In recent blog posts, we have explored the importance of the hotel guest experience in hospitality, looking specifically at strategies hotels can use to improve guest satisfaction and examining the distinctions between customization and personalization.
What we have discovered is that, as Deloitte notes, “The principle of knowing guests is and has always been at the core of understanding and delivering an exceptional hotel guest experience.”
How well do you know your guests?
How well a hotel knows its guests depends on how effectively it can analyze and use the information it collects — which, with today’s technology, is quite a lot.
From online booking to post-stay satisfaction surveys, hospitality companies have numerous opportunities to gather demographic, behavioral and past-purchase information about hotel guests, along with details of their stated and inferred preferences.
Mapping the guest journey
We are, however, not just talking about data collected by electronic means. To get a more complete picture, hotels can map the entire guest journey, which Hotel Technology News managing editor Jeff Zaban defines as “the record of every interaction and transaction, both digital and in-person, that a guest is likely to have with the hotel throughout the course of their stay”.
By creating a customer journey map, hoteliers are better equipped to identify critical gaps in the current state of the property’s guest experience, enabling them to pinpoint specific opportunities for improvement.
Zaban writes that the hotel customer journey starts long before guests check in at the front desk. The customer's journey arguably begins when a guest sets out to research and explore their accommodation options via online travel agencies, continues through the booking process, and may carry on after they check out.
Using guests' data responsibly
Each of these touchpoints represents an opportunity to collect information on guest behavior, activities and preferences. Of course, it’s important for hospitality operators to use such customer data responsibly — and only with guests' permission.
A new report from the law firm Reed Smith highlights the numerous ways that guests provide high-tech smart hotels with data, from scanning in their passport and a QR code to check in to connecting with devices in the room — such as a smart TV, temperature controls, alarms and other services — via app-enabled guidance.
“Such processing allows hotels to personalize a service but also enables them to access and collect much more personal data,” the report reads, before cautioning that “Given recent massive data breaches in the hospitality sector, hotels that are stepping in this direction need to ensure guests can trust hotels with their personal data.”
The importance of being transparent
The authors note that, because hotel rooms are private spaces, hospitality operators are compelled to implement privacy “by default and by design”. This means disabling any personal data collection that is not initiated by the guest or required for their stay — such as the collection of information by smart TVs, of movements in the hotel room or of voice recordings — without requiring the guest to take any additional steps.
“Hotels need to be transparent about what personal data they collect and for what purposes before collecting such data,” states Reed Smith. “They also need to ensure that they observe basic principles like data minimization.”
Rewarding consumer loyalty
A growing number of modern consumers see the upside of allowing companies to collect certain types of information from them when their loyalty is rewarded with personalized offers and elevated service.
As we have previously noted, Google and Phocuswright reported that 76% of US travelers say that they would be likely or extremely likely to sign up for the loyalty program of a travel brand that tailored its information and overall trip experience based on their personal preferences or past behavior. What’s more, 36% (over 1 in 3) say they would pay extra for more tailored information and a more personalized guest experience.
A better customer experience
This is all likely to become an even more important consideration for hospitality businesses that aim to stay competitive. In a recent article, Hospitality Net predicted that hotels “will be ramping up personalization in 2023, by combining CRM [customer relationship management] and online behavior data to tailor offers and communication around guests’ preferences.”
Property management systems
A property management system (or PMS) should be a part of any savvy hotel’s tech stack. A PMS is a solution that facilitates the booking management and admin tasks of a hotel. From housekeeping to reservation management and electronic payments, everything flows through the PMS.
Beyond automating previously manual tasks, property management systems also hold a lot of data that can help you make informed decisions, and ultimately create better hotel guest experiences, down the line.
The power of segmentation
Your PMS can be the central repository for customer data, which can be segmented based on such factors as demographics and spending patterns, length of hotel stay, or the extent to which individual hotel guests use on-site facilities such as the spa, gym, restaurant or casino.
Empowered with this information, hotels can then use it to further enhance the guest's journey through carefully tailored services and personalized promotional offers.
Analytics provide insight into guest experiences
Hotels that offer PressReader as a guest amenity can the built-in Analytics function to get in-depth insight into how guests are using the platform, letting management make informed decisions based on user adoption instead of choosing your tech based on a hunch.
By providing stats on app usage, including which newspapers and magazines visitors are reading from what categories, hotels can also gauge which topics interest guests the most. That knowledge can help inform decisions on room décor, treatment offerings at the spa, and innumerable other factors that can add up to a memorable guest experience.
And with further opportunities to build out loyalty campaigns — such as incentivizing bookings by offering remote access to PressReader's full catalog 24 hours before they arrive at your property — guests can start reading their favorite publications while they travel.
The top five loyalty attributes
Deloitte surveyed more than 3,000 US consumers, asking them a series of questions about their loyalty behavior and preferences with regards to loyalty programs for specific industries — including a number in the travel and hospitality sectors, such as airlines, transportation, restaurants and hotels.
The five most important loyalty attributes, according to survey respondents, are:
1. Keep it simple for me: I prefer a loyalty program that can simply communicate the rich value it provides
2. Provide meaningful experiences for my personal data: I want brands to provide more personalized and elevated experiences driven by the personal information I choose to share
3. Extend my benefits through a well-integrated credit card: I expect credit cards affiliated with programs to offer exclusive benefits that are seamlessly embedded into the program model and experience
4. Let me opt in for exclusivity: Programs that offer a paid membership option provide an additional avenue for me to receive exclusive, highly sought-after benefits and rewards
5. Help me support mission-driven causes: The way a brand interacts with its community socially and/or politically impacts my satisfaction and overall perception of a brand
Feedback on the guest experience
We recently observed that the most direct way to find out if someone has had an enjoyable hotel guest experience is to ask them. As Skift notes, “Guest feedback, which was initially gathered through comment cards in hotel rooms, was disrupted by the explosive popularity of online guest reviews across a wide range of public platforms. Some hotels still continue to use guest satisfaction surveys to help benchmark guest satisfaction.”
Such post-stay surveys provide valuable information, but these days guests are more likely to post positive reviews and share their not-so-positive guest experiences on third-party platforms such as Tripadvisor, Google and other review sites.
Quantifying guest satisfaction
This is where reputation and review management software can prove indispensable. By allowing hotels to monitor and evaluate online reviews and ratings, such software can help quantify guest satisfaction and give hoteliers the tools to manage the property’s public perception.
It can also highlight areas for improvement or opportunity, empowering hotel staff to do what they do best: create a delightful hotel experience guests remember fondly long after they check out.
What tools does your hotel do to track and improve the guest experience? Let us know, and learn more about how we’re partnering with hotel operations to help their properties stand out.