As competitive as the hospitality industry is, it’s essential to maintain best practices and keep up-to-date with the needs and wants of its customers. In today’s age, customers are seeking experiences beyond a comfortable bed and a hot shower. They want personalized experiences, unique amenities, and an overall feeling of being well taken care of on all levels.
There are several ways hotels can improve customer satisfaction. It starts with listening to what the customer wants, in addition to adapting to what’s most important to them.
Authentic experiences win out every time; gimmicks never last. Treat each customer as a special guest by taking care of their needs big and small.
A happy customer is one that’ll remember your property in a good light and will return again and again while recommending you to others. Consistency in service excellence will always receive the highest guest feedback when it comes to how happy a customer is and what will make them return for another visit. Setting up your team with the appropriate training and scenarios will help to improve customer satisfaction and sustain a high rating.
Assign a Team to Respond to Online Reviews
Anyone who works in hospitality understands the various roles they must fill to keep things running smoothly. Maintaining a strong online presence is valuable, but often can slip to the side if not given the right amount of attention. Assign a designated person or team to respond to comments as they are posted online. Make it routine to respond at least within a 48-hour time window if not sooner.
This involves all review sites, including TripAdvisor and Yelp, but also, social media sites like Twitter and Facebook. The longer a person has to wait for a response, the more frustrated they become. Reach out to guests right away to hear their concerns and respond accordingly. This will show them you are listening to their needs and present to potential customers how responsive your team is.
In addition to being responsive, be proactive in reaching out to guests and asking them for feedback. Send a follow-up email with a link to your top review site is often a useful prompt for them to let you know how they rate their stay. Good or bad, make sure each person receives a response to their review. If they took time to write it, they want to make sure someone takes time to read it. Set a standard protocol in place for how to respond to reviews to maintain consistency and professionalism among your team.
Finally, use these positive reviews as a way to increase hotel occupancy for new or potential guests. Customer feedback is one of the main things people consider when making a decision about their stay. Use in email campaigns, highlighted on your website, and other areas valuable to your audience.
Streamline the Booking and Check-In Process
Create and maintain a user-friendly website that makes the booking process easy to understand and complete. Don’t forget to optimize your presence on Google, Yelp, and other sites as well. Make sure your listing is accurate and up-to-date. Is your list of amenities inclusive of recent additions? Do you have current, hi-res pictures of your guest rooms uploaded? Improving customer satisfaction begins before the person ever books a room.
In the same way, make sure your check-in process runs smoothly. Greet guests with a smile and acknowledge them by name. If possible, update your systems to use technology as a way for guests to perform a self-check-in without having to wait at a front desk. When it comes to creating happy hotel guests, making life convenient for them is key.
When it comes time to check-out, make it swift and simple. Set up drop boxes for keys or set up the in-room TV to schedule the self-checkout with an emailed portfolio. Check-out is usually rushed for most travelers and if you can reduce even a few extra steps for them, it makes the experience all the more pleasant.
Reward Loyal Guests and Personalize the Experience
The things that change an “ok” experience to an “exceptional” one comes down to personalization. For the frequent guest, plan for extras to reward them for their loyalty. As part of your loyalty programs, provide late checkout for free, establish a tiered loyalty system, or create other amenities and ways to show your gratitude for their patronage. Also, an in-person thank you goes a long way.
In addition, personalize the experience if they’ve noted it’s a special occasion. Provide a complimentary bottle of champagne or a welcome package with a handwritten note. These small touches make for happy hotel guests and start their stay off on the right foot. They have many options when it comes to choosing where they’ll stay, give them a reason to choose you.
Another idea is to schedule a hosted happy hour. Offer beer, wine, and snacks and the availability of the concierge and other hotel staff to plan excursions or set up itineraries in the city during their stay. After a long day of sightseeing or an all-day conference, being able to sit down and relax with a free glass of wine leads to very happy hotel guests.
Maintain a Strong Social Media Presence
Potential hotel guests and travelers like to see that you’re active online both when posting and responding to comments. Show the best of the best that your property has to offer. Skip using staged or stock photography and opt for sharing real-life guest photos instead. Take candid shots around the property and use them to promote upcoming events, holidays, and specials.
You can also use social media to give away freebies to guests. Whether it’s a contest for a free stay, an upgrade, or another related prize, make sure it reflects your brand well. These sporadic surprises will keep guests engaged and interested in your property, whether they’re planning a trip soon or will need to down the road.
Pick and choose which sites your audience is most active on and what makes the most sense for your property. As far as visuals, Instagram is the easiest to maintain with high-quality photography and witty captions. However, Twitter is a good tool to use for customer responses or special announcements. Get creative with how you organize your social media calendar and make sure it fits the goals of what you want to achieve and what people want to see.
Update Your Amenities to Meet Modern Needs
Nowadays, everyone needs WiFi which means offering it for free is a perk that is much appreciated by customers. Also, practicing sustainability is important to many travelers today. This involves offering recyclable materials and promoting water conservation in guestrooms. In the past, free bottles of water were the norm, but people are mindful of the plastic they waste.
A smart alternative is introducing a water refill station. FloWater gives guests the opportunity to refill any size water container within seconds with chilled, fresh, purified water. By installing a FloWater Refill Station in the hotel lobby and/or throughout the property, it provides the amenity guests are looking for while encouraging sustainability. It also leads to less mess and wasted resources.
Rather than dealing with half-empty plastic water bottles or throwaway paper cups, this limits the amount of trash from your property significantly. It also allows people to have a filtered water resource that tastes great and is convenient to use. Before they head out for the day or when they settle in for the evening, they can fill up their reusable water bottle and stay hydrated.
Deliver an Exceptional Customer Experience Every Time
Every moment of the guest experience matters. From the booking process all the way up to when they check out, it’s important your team is well-trained on the protocols that best reflect your hotel. Continually pay attention to guest feedback both in-person and online and change your accommodations and amenities accordingly. During their stay, make sure their requests are attended to without delay. Also, anticipate any potential special needs in advance.
It can feel like a lot to keep up with, but if you start to prioritize tasks, it becomes more manageable. What are the things that need to be escalated right away? What’s an easy solution to test within the next few months? What are the ideas that will take longer to come together? Also, consider what about the property that guests already enjoy. What are ways you can amplify the service or amenity?
Not everything can or should be adapted to on a whim, but all feedback is helpful when you put it to good use. Some strategies can be implemented right away, while others may require a test run before final approval. By responding in a timely manner, streamlining the process, rewarding loyal guests, maintaining a strong connection, and updating amenities and experiences that make the most sense for your guests, this all delivers an overall improved level of customer satisfaction. The result: the return of happy hotel guests for years and years to come.