Guest Experience

Designing the guest experience of the future

The goal of any hotelier is to provide a seamless guest experience. To make guests feel comfortable, happy, and looking forward to going back to that hotel. To achieve that, hoteliers need to know what guests want and expect.
Johanna Bernuy
Jan 20, 2023
8 min to read
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The goal of any hotelier is to provide a seamless guest experience. To make guests feel comfortable, happy, and looking forward to going back to that hotel. To achieve that, hoteliers need to know what guests want and expect.

The complicated part is that guests' expectations are changing constantly. Before, price and product were the most important and now 86% of buyers will pay more for a better customer experience. The things they wanted and longed for 5 years ago are not the same today. This makes it hard for accommodation businesses to keep up and meet them. 

Before, the guest journey started only when the guest arrived at the hotel and finished once they left, without any prior or post touchpoints. Today, this is not the reality anymore. The guest journey starts in the pre-arrival stage at the moment of reservation and is never-ending, continuing after the stay.

Thus, the key to providing a seamless guest experience is first of all understanding who your guests are, what are their expectations and how can you meet them throughout the full guest journey in its 3 stages (pre-stay, stay and post-stay), planning the touchpoints ahead. 

Guest data to know your guests 

First and foremost, you need to know who your guests are as 63% of customers expect businesses to know their needs and expectations. But, with so many different guests, with different ages, personalities, goals, and preferences, how can you be able to know the right information about all of them at the same time? A simple four-letter word will answer all your prayers: data. 

Think about it, you have guest data in several platforms, such as the PMS, F&B, OTAs, and more. But all of it is spread out and unorganised. In the end, you don’t have a way to effectively use it to know your guests. 

If you have a unified database, with a single guest profile for each guest across all your properties, you are able to have structured data that is reliable and that you can use to adapt your touchpoints throughout the journey of different guests, tailoring your communication and offers according to different segments.     

Guest expectations you need to meet  

a. Mobile-first approach 

In every industry, technology has taken an important role, and the travel industry is no exception. Think about the process you undertake to go on a flight or book an Airbnb, a major part of the process (if not all) is made digitally. The customer does not need to check in face to face or call to ask questions, all they need is to have their phone and write. So, why is the hotel industry any different? 

Guests want everything to happen fast, without losing much time. They want to have a process as easy as possible while having all their questions answered, and feel taken care of without the need for much effort from their side. 

Around 93% of customers prefer to communicate via message but less than one-third of them actually receives text messages from businesses and customer satisfaction over messaging is up to 14% higher. If hoteliers want to keep up with this demand and increase guest satisfaction, a mobile-first approach is necessary. 

b. Contactless experience 

With the strike of the pandemic, a contactless experience became a need, so guests want the chance to take care of everything about their stay without a face-to-face interaction, as it brings a feeling of safety and control. For 46% of guests, having a contactless experience when travelling is a must. 

Thus, having the chance to control everything about their stay at all times (before arrival, during the stay and after) digitally is a must. 

c. Personalised experience 

There are a lot of accommodation businesses out there and all of them can provide the basics. However, what guests truly want is to feel special. Nowadays, that is the only way to engage with guests, and in the future, it will be even more important. 

Personalisation goes beyond adding their name to an email, it means communicating in a personalised way according to their needs and providing offers that will complement their stay and enhance their experience according to their goals. 71% of customers expect personalisation from companies, so it is crucial that you show that you know your guests. For example, if it is the 4th time they are staying at your hotel, you can send a message saying “Glad to have you back” or offer a bottle of champagne if it is their birthday.

 

Touchpoints you can tackle to build the guest experience

The secret to designing the guest experience of the future is to meet all these expectations throughout the different touchpoints the guest has with you. 

Pre-stay 

  1. Research

The first step the guest takes when looking for accommodation is to research, which means checking all the reviews and information they can find online about your business, including on OTA websites. 

At this stage, you are not in direct contact with the guest, and neither you nor they have any clue of what can be expected from the other. This may lead you to ask yourself: How can I impact the guest's journey at this stage if that is the case? 

You need to make sure they have enough information to know what to expect. 49% of guests trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations so you need to ensure that the reviews they see are positive. For that, your guests need to be satisfied and encouraged to leave a review. 

  1. Booking 

After checking reviews, the potential guest will get ready for booking, which will either happen on your website (direct booking) or via an OTA. In Europe, in 2021, there were still 28.7% of bookings via online intermediaries, the goal being to decrease that number and increase the number of direct bookings. But how? 

When potential guests step into your website, you need to be there to answer all their questions and help them feel safe with the booking.

If you use a chatbot on your website, you are able to reply to all the FAQs automatically and be available to the guest 24/7 without additional workload to your staff. Show the guest they are on top of your mind before even stepping foot in your hotel.  

After the booking is done, send a personalised booking confirmation, which you can automate with the information you want. 

  1. Segmented offers 

 Before the guest arrives for their stay, you can use the data you gathered from them to send specific offers to specific segments. With personalised interactions, promotion increases by up to 29%, and that is because you tailor your communication according to who your guests are. For example, you can select the families and send them a specific meal package just for families. If it is a young couple, you can ask them if they would like to add a romantic dinner to their first night. 

All this will be relevant to each segment you reach, instead of the same offer for all. 

Stay 

  1. Pre-arrival & check-in 

Right before arriving at the hotel, the guest wants to have control over all the information about their reservation, including check-in times, how check-in works, and what events exist in the hotel on the days when they will be there, among others. 

72% of customers say they try self-service first at least half the time before contacting a member of the support team. Thus, given that guests don’t want to lose time in enormous check-in lines and enjoy the mobile-first approach, if they have access to a page where they can do the check-in digitally by themselves, not only it will save time for your staff on repetitive tasks, as it also satisfies your guests. 

  1. During the stay 

If there is anything the guest needs from you, make it easy for them to just send a message that you reply to quickly. Additionally, send personalised offers and communication to your guests during their stay.  68% of customers expect brands to demonstrate empathy, while only 37% say they generally do, so what is your role? Make them feel special. 

By doing so, you send relevant information to each of them depending on who they are, which is why you increase your upselling success rate as well as guest satisfaction by adding valuable experiences to their stay.  

Post-stay

After the guest leaves the hotel, don’t assume or act as if their journey was over. First of all, ask for feedback, ask for a review and use all the guest data in your power to personalise that request. Around 62% of customers say reviews play a big/moderate role in finding out more about a business, so this is essential to be able to attract new guests.  

Other than that, you know valuable information to send them targeted communication and increase guest loyalty. Turn your guests into recurring guests, which is much easier and more sustainable than simply trying to get new ones. 

Use technology to improve the guest experience   

To provide the guest experience of the future, you need to use technology to your advantage. Technology is the key for you to be able to get to a higher number of guests in a personalised way and without the need for more staff and more costs. Save money and increase revenue by providing the guest experience of the future. Don’t be afraid to innovate, plan your guests’ journey ahead and make them feel how much they matter to you. Turn one-timers into returning guests. 

Take the first road to the future and find out how you can build your own guest experience with a free consultation with our experts. Enjoy the ride! 

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