The Worst Hotel

The idea of the Worst Hotel ever struck us when we were brainstorming about how to better show our customers how they get the most out of their upselling and guest communication. So we invented The Worst Hotel, to illustrate how can these be done the worst, with all the possible mistakes, so you can learn from other hotel’s mistakes.

The Worst is a three-star hotel, but they surely don’t deserve any of that. When you booked, you did not receive any information. On the website there is something about a restaurant and in-room massages, which you’d love to buy, but no information about how to purchase it.

There are cockroaches in the room, hair in the sink and the glass in your bathroom has lipstick stains.

If you’d like to have breakfast, it costs extra, but there are no vegan options (OMG) and the coffee tastes like at a gas station. But when you go down to the reception to complain about all this, you find it empty. After ringing the bell, a rude and grumpy staff member will show up, claiming nothing that you have experienced is The Worst’s fault.

So what could this hotel do better? Besides the obvious things, like hiring a cleaning lady, and a competent receptionist they could also start upselling and communicating with the guest properly. Let’s start with the first form of guest communication, the pre-stay email. The Worst hotel decided to do the following:

what NOT to do when communicating with hotel guests

The first thing you probably notice is that it’s a big block of text in tiny letters. It’s 2020, people do not read anymore. Especially not these emails. The Worst Hotel should only include the most important information in the email trying to keep it as short as possible.

What else is bad?

1.) Too much contact information, the guests can anyways reach you because they probably received a booking confirmation, or by answering to this email, or you could have a cool footer where you include your reception phone number and an email address.

2.) Your guests are most definitely already knowledgeable about this because when they decided to book your hotel these weighed in their options.

3.) This is a perfect example upselling done wrong. Instead of having a separate ”site’ where you explain your services in detail with the exact price and some pictures, The Worst just decided to drop this bit of info. Probably nobody will be enticed to buy the massages if they are marketed like this.

Keep it short, your guests only want to recieve a warm welcome with the necessary information and not War & Peace

4.) All the information here could easily be put on the website, only certain guests need to know this and they will ask. Secondly, maybe don’t patronize your guests and assume they don’t know how to behave.

5.) This is information the guest does not need to know pre-arrival and even if they are interested in, they can search for it very easily on their smartphone. This takes up a lot of space and makes the letter longer than necessary.

6.) Upselling! this all could be on the Worst’s upselling page as an offer. The information would look better in the booking confirmation mail.

7.) It’s obvious, everyone always has an ID on them, because we all legally obliged to.

Now, how about the Worst’s upselling?

You receive a letter that shows some offers like this:

Do these seem appealing to you?

Not too shabby, you think. There is a restaurant and a beverage room service. However, there is no link to the restaurant’s website, nor any explanation on what they serve. You just see a plain photo of the actual place, not the food that you will be getting. How disappointing…

Because you are travelling with your partner the champagne delivered to your room seems interesting, it would be such a nice surprise for them, but it’s so plain… could the hotel also add some bonbons? Or maybe a small cake?

Umm… they look the same for me, and probably for your guests too

It would be so nice to take a taxi from the airport to the hotel! How much will it be? Nobody knows and just to see an estimate would make you feel a lot better about ordering it.

Also, there are two taxi offers, which one to take? Oh, yeah, they are for different number of people. Why have two offers though when you can just have one, and set the price to increase by the number of people? Or select different type of cars?

Hotel guests are people, and people dont read anymore

A Sauna offer, wonderful! It’s a great option to relax, as the advertisers at the Worst have said it about 3-4 times in the above text. It also tells you a lot of extra information that you already know – therefore, it’s useless and takes up a lot of space. If you had the energy and time to actually read this offer you would learn such obvious pieces of information as there are chairs to relax at the sauna area, and that it is open during normal hours (who goes to the sauna at 4 a.m? maybe some crazy Estonians). But it’s 2020, and nobody really reads these long texts anymore.

Include information that makes the offer seem valuable and is needed for booking.

While the last offer does not actually require the guests to pay The Worst did not lose much due to the sloppy advertisement, however, with a spa option for payment, it could have been a dealbreaker for some.

What should The Worst do?

