How Hotel Marketers Can Improve Hotel Guest Experiences
When guests visit your hotel, you want them to have the kind of exceptional experience that doesn’t just make them want to come back; it makes them brand advocates. In this article, we focus on simple strategies hotel marketers can employ for improving hotel guest experiences and earning guest loyalty.
1. Provide the Right Services
One way to ensure you’re meeting customer expectations is to pay attention to trends in the hospitality industry, including the types of hotel services guests ask for on a routine basis. For example, today's customers are used to accessing free wireless internet wherever they go. If you're still charging a fee for that access in your hotel rooms, it’s bound to leave a sour taste in their mouths.
Likewise, it’s important to evaluate your offerings in relation to your primary demographics and actively seek feedback from guests. For example, do you cater to families that may need a high chair or portable crib for their room? Do you have customers who regularly ask about streaming media services? If your guests tend to stay several nights at a time, do you provide coffee makers, refrigerators, and microwaves in the room to make the longer stays more comfortable? The better you’re able to proactively meet guests’ expectations, the more you’ll build guest loyalty.
2. Confirm the Stay and Provide Vital Information at the Same Time
Do you have great restaurants within walking distance of your hotel? What amenities does the hotel offer on site? Do you have ready access to local theme parks, shopping, or other tourist attractions? Your guests are likely planning activities around their vacations or trying to make sure they don’t miss the “highlights” while visiting. Helping them enjoy their time in your community adds to the enjoyment of their hotel stay.
To facilitate this, when you confirm reservations via email, include useful information about the area as well as links that make it easy to look further into their options. Additionally, if you have collected information from guest surveys that indicate restaurants or amenities they enjoyed, it’s helpful to share those recommendations with future guests. For example, you might share, “Our guests consistently recommend the downtown farmer’s market as a must-do,” or “guests say they appreciate the healthy options we include on the breakfast buffet.”
Sharing this type of information may also encourage future guests to do the same. They may be more inclined to complete surveys because you’ve shown your interest in sharing guest experiences. And they may make their own recommendations to other guests on surveys or in reviews they post.
Of course, both reservation confirmations and recommendations are only useful if your customers actually get them—and that requires capturing accurate email addresses during the reservation process. Ensure this by using BriteVerify email verification solutions, including an API you can use with your reservation system or embed in web lead forms. This will verify the email addresses entered in real time, which will prevent typos during guest entry to keep you from communicating effectively. It will also help ensure you have accurate,deliverable email addresses to use for follow-up after checkout.
As you continue to build a database of past guests or create a loyalty program, you can regularly check the accuracy and deliverability of the email addresses in your database using BriteVerify email list verification services.
3. Anticipate Customer Needs
With a quick look at your guests' reservations, you can go along way toward anticipating their needs and having those items available when they check in. For example, if you see that a family of five has reserved a room, you can anticipate that they'll need extra blankets or pillows. If the weather is bad outside, consider keeping umbrellas by the door to the lobby so that customers can transport their luggage inside without getting quite so wet.
Do your occupancy rates soar with business guests when a major convention is in town? Consider supplying guests with as many details as you can that will help them get where they need to go, such as maps indicating the fastest walk to the convention center and nearby restaurants, recommendations for contacting car services, or a card that indicates the schedule for the shuttle service that runs between the hotel and event. Additionally, you might extend breakfast hours for earlier dining during the event to support those who need to get to the trade show floor earlier for setup, include signage in the lobby that welcomes guests for the event, or, when a corporate account is used to book several rooms, offer to include a welcome message from the corporation in each room.
By taking the time to anticipate guest needs, you can go above and beyond with memorable customer service.
4. Align Brand Strategy With Guest Experiences
If you want brand advocates, you’ll want to establish a strong and consistent brand identity—and that includes aligning marketing messages with guest experiences. For example, if your marketing campaigns promote an identity of luxury and pampering, but the guest fails to experience that at the property, you’ve set false expectations that may lead to the opposite of brand loyalty.
Likewise, if you present your hotel in marketing channels as lively, active, and colorful, but guests arrive to boring rooms, uninspired staff, and a lack of amenities, the experience won’t measure up to the expectation.
Instead, marry the message to the experience and be sure brand messaging is consistent across media channels. For example, your website shouldn’t evoke a different feeling than your email campaigns or social media messages provide. You’ll risk confusing potential guests, as they won’t know what to expect from a stay, as well as alienating the guests you disappoint when you don’t deliver on what you promised.
5. Offer Small Touches
Remember the last time you went on a cruise and returned to your cabin to see hand towels folded into fun shapes? It put a smile on your face every time you returned to the cabin. These types of touches make a memorable difference. And it doesn’t have to be towels in the shape of an elephant, a mint or chocolate placed on the pillow, or fresh flowers in guest rooms.
Sometimes it’s something as simple as offering free bottles of water in the room, putting out freshly baked cookies in the lobby area, offering 24 hour coffee and juice in the breakfast room, or giving guests the option of grabbing an express continental breakfast as they check out when they don’t have time to sit down for the breakfast that’s included with their stay.
These experiences leave lasting impressions. One guest fondly remembers being thrilled when housekeeping noticed she used the entire bottle of complimentary conditioner the first morning and put extras on the counter each subsequent day so she wouldn’t run out. And there was the time her father fell in love with the four white chocolate Lindt truffles that were provided on arrival for guests who were part of a timeshare program. He loved them so much, he wasn’t embarrassed to chase down housekeeping to ask if he could have a few more. They cheerfully gave him a handful. For the rest of the guest’s stay, the housekeeping staff brought six to eight truffles to the room every day specifically for him.
Some touches don’t even need to be free. Consider the hotels that offer small marketplaces with microwaveable snacks and entrees, packaged salads and sandwiches, treats, cookies, and snacks for sale. What they’re offering is convenience and it goes a long way in making guests happy.
6. Follow Up After Guest Stays
After guests leave, leverage marketing automation technology to send a thank you for their stay and a follow up survey via email. Since you verified their email address on the reservation form, you'll be able to easily connect with them. Ask about the best parts of their stay and how they would improve the service they received. This is a great opportunity to make things up to customers who didn't have a great experience or find out how to make things better for your guests in the future. By listening to customer feedback, you can identify ways to reshape the guest experience in meaningful ways.
You might also use future email communications as an opportunity to invite them to join your loyalty or rewards program, encourage them to write a review, or send them special offers for repeat guests.
For more information on how you can better connect with customers by ensuring the accuracy of your email lists, contact us today.