You may have been part of conversations that specify the need for delivering a superior guest experience, but is anybody taking the practical steps to deliver?
If not, don’t worry. It can seem like an overwhelming process at the start. Still, once you have the correct systems in place, you’ll find that everything from your branding and marketing to your in-person delivery helps you designate the kind of hospitality that turns guests into fiercely loyal brand ambassadors.
There are three critical steps to ensuring you are doing the best you can across all levels: awareness, creativity, and commitment.
Before you try to change anything, it’s vital to make sure that you understand exactly what’s happening within your organization.
The best way to do that is to look at what you’re doing from your guest’s point of view. Remember, in hospitality; everything is about meeting (and exceeding) your guest’s expectations. This also gives you a much-needed sense of perspective about what you’re doing well - and what might need to change.
For example, you could dedicate all of your energies (and budget) to boost your in-house technology quality. While this might be a great idea, what if it’s the quality (or lack thereof) of your bed linens that’s souring the guest experience?
We’ve developed several effective ways to find out what drives your guests and what’s turning them off.
Guest experience maps
To understand your guests, it’s essential to follow every brand touchpoint that your customer has with your hotel. Some people might consider that starting with the minute that your customer enters the building — in reality, it begins at the moment that your guest first comes across your hotel, before they’ve even booked anything.
From there, become aware of the ins and outs of your guest experience — from booking and arriving, staying at the hotel, or being a repeat customer, make sure you know where and how your customers interact with the hotel.
This is something that you can encourage each department to do, but it’s vital to have a 30,000-foot view of the entire process.
Listen to your feedback
You’re likely to experience feedback in a few ways:
Most obviously, your customer feedback avenues — from Google reviews to comments made by guests on OTA’s — should all be in one place and used to create an action plan. This is a great way to find out what people REALLY think — people who also care to share their opinion with you.
But it’s also essential to keep in contact with your guests. Talk to guests and observe their needs and how their habits are changing. Understand their concerns, and help solve their problems on the spot, before putting a system in place to stop that problem happening again.
Now you have a decent idea of how your guests see you, and what it is that entices them to you, it’s time to get creative.
Looking at every step in the guest-stay experience, ask yourself, “What if?” What if we changed this? What if we made it better? What if we took it away?
Once you have a solid understanding of who your guests are, brainstorming is an excellent way to generate the kinds of ideas you need. What you find may surprise you.
In many cases, the lowest price is not going to be an incentive for a guest. Instead, they’ll pay more for a story or a sensation that is delivered and helps you to stand out. You want your customers to share the story of your brand with everyone who is anywhere near you.
Build your brand story
What does your brand stand for? How would you describe your brand to someone in three words?
This matters because a brand that is young, fun, and cool is going to offer a decidedly different guest experience to one that is traditional, classic, and serene. Once you know what your brand stands for, you can better understand what your guests expect from you and can brainstorm accordingly.
Don’t be afraid to involve your entire team in the opportunity to build your story. They know the guests as well as you and may have ideas about how to reach them that you may not have considered.
Commit and measure
Once you have a list of ideas, it’s time to commit to putting something in action and measure the results.
You’re not going to be able to do everything, but take the top three to five ideas and build a plan of execution. Think through what’s required to implement these ideas and a detailed breakdown of cost and mechanisms to measure whether they’re useful in guest satisfaction. This is the best way to ensure that you’ll get budget approval.
Once your plan is in action, it’s time to start the process all over again. Make sure that you’re aware of how guests are receiving the new system. What do they like? What do they not like? This is the best way to decide if you should adjust the plan, make it bigger, or abandon it—any why.
Remember: abandoning a plan doesn’t make that plan a failure. It just gives you more knowledge to build something better in the future.
Even when your initiatives are working smoothly now, it’s important to note that you want to keep a close eye on everything so that, should expectations and needs change, your hotel is in the best place to pivot and supply guests with the experience they desire.
This is also an incredible way to drive staff engagement, and get the whole team on board — everybody, after all, wants to be a part of the best team and a winning brand.