Some key takeaways for them would be to think about when is the information needed and when is it unnecessary. Overloading guests with text will just encourage them to skip reading it, and even missing the crucial bits.

What to do when information is needed?
Consider when is it appropriate to present it to your guests and in what format. Do they need to know it months/weeks before their arrival? Or is it enough to tell them a couple of days before? Then think about the format: should it be in an email (booking confirmation or pre-stay)? Or is it better if its simply on your website and those who are interested in it can look for it?

We live in a world where we are overloaded with information at such a fast pace that it is getting harder to process it all. Sticking to just the essentials is key here.

If you need tips on how to communicate with your guests better, read some of our articles:
Common mistakes with upselling
Ultimate and Revolutionary upselling tricks
How to communicate with Booking.com emails

Today’s post was written by Andrew Martin – GuestJoy’s Customer Experience Manager

  I have a confession to make. It isn’t easy to admit it in this sector but… I’m an Airbnb traveler.

Airbnb

The forbidden logo

  There. I said it. Please don’t judge me too quickly! I use Airbnb when I travel for leisure. For me, it’s about simplicity and convenience. I want to stay somewhere central, cheap, and basic. When I travel for leisure, all I want is a place to sleep at night, and I am out and about discovering during the day. I don’t want your upsell! During the holiday I had in Spain in April, I visited Barcelona, Valencia, and Madrid. In all 3 cities, my wife and I sought somewhere to stay in the best location possible so that we wouldn’t lose any time making our way to the sites we wanted to visit. But this was not the only way that I travel. In my previous role, I had to do a lot of travel. The length of stays ranged from a night to a week, and when I was on those trips, my guest persona changed. Suddenly, I was happy to spend some of my own money on upsell offers, because I wasn’t paying a cent for the trip! The same goes when I was on my honeymoon, which was a 3 week trip around Japan. Was I trying to put a smile on my wife’s face with surprises and experiences on that trip? You bet I was! And the majority of what I spent was with the hotels we were staying at.

Know the personas at your hotel

There is probably a wide range of types of guests who stay at your property. Naturally, some types will stay with you more than others. When it comes to upselling, these are the guests you are most likely to target. Let’s choose a few common guest personas before we go any further: Couples on holiday: They feel as though they’ve earned themselves a break, and part of that includes staying at your hotel. It might even be their first trip away without the kids! Celebrators: These guests love the idea of staying in a hotel as part of birthdays, anniversaries, etc. They’re always looking for ways to make their stay more memorable. Wealthy retirees: They’ve worked hard, the nest is empty, and now enjoying themselves is their prerogative. The subconscious motto of “We’ve earned it!” drives them to spend more on a special experience while at your hotel. Knowing the guest personas at your hotel allows you to formulate offers that really appeal to their needs or desires. This should be any hotel’s priority when it comes to creating an upsell strategy. But determining what you intend to sell is only the first step. Today, hotels need to do more than just present guests with a product or service that they might be interested in.

Think about why many guests choose a hotel over an Airbnb

Remember before, when I was sheepishly confessing to you my preference for Airbnb when I travel? That’s all well and good for me. But for a hotelier, the advent of Airbnb and its competitors has taken a chunk out of hotel revenue. Your revenue. And they did it because they saw a segment of travelers who weren’t really interested in extra products or services. Here’s a quick hypothetical: How many Airbnb travelers have ever ordered a bottle of Prosecco? How many of them upgraded their room? Did any of them ever book a dinner in the Airbnb’s restaurant? We know, of course, that none of this has ever happened – because that isn’t why they stay at an Airbnb property. The same logic can be applied to a large proportion of your guests: Many of them choose to stay in a hotel because they want the hotel experience. They want to feel cared for; they want the chance to enhance their stay; they want to be able to rely on your services. This is where hotels need to cement the biggest advantage they have over Airbnb.

Don’t sell a product or service; sell an experience.

Upsell gets harder the moment you forget to target the experience. Now, more than ever, it’s vital to connect with your guests’ emotions in order to engage them and foster the urge to buy. As the old adage goes; “Don’t sell a stay – sell a memory!”. With that in mind, we’re going to look at how to package your offers in a way that appeals to guest’s heart.

