A Platform Approach to Feedback

By Benjamin Jost Co-Founder & CEO, TrustYou | July 09, 2017

When does a hotel customer become a “guest”? Is it at the point where they book a reservation? The moment they walk through the doors into the lobby? Somewhere in between? Our team at TrustYou set out to identify the guest experience through the lens of guest communications, running a survey and observational study that encompassed nearly 1,000 participants. We identified the likes and dislikes of these guests. Along the way, we found some very interesting numbers relating to how travelers like to communicate with their hotel, and how these communication methods impact satisfaction levels.

To answer the first question, a significant majority of guests expect that the hotel will initiate communications upon booking; 80% of consumers expect an email confirmation, so our view is that “guests” earn that title the moment they make a booking decision (and have expectations for the hotel).

In terms of communication requests:

  • Most (73%) prefer their communications to be through online channels. This
    includes e-mail, social media and text messaging (SMS). In general, e-mail
    was the most common form of communications, with nearly 70% of people using
    the channel.
  • A majority (75%) prefer to communicate one-on-one with a person on site. It
    makes sense intrinsically that guests may have questions about local
    happenings or special requests that they feel are more likely to be met if
    they speak with someone who’s in the actual building they’re staying in.
    However, combined with the previous point, it speaks to the need to create
    systems and policies that enable front desk employees to communicate
    directly with guests through electronic means.

Of course, not all feedback and communication happens before the actual stay. Guests will check in and have interactions with the hotel staff while on the premise. One of our more interesting findings had to do with when guests will provide feedback about an issue. Roughly a third of guests acknowledged that they were most likely to address an issue while they were in the checkout process, rather than when the issue arises. This puts hotel leaders in a tough spot; they can’t fix an issue that they don’t know about.

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Coming up in February 2018...

Social Media: Engagement is Key

There are currently 2.3 billion active users of social media networks and savvy hotel operators have incorporated social media into their marketing mix. There are a few Goliath channels on which one must have a presence (Facebook & Twitter) but there are also several newer upstart channels (Instagram, Snapchat &WeChat, for example) that merit consideration. With its 1.86 billion users, Facebook is a dominant platform where operators can drive brand awareness, facilitate bookings, offer incentives and collect sought-after reviews. Twitter's 284 million users generate 500 million tweets per day, and operators can use its platform for lead generation, building loyalty, and guest interaction. Instagram was originally a small photo-sharing site but it has blown up into a massive photo and video channel. The site can be used to post photos of the hotel property, as well as creating Instagram Stories - personal videos that disappear from the channel after 24 hours. In this regard, Instagram and Snapchat are now in direct competition. WeChat is a Chinese company whose aim is to be the App for Everything - instant messaging, social media, shopping and payment services - all in a single platform. In addition to these channels, blogging continues to be a popular method to establish leadership, enhance reputations, and engage with customers in a direct and personal way. The key to effective use of all social media is to find out where your customers are and then, to the fullest extent possible, engage with them on a personal level. This engagement is what creates a personal connection and sustains brand loyalty. The February Hotel Business Review will explore these issues and examine how some hotels are successfully integrating social media into their operations.