By Madelyn Stoneburner, Customer Success Specialist, ALICE
The process for building a loyal hotel guest starts long before they step foot in your hotel. In fact, it can start weeks, months or even years before. Guests may end up on your hotel website by word of mouth, from an ad, or as a result of an online search.
They search the internet for accommodations with varying priorities including location, amenities, and ratings. But one thing that always comes up is guest service. You can’t build loyal hotel guests until you’ve mastered the art of providing exceptional guest experiences. Use hotel operations software to exceed guest expectations-- every single time.
Building Loyalty With Guests Before They Arrive
According to TripAdvisor, 77% of travelers usually or always reference reviews before booking a hotel. What guests have to say about your property influences if other guests will book a stay. Your hotel’s online reputation is important.
You can’t have loyal guests until they’ve stayed at your property.
Incentivize guests to call or book directly with the hotel by offering price matches, discounts, or complimentary amenities such as upgrades. Direct bookings also allow the hotel to capture more information such as contact information and special preferences. The front desk and reservations teams should work together to “comb” reservations, gathering useful information for the front desk to build rapport and hand select the best room possible.
Hotel operations software with guest messaging enables hotels to reach out to guests in advance of their stay and communicate with automated or personalized messages. Simply understanding what time a guest will arrive is a start.
Exceeding Expectations During a Guest’s Stay
Once the guest is onsite, the true magic begins. The hotel teams should work together ensuring guest information and special requests are known cross-departmentally. This can be done in morning stand-ups, reviewing arrivals and in-house reports, and utilizing an operations platform. With software, making sure every department is aware of a guest’s specific needs or requests, can be done with the click of a button.
Simple techniques such as addressing guests by name at each hotel outlet can make a guest feel welcome. Note any special occasions or “golden nuggets” of information and use them to make the guest feel special at every turn. This can be done by sending a personalized hand-written welcome note, a small check in amenity, or dog treats and a bed for guests traveling with furry friends.
Once it is time for the guest to depart, make sure they are leaving on a positive note. Send the guest a personalized message with your hotel’s messaging software the night before check out, thanking them for staying at the property and asking if you can assist in arranging breakfast or transportation for their departure. This is also a great opportunity to encourage guests to leave you a positive review.
If anything has gone wrong during their stay, this gives a guest an opportunity to voice these concerns prior to leaving. The best time to deal with issues is while the guest is still onsite. At checkout, the most important thing to ask is “how was your stay with us?”
Listening to what they have to say, empathizing if there is an issue, and providing a fitting solution can turn an angry guest into the most loyal customer!
Top Tips for Creating Guest Loyalty
Do your research
- Ask questions during the reservation process, make small talk and take notes. Guests are telling you this information for a reason, so use it! Guests notice when everyone in the hotel is on the same page. Use guest services software to record these notes and make sure they are readily available for the entire staff.
Show your guests that you appreciate them
- A personalized note from the GM or Director of Rooms can go a long way. Use key information gathered in the reservation process to personalize the letter (note special occasions, who they are traveling with, name of their dog, etc.).
- Welcome Amenities! This can be as simple as bottled waters, a fruit basket, or assorted nuts. You can recognize guests while still being cost effective.
Reward repeat guests
- At check-in, thank your guests for coming back to stay with you again. Offer them an upgrade or provide them with a special gift in their room.
- Reference their last stay, if possible, and check their guest profile in your hotel’s operations software to see if they have any specific room preferences.
Be proactive with guest complaints
- The best time to solve guest issues is when they are still on site. Understanding and empathizing is sometimes all the guest wants! Guest complaints are a gift.
- If a guest is taking time out of their day to let you know about something that has gone wrong, use this information to not only fix the issue, but also prevent it from happening the next time. A proper service recovery is oftentimes how you make the most loyal guests!
- Guest reviews are not always going to be flawless, but how you respond to guests makes a difference. Answering all reviews and taking ownership shows that you care. Something may have gone wrong, but seeing a thoughtful response and solution to the issue may encourage a guest to return.
Building loyal guests in the hospitality industry isn’t hard. Guest satisfaction is the main component. Take care of your guests, and they’ll return time and time again.