Prosecco: The current queen of in-room drink orders

At the moment it’s hard to beat the popularity of these Italian bubbles (Bonus tip: The new king will be Cava – be ready!). But even this humble beverage can be helped by selling the experience rather than the bottle itself. Selling the product: The good: The guest knows exactly what they’ll get, I suppose? The bad: It’s about as interesting as reading up on income tax laws. The image is purely utilitarian. Selling the experience: The good: The description empathizes with the guest’s arduous journey and invites them to relax and enjoy their favorite sparkling white. The offer name is charming and the image used humanizes the experience; the guest is relieved to have that glass in her hand. The bad: …Your staff will be busier fulfilling all those orders for Prosecco? If that’s at all a bad thing?

Packaging offers to sell more

The concept of the “Extra Value Meal”, a set combination of menu items, was created by one McDonald’s restaurant manager in 1991. Sales at that McDonald’s increased dramatically, as customers didn’t need to stare at dozens of items on a menu board to figure out what they wanted. This same concept works for experiences in your hotel. It’s one thing to sell a room upgrade with extras; another thing entirely to sell a package as an experience. Let’s have a look now:

Upgrade the experience – not just the room

Let’s now look at our Celebrators. The fact they are already at our hotel to mark a special occasion is already enough to know that they will be interested in enhancing their stay. And, what better way to do that by upgrading not only their room, but their whole experience? Selling the products/services: The good: Not much, honestly. The bad: Guests won’t be excited or emotionally involved after reading such a description. Selling the experience: The good: The emotional connection will be made, because the description focuses on the experience and the benefits of the package, rather than just describing each part of it. The bad: We didn’t have a better image to display, but I’m sure you can picture the scene with the cake and Champagne being displayed in the higher category room.

The Wealthy Retirees

These couples are more than willing to spend more when they stay in hotels, but only if you sell the right experience. They want high-quality experiences, and your offer should be written accordingly. Let’s see what the difference is: Selling the products: The good: Honestly, there is basically nothing good about this offer. We’ll explain: The bad: Starting with the image. Guests don’t need to see a picture of your restaurant; they’ve probably seen one somewhere already. Instead, show your guests the food they will be served! Whet their appetite with a simple image. Next, the offer title. It’s alright, I suppose; but it could definitely be improved. Then, reading the description – what’s the big mistake here? No information about the actual dishes! And zero effort to sell it as an experience. Let’s see how it can be improved. Selling the experience: The good: We’ve got a lot to list here!

  • The image is bright and attractive, and actually shows one of the dishes
  • The offer title is in French. It seems so simple, but ask almost anybody which language they associate with fine dining, and French comes to mind more often than not.
  • The language used in the description appeals directly to the guests: curates a new dining experience; focuses on high-quality local produce; 3 sumptuous courses; your dining experience; excellent local wines. These are the key phrases that our target demographic will react to most when deciding if they want to book their table.
  • The dishes are actually listed! The guest knows what they will get!

The bad: What do you think?

How to convert some of your offers into experiences

Now, not every offer can be described as an experience. Just how sexy can we make an airport transfer look?! However, it’s always worth having as many offers as practically possible which sell the experience the guest wants to have. Fortunately, you don’t need to be a marketing genius to do it. Just follow these simple guidelines:

Simplify the language

  • Try not to go into too much detail about the offer or the components of each offer. Remember – enough is as good as a feast!
  • Focus on the benefits of the experience, rather than the offer, or components of the offer.

“Humanise” the offer

  • Use conversational language – don’t just write a dry list of things the guest will get.
  • Use the appropriate tone for your hotel and target guests. Be mindful of the tone of your words, whether you involve humor, or keep things high class, and so on. Decide how you’d like guests to perceive your hotel, and write using a tone that instills that perception in the mind of your guests.

Don’t be afraid to be creative

Remember, your guests are at your hotel because they want the hotel experience. How creative can you get with what you offer them? Test out new ideas and see what clicks with them, and what doesn’t.

We are the experts in selling experiences.

If you’ve had a mini-epiphany after reading this, but are not sure where to start – talk to us! We’re more than just a software company. We’re experts in helping hotels master upsell strategies like this and increase revenue. But more importantly, we’re great at helping you connect with your guests. So… What are you selling?