Fostering the hotel guest experience: considering the customer experience journey
Guest blog post by Preno: powerful, user-friendly hotel management software
For any business owner, keeping customers happy is vital. We have all heard the expression “the customer is always right”, and there's a reason for this – unhappy customers, equate to an unhappy business (i.e. decrease in sales, negative word of mouth, diminished returns, etc.).
For the tourism and hospitality industries, the guest experience is the first and foremost priority for operators. If you’re a hotel owner, your mission is to provide the best guest experience possible.
Smiling at each guest engagement during their stay is just the beginning! The guest (customer) experience must be perfect, and memorable (in a positive sense), from the moment a guest reads or hears about your hotel, to the moment they check out, and beyond.
In order to advance your property beyond competitors, you must create the perfect customer experience journey for your guests. Following are a few tips to help you achieve this.
A timeline of the hotel guest journey (with tips)
Keep a smile on your guests face from the moment they discover your property
Step 1: A new guest discovers your hotel property
Your first point of contact with your hotel guest is when they first discover that your property exists. It might be that they found you via research, recommendation by a travel agent, or perhaps word of mouth, or a social forum post by a friend.
This step is crucial, and it usually stems from other guest experiences – i.e. hotel reviews and word of mouth. It just shows how the guest experience makes a full circle, impacting whether you increase your guest reach, and convert this into room sales, or not.
Tip 1: Never underestimate the power of hotel word of mouth
Step 2: A new guest researches your hotel property
The second point of contact in the customer experience journey, is the guests research of your property. This includes all of the information out there about your business – social media, advertising, online review sites, and your website.
Take your hotel website for instance – you could consider this as your virtual hotel reception. Just as you wouldn’t have an untidy hotel reception, with unhelpful staff, you shouldn’t have an untidy website with confusing content. This impacts a guests opinion of how professional your hotel is, and therefore how great (or not) they expect a stay with you to be.
Tip 2: Ensure your hotel website & advertising reflects the experience you offer
Step 3: Your guest books a stay at your hotel property
Following the discovery and research stage, if a guest is impressed with your reviews and how you promote yourself, they will hopefully proceed to book a stay with you.
In this stage, it is absolutely crucial that it is both easy and fast to make a booking. This will relate to the hotel software you are using – i.e. your booking engine (for direct website bookings) and your channel manager (for OTA bookings). On your website, your booking button should be easy to navigate, and fast to load. You should also be listed on all major OTAs (online travel agents such as Booking.com and Expedia).
Tip 3: Ensure you are using a powerful booking engine and channel manager
Step 4: Your guest stays at your hotel property
The most important part of the customer experience journey, is, of course, when a guest comes to stay with you. From the moment they step in your reception doors, to the moment they step out, you must ensure that every little detail is perfect.
From guest friendliness, to exceptional services, to going the extra mile – your guest expects a certain level of service, and the best thing you can do for your hotel property, is to exceed this. Consistently impress your guests their entire stay with you (and every step before and after).
Tip 4: Exceed guest expectations, and provide the best experience possible
Step 5: Your guest reviews your hotel property
The final step in the customer experience journey is what comes after a guest’s stay with you. This comes in the form of word of mouth, and in written reviews. If a guest has a particularly amazing (or a particularly awful) stay with you, it is very likely that they will share this with other travellers.
This is why it is so important to do everything you can to provide a seamless guest experience. It is of course understandable however, that things can occasionally go wrong. So if something breaks a positive customer experience journey, be sure to rectify this. First during the guests stay with you, and, if applicable, afterwards too (i.e. by replying to negative online hotel reviews).
Tip 5: Remain professional, and rectify negative guest experiences with appreciation
Take careful consideration through every step of the guest journey.
The guest experience journey starts from the moment a guest discovers your hotel – then, every moment thereafter.