Guest experiences – the new way of building guest loyalty
5 tips for building guest loyalty through experiences
Loyalty has become a buzzword not only in marketing but also in the hospitality industry. It is often used to describe guests’ willingness to make a repeated booking or favoring one brand from another. Loyalty programs such as earning special offers, rewards and discounts are tools that are said to result in increased guest loyalty. Yes, the price is still a very important factor in shaping loyalty, but in recent years, we observe another vital factor that might just overtake the leading position in the process of building customer loyalty.
Recent research from Deloitte suggests that “travelers participate in multiple hotel loyalty programs, waiting to see which one generates the most value before choosing their preferred brand. After this point, guests will go out of their way to build equity with their brand of preference.” However, loyalty is not only built through loyalty programs and our years of experience in the industry show that hotel guest experiences, specifically during their stay, is one of the most important factors in building loyalty.
Satisfied guests are loyal guests – this slogan is widely used as a description of loyalty and indeed, satisfaction results from positive experiences and is the main indicator of loyalty. So, the higher the guest satisfaction, the higher the loyalty.
To understand what triggers and influences guest satisfaction, hotels must evolve with the increasing guest demands and really know their guests. The principle of knowing guests has always been vital for understanding and delivering an exceptional hotel experience. Therefore, hotels’ guest experience strategy must focus on delivering the exceptional high-touch hospitality guests are used to, while focusing on one-click away, instant utility they receive from other industries.
Here are 5 tips for building guest loyalty through providing exceptional and memorable experiences:
Guest engagement relates to the art of encouraging guests to actively participate and communicate with hotels during their stay. It involves a type of communication and interaction that requires commitment and understanding of guests’ needs and expectations. Yes, face to face communication is still extremely important, no matter how much technology drives guests’ lives. Hotels need to update their communication techniques to meet the technology-driven guests and their future expectations for a one-click-away communication and information availability 24/7. In that instance – more than 51% of travelers actively use their smartphones during their travel – a number that is set to increase in the upcoming years.
Therefore, engaging hotel guests through a personalized, authentic and technology-driven way during their entire stay is a strategy that pays off. Here surfaces the challenge – guests spend more than 75% of their awake time outside the hotel – so how can hotels engage with their guests and increase their satisfaction during these 25% guests spend at the hotel? Maybe this could provide some ideas.
Receptionists and other hotel staff get asked questions all the time and most of the time – a lot of the same questions and mostly during check-in. A large percent of guests does not pay attention to the information they receive for example about the wifi code, breakfast time, check-out, etc. The result – guests getting frustrated when they really need the information, but they are not in the hotel or the receptionist does not have the time to answer all their questions.
The strategy here would be to listen and gather the most frequently asked questions. Thus, communicating the answers in a way that fits guests’ communication type is certainly a way to avoid misunderstandings and guest frustrations. Because these frustrations can easily damage the level of satisfaction and result in a negative hotel experience.
Understanding implies to really knowing guests’ preferences, needs, and past behavior. Tracking their past behavior, what interests they have, the type of vacation, etc. The challenge here is not only to have countless amount of data, but it is to use it smartly and apply the findings in the guest engagement and communication strategy.
Keeping a pool of behavioral data can assist hotels in targeting their communication and creating those incredible micro-moments that make the hotel experience memorable.
Delight involves exceeding guest expectations and creating micro-moments that create exceptional experiences and adventures guests will never forget. Here the strategy is to proactively recommend offerings and activities that correspond to your guests’ needs and expectations. Telling guests to check out TripAdvisor for recommendations about the local attractions and experiences is not enough. Getting a personal touch is more important than ever. Moreover, hotels have an incredible opportunity to utilize their staff’s local knowledge create offerings and activities that guests will appreciate and remember.
5. Be present
Taking the time to provide a seamless personal engagement and communication with guests. Being present and available at the most crucial moments is vital. For example, if a mistake is made, hotels need to make sure that the service recovery is done right and in a timely manner. If guests are left to wait for a long time, or the mistake is not fixed almost immediately, hotels risk to lose the guest completely and damage their positive brand image.
By hotels engaging, communicating, listening, understanding, delighting, and being present during their guests stay, they can ensure higher guest satisfaction levels and thus reach their ultimate goal – loyal guests that promote a positive hotel brand image.
DigitalGuests’ real-time communication platform and information guest book provide all the necessary tools to provide an exceptional guest hotel experience and increase guest satisfaction and loyalty.
Read more about DigitalGuest here.