Using Feedback to Exceed Guests' Great Expectations

By Shayne Paddock Vice President of Product Development & Innovation, 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:

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Coming up in June 2019...

Sales & Marketing: Selling Experiences

There are innumerable strategies that Hotel Sales and Marketing Directors employ to find, engage and entice guests to their property, and those strategies are constantly evolving. A breakthrough technology, pioneering platform, or even a simple algorithm update can cause new trends to emerge and upend the best laid plans. Sales and marketing departments must remain agile so they can adapt to the ever changing digital landscape. As an example, the popularity of virtual reality is on the rise, as 360 interactive technologies become more mainstream. Chatbots and artificial intelligence are also poised to become the next big things, as they take guest personalization to a whole new level. But one sales and marketing trend that is currently resulting in major benefits for hotels is experiential marketing - the effort to deliver an experience to potential guests. Mainly this is accomplished through the creative use of video and images, and by utilizing what has become known as User Generated Content. By sharing actual personal content (videos and pictures) from satisfied guests who have experienced the delights of a property, prospective guests can more easily imagine themselves having the same experience. Similarly, Hotel Generated Content is equally important. Hotels are more than beds and effective video presentations can tell a compelling story - a story about what makes the hotel appealing and unique. A video walk-through of rooms is essential, as are video tours in different areas of a hotel. The goal is to highlight what makes the property exceptional, but also to show real people having real fun - an experience that prospective guests can have too. The June Hotel Business Review will report on some of these issues and strategies, and examine how some sales and marketing professionals are integrating them into their operations.