in place at a property gave them confidence, and that they were still able to enjoy their stay. And this would be reflected in the reviews that they posted on Tripadvisor.
Enter: GuestJoy, and the complete guest experience
Staff are wearing masks. There’s a perspex panel at the reception desk between guests and staff. Cleaning regimes have changed. All these changes are vital – but equally so is the guest experience, and GuestJoy proved itself pivotal for our customers and their guests.
Throughout 2020, timely, effective guest communication became absolutely crucial as situations changed and evolved from day to day. Hoteliers using GuestJoy had complete control of how they kept their guests informed – and it all happens automatically – as soon as a reservation is made.
Prior to arrival
The moment guests make their booking, they receive a confirmation email which is able to be customised with the content the hotelier wants them to see. This is a big step up from boring, plain-text emails, or emails where hotels can’t customise the content (or worse – both!), usually sent by the PMS.
Guests choose hotels over short-stay accommodation for a reason – the opportunity to take advantage of little luxuries and experiences they might not have access to in their day-to-day life. But with the onset of the pandemic, a lot of the offers hotels might have presented their guests were often no longer possible. Hoteliers needed to innovate and provide guests with unique ways that they could enhance their stay.
And innovate they did! In 2020, we saw so many hotels coming up with new upsell and cross-sell possibilities for their guests, despite most of them needing to adhere to strict rules and guidelines. Through GuestJoy, guests were able to customise their stay with ultra-personalised offers and upgrades presented by their hotel. Almost ironically, many hotels using GuestJoy had some of their best upsell figures ever.
One of the biggest changes to hospitality in 2020 was the increased adoption of contactless check-in solutions. GuestJoy had offered online check-in for over a year by that point, but the pandemic was the catalyst the hospitality sector needed to finally move forward, and most hotels will not be going back.
Needless to say, guests have loved checking in online as well. A fast, safe arrival, without needing to stand in (now socially-distanced) queues is no longer just a nice thing – it’s an expectation. After all, we’ve been checking in online for our flights for years now; why shouldn’t it be the same at hotels?
Hoteliers discovered they too loved the efficiency of online check-in. The average guest spends 8 minutes at reception completing their check-in – and this doesn’t include time spent standing in lines. This meant that over the course of a day, many labour hours were saved.
GuestJoy’s check-in form is completely customisable, so that hoteliers can collect any information they need. Passport/ID scans, digital signature, data for accompanying guests, credit card details, terms and conditions, and any question they could think of – this endless flexibility is now so popular, that submitting check-in data is now the number one action completed on the GuestJoy platform 😮
I’ve seen so many ways that hotels have adapted to the changing conditions over the past 15 months. One of the most impressive were hotels who used GuestJoy to provide a digital guest compendium.
Understandably, the guest compendium is a complex cleaning touch point. It would take a lot of time to effectively disinfect; and guests might not even be confident that the compendium was clean, and avoid using it. Again, another example of hospitality adopting technology for the good of everyone, and many of our hotels will not be switching back.
During-stay feedback became more important than ever during 2020. Being able to reach out to guests throughout their stay to check if everything is going well provides hoteliers with an opportunity to potentially resolve issues while the guest is still at the property. Naturally, this is much better than finding out about said issues in the form of a bad review once the guest has left.
This is the stage of the guest journey that became far more important last year.
Many hotels closed for a period, either due to government-mandated shutdowns, or such had low occupancy that it made no sense to trade at all.
Once hotels began to reopen, the first guests to return became messengers. They were the barometer to all other potential guests as to whether they felt the hotel had “got it right” via the reviews they would leave. These reviews in turn heavily influenced the choice that subsequent guests would make when choosing which property they would book.
This is where GuestJoy’s post-stay feedback emails proved invaluable.
It’s one thing to have a happy guest – but will they let others know about it? Thanking guests for their stay, and then inviting them to complete the Tripadvisor review right out of the GuestJoy email made it simple for guests to leave their opinions.
And remember, that’s how Travellers’ Choice is awarded – a high number of positive reviews posted. And almost all of GuestJoy’s customers collect more Tripadvisor reviews via GuestJoy than submitted to Tripadvisor directly!
70% of our customers being designated as Travellers’ Choice is absolutely amazing to hear, but at the same time, we cannot say we are shocked about it. The reason is because GuestJoy truly covers the entire guest experience.
Having separate systems in place at a hotel to cover everything that GuestJoy does will inevitably lead a poor guest experience; one that is jarring and frustrating.
Picture it yourself: You book your hotel stay and receive a bland email confirming your reservation. The hotel has already missed its chance to make a good first impression.
Next, you are prompted to enhance your stay with another email – one that looks completely different from the first. You’re taken into a new environment that you need to learn in order to customise your stay.
You get notified that you can check-in online, which is great; but once again, the notification you receive bears no resemblance to the others you’ve previously received. You may even start to question which of these are genuinely from the hotel you’re staying at.
Finally, you start the check-in process, only to be presented with another new environment to figure out how to navigate.
Once your stay is complete, yet another email – different from the previous ones, of course – asks how your stay was.
Do you want to force that upon your guest?
I’d hazard a guess and say no.
And that’s not even taking into consideration the time involved to set up, train staff, and maintain each of those separate systems, let alone pay for them.
Finally, any system that only serves one purpose in this day and age is going to be redundant very soon. It just makes good sense to cover everything in one comprehensive platform.
An expected outcome
I mentioned earlier how I was happy but not at all shocked that so many of our hotels earned the Travellers’ Choice 2021 designation.
To me, it is a sign that GuestJoy is merely doing what it says on the box. It’s helping hoteliers around the world to provide their guests with a complete experience. One that isn’t over-the-top with tech gimmickry, yet makes everything so easy and accessible.
To our customers who earned this accolade, I’d like to congratulate you all. You’re doing exactly what you should be doing, and your guests have recognised you for that.
Some companies claim – rather baselessly – to be the number 1 in their field.
We’d rather just let the numbers speak for themselves 🙂📈