The importance of guest experience in the world of hospitality is rising at a high pace. To be successful and remain competitive, hotels must provide an excellent experience rather than just reaching the basic level of expectations. Your hotel has to provide a stay beyond the guest’s hopes. So how do we achieve that? What do guests long for? This article will answer all your questions, but first things first.
What is guest experience?
Simply put, the guest experience is the overall satisfaction of your hotel’s guests before, during and after their stay. More explicitly it means that at each stage of their stay certain aspects create an emotional reaction, which helps customers determine if the experience reaches their expectations. During this process, a decision, whether to also recommend your hotel to fellow travellers is made.
These groundbreaking aspects can be anything from a simple booking and a quick check-in pre-stay experience to a smiling and helpful staff member at the hotel lobby during the stay.
Why is it important?
In the present-day digitalised world, hospitality in general relies on online reputation. Travellers research and make their decisions based on reviews and pictures more than ever before.
Increase guest satisfaction
According to Tripadvisor’s statistics, up to 81% of travellers frequently read reviews before booking a place to stay, with 78% focusing on the most recent reviews. Furthermore, the top reason (87%) for people writing reviews is simply to share good experiences with fellow travellers.
For this reason, complying with travellers’ needs and expectations is the most important thing to do. Satisfied guests contribute to your hotel’s positive reputation management and boost revenue through referrals and repeat business.
Keeping your customers happy is the key factor in bringing in new potential guests. According to a study by Bain & Company, acquiring a new customer can cost 25-95% more without satisfied guests. Focusing on guest experience increases guest satisfaction which as a result creates long-lasting relationships with the right customers, brings in new ones and keeps your costs down.
How to achieve an excellent guest experience?
Top-notch guest experience can be achieved by truly understanding the emotional journey map and analysing how to make each touch point pleasant and easy for them. If you don’t have one, make one: here’s some help with that! https://guestjoy.com/blog/emotional-journey-mapping—what-is-it-and-how-you-should-do-it/(opens in a new tab)
Once you have found the positive experiences that seem to work, it’s time to evaluate the outcome. Ask for feedback, consider it and create a loyal relationship with the customer.
The 3 main components of the guest experience
The key to enhancing the customer experience is to concentrate on those 3 components also known as “the three C’s:”
Your guests long to be heard, informed and taken into consideration. Good communication skills by your staff and contact options in your hotel allow you to listen to your guests’ needs, answer questions and solve problems and value their feedback. Guests will be more open when they feel connected, which leads to better guest experiences and customer loyalty.
Try enhancing your communication by
- sending a detailed pre-arrival email to simplify the check-in process.
- Encourage your guests to get in touch either at the property or online by making it easy for them.
- answering their questions and solving problems quickly.
- thanking them for staying with you, asking for detailed feedback and considering it.
Read about the importance of the hotel’s external and internal communication here (link to article)
Guests are becoming more and more time-poor. Doesn’t matter if it’s a business trip and working or holidays and spending days discovering the area. Guests need convenience, they need a worry-free stay.
Try enhancing your guests’ convenience by
- providing a self-check-in option and having a ‘skip the queue’ key pick-up desk.
- working together with local tour guides and restaurants to save guests some time with research.
- provide a transfer from an airport.
- include a special requests section when booking a room so that you can provide essential amenities for each type of traveller.
The highly competitive hotel industry is constantly raising the bar for guest experience and therefore a big part, if not the most important one of it, is now personalisation. Giving each customer choices to create their stay according to their expectations and helping them experience the place the way they want to, is the real key to your guest’s heart. This also allows you to show that you care about your customer and the things they care about.
Try giving your guests more options by
- offering personalised packages (for example spa treatments for bleisure travellers, tour buses for Boomers, local food/drink tasting experiences for Millennials or Gen Z travellers etc.)
- Let your guests decide when they need housekeeping (a sign of environmental sustainability).
- asking about any special occasions.
- having different ways to contact the hotel staff (telephones in the rooms for older guests, online self-service for the younger crowd.)
Other notable points of creating an excellent guest experience are:
- Clean and tidy hotel
- Safe and secure
- Aesthetic and comfortable
- Electric sockets and lamps next to the bed
- Noise control
- Helpful attitude by staff members
- Fast service time
- Good value for money
- Provide free and fast Wi-Fi
- Share clear directions about getting around the property and the local area
Know your customers to provide an experience exceeding their expectations: the types of guests
When in the process of working with the three C’s, it is also important to know your main crowd and audience to enhance the experience towards their profiles’ desirable preferences. Different profiles are attracted by various styles of hotels and that’s why it’s crucial to know which ones your place already appeals to. And then make it better!
- Born between 1946-1964.
- A few longer trips a year.
- They often have a higher travel budget and more time to spend.
- More likely to unplug their phones and communicate in person.
- They are after an authentic local experience through food and culture.
- More likely to book sightseeing tours with pick up and drop off through hotels.
- Like going for loyalty programs.
- Born between 1981-1995.
- They make up 31% of the world’s population with an estimated 200 billion dollar spending power.
- More likely to book shorter vacations with different destinations to fit working schedules and see more places.
- Technology users – booking trips and researching.
- They want to experience a new culture.
- Like sharing their travels online.
- They get inspired by social media posts, mostly Facebook, Pinterest and Twitter.
- Gen Z
- Born between 1996-2010.
- Technology users and less likely to unplug.
- Like doing their research based on others’ experiences.
- Don’t like sightseeing that feels too touristy and tend to not visit insta famous places.
- Desire flexibility.
- Eager to learn and experience local life.
- Budget-conscious, but ready to spend more if it means experiencing something special.
- Environmental consciousness – they appreciate sustainable choices.
- Business or bleisure travellers
- Travelling for one purpose: work.
- Their days are long and full of meetings.
- Interested in restaurants and cafes with a calm working atmosphere.
- Need a high level of convenience and comfort when coming back to the hotel to rest.
- Bleisure travellers also make time for leisure activities and might extend their business trip into a long weekend to see the sights.
- Slightly more millennials than boomers are doing multi-generational travels.
- Mainly doing research and booking online (74% in the past 5 years).
- They want to have shared experiences.
- Prefer to have a learning element in their travels.
- Tend to choose hotels that have kid-friendly programs/amenities and events.
- The main goal is to book a place where everyone is entertained and happy
- Wellness travellers
- Mostly females between 18-34.
- They travel to take a break from stressful everyday life or to boost their physical and mental health.
- They find retreats via Google search, friend referrals and Instagram posts.
- Mental health is ranked as the top wellness priority.
- Also interested in working out and other wellness options.
- Environmentally conscious – sustainability influences their decisions.
- Prefer all-inclusive packages – they want to switch off from their everyday life of making decisions.
Guest experience is a hospitality business’s main indicator of quality service. To remain relevant, it can’t be anything else than excellent. Polishing your hotel’s ability to deliver a top-class guest experience can be done by knowing your customer, understanding their needs and style of travelling and giving them what they expect at every touchpoint they have with you, from pre-arrival to post-stay. Exceptional guest experiences also launch a positive cycle of high guest satisfaction and a good online reputation which in turn will lead to more new and repeat business while keeping the costs down.