This isn’t a new topic in the hospitality world. Rather, it’s a big focus. You might even remember a piece by our CMO, Patrick Reynolds from just a few months ago about Simple Ways Hotels Can Improve the Customer Experience and Maximize Profitability.
It’s pretty common for a guest to check in and check out before the hotel has even had the chance to engage with the guest throughout their stay. This is a missed opportunity to not only gain loyal customers, but also drive revenue. How can hotels avoid this? In this blog post we’ll walk through three steps to enhance the guest experience from the moment a guest checks in to check out.
1.Know your customers before they walk in
Think of check-in as an opportunity to get ahead with your guests. You may be dealing with a loyal guest who has high expectations, a guest who is coming back to give your property a second chance, or a new guest’s first on-premise interaction with your brand. No matter the situation, you should have the data in front of you. If a guest has stayed with you before, you can use that information to personalize their upcoming experience. Skift’s most recent The State of Business Travel 2020 Report highlights that 50.5% of Business Travelers say loyalty programs are important when it comes to booking their trip. In addition, when it comes to their experience, 22.3% of travelers say a big challenge of theirs is not having a late check out. If your guest is traveling for business, offer them a flexible check out. The point is, you want to make sure you’re rewarding loyal customers for coming back.
In contrast, if a guest who had an issue during their previous stay returns, welcome the person at check-in with an upgrade. If first-time guests are checking in, acknowledge that with a small welcome gift, whether it be chocolates, or champagne. Little gestures go a long way, and all it takes is using you customer data!
2. Leverage mobile
You nailed the check in experience, but now, it’s time for the real test. Engage your guests in a way throughout their stay that not only enhances their overall experience, but also makes them want to come back. No pressure 😉 Whether your guest is on premise or off, they will most likely have their mobile device, which you can use to your advantage. In the end, you want to incentivize them to do more with you. Saturday afternoon? How about a limited time offer on a spa service. Saturday night? Send a push notification about the specials at your hotel restaurant with the option to reserve a table. Sunday morning? How about a note about extending his stay, or a special rate for booking another trip.
In addition to push, SMS or in-app notifications, mobile can be a tool for hotels to streamline services to help guests. All of their questions can be answered in near real-time (which boosts customer service). On another level, you could take a note out of Caesars Entertainment’s book and offer on-demand mobile delivery for food while at certain locations in the hotel, like the pool or lobby that can be charged to their room. With how accustomed customers are to using delivery services like UberEats, Postmates, etc, this is a smart move by Caesars.
3. Don’t stop there
You made it to check out! In one sense you’re almost done. I know I titled this blog post Enhancing the Guest Experience from Check-In to Check-Out, but in order to really enhance loyalty and drive ROI, it doesn’t stop there. In reality, when a guest leaves your property, that doesn’t mean you’re done! It’s all about retention. As we’ve said before, it costs five times more to acquire a new customer than retain an existing one. Reach out post-check out to not only thank a guest for staying, but also for any feedback to make sure you know how to optimize their next visit. Take a look at the person’s data and what they did while on premise. Utilizing their previous experience to inform their next one is the key to building a powerful retention strategy.
Of course for all of this to happen, the first challenge to overcome in hospitality is data latency, and the lack of connection with customers due to disconnected systems. So, before you do anything else, the first step is to unify all of your data so you can deliver a more personalized and seamless experience. From there, the three steps above should be a piece of cake! Whether it is the initial (big) step, or the three above, SessionM is happy to help.