Using Feedback to Exceed Guests' Great Expectations

By Shayne Paddock Chief Innovation Officer / Guest Management Solutions, TravelClick | April 06, 2014

Guest preferences and expectations constantly change. Hoteliers can't assume that because a guest made a request during one stay that the same request will be made — or even desired — each time he or she returns to your property. Travelers’ personas change. Sometimes a guest is traveling on business; other times it's for leisure. The guest may be alone or accompanied by a spouse or the entire family. Whether these road trippers are looking for a quick place to sleep or a longer stay where more amenities are desired, knowing what they want, when they want it, and how often is key to guest loyalty and satisfaction.

Asking guests about each desire or preference all at once can be overwhelming. To be more effective over the long run and get the answers you need, try asking for small amounts of information more often throughout the guest lifecycle. Preferences sometimes change between booking the reservation and arriving on property, especially for stays where the booking window is large. Checking in with guests periodically enables hoteliers to always have the most accurate information on hand.

In addition to asking for preferences at various points in the guest lifecycle, the customer should be able to communicate his or her requests using their preferred communication channel; it may be over the telephone, on a laptop, or a smartphone. Don't assume, however, that just because a guest reached out to you with a smartphone that it will always be his preferred communication channel.

When to Ask and What to Ask For

The shorter the gap between the experience and asking for a guest review, the higher the success rate for obtaining feedback. For example, if the property has a golf course, managers will get a higher rate of return when asking for feedback shortly after a round is played versus asking a guest to recall the experience weeks or months after the stay is completed. In-stay queries reduce the amount of information you are asking for at check-out. By requesting feedback while the guest is still on property, it gives managers an opportunity to remedy any negative situation in person. This is especially important when asking about the reservation experience; if you wait until after the stay to ask about the check-in process, chances are a guests' recollection may be skewed, especially if the hotel waits months after check out before a query is initiated.

Asking the guest after every interaction isn't good either. Hoteliers need to be strategic in knowing when it's appropriate to ask for immediate feedback and when they should wait. Immediate requests via survey should be sent during:

Coming up in January 2018...

Mobile Technology: Relentless Innovation

Technology has become a crucial component in attracting and retaining hotel guests, and the need to enhance a guest’s technology experience is driving a relentless pace of innovation. To meet and exceed guest expectations, 54% of hotels will spend more on technology in 2018, and mobile solutions in particular will top the list of capital investments. Many hotels are integrating mobile booking, mobile keys, mobile payments and mobile check-in into their operations. Other hotels are emphasizing the in-room experience, boosting bandwidth and upgrading flat screen TVs to more easily interface with guest mobile devices. And though not yet mainstream, there are many exciting technology developments on the near horizon. The Internet of Things (loT) is taking form in some places, and can be found in guest room control systems, voice activation systems, and in wearable sensors that can be used for access and payment options. Virtual reality headsets are available at some hotels so guests can enjoy virtual trips to exotic locations or if off-property, preview conference facilities and guest rooms. How long will it be before a hotel employs a fleet of robots for room service, or utilizes a hologram as a concierge, or installs gesture-controlled walls that feature interactive digital displays? Some hotels are already using augmented reality for translation services, or interactive wall maps, or even virtual décor. This pace of innovation is challenging property owners and brands to stay on top of the latest technology trends while still addressing current projects. The January Hotel Business Review will explore what some hotels are doing to maximize their opportunities in the mobile technology space.