What matters to guests has changed drastically over the last year. Here are three things hoteliers should focus on to drive guest loyalty in the new normal.
The last year produced necessary adaptations in the hospitality industry. With no warning, hotels and casinos had to shift operations and guest service to meet new needs. As venues and properties reopen and ramp back up, many are wondering: should these changes stick?
While masks and hand sanitizer might not be as crucial in the coming months, some of the adjustments from the past year have evolved the way guests view travel, and what they expect out of lodging. There are a few big, long-term changes in how consumers are approaching their travel planning. While many of these changes were initially enacted by necessity, they’ve offered convenience and an overall better experience. Which means guests are not looking for them to go away anytime soon. In fact, hoteliers should be taking this time to increase their convenience and efficiency in the ways guests have become accustomed to.
It’s important for hoteliers to look at current traveler trends and figure out what consumers are expecting hotels to continue investing in. To help with that, here are three things guests aren’t compromising on in the new normal, along with opportunities for hoteliers to build guest loyalty now and in the future.
With booking especially, flexibility is huge. According to the Washington Post, travelers are still gravitating towards added travel insurance as they book future trips. If last year taught us anything, it’s to expect the unexpected–and always have a backup plan. Most people now have first-hand experience with hotels or event centers who either were or were NOT flexible during the pandemic. The lived experience of the last year has produced guests who are looking to book with properties they know will be understanding when it comes to last-minute changes and cancellations. And while Airlines and hotels initially shifted policies due to the necessity because of COVID, moving forward, many airlines are making these changes permanent. If hotels want to build trust and loyalty in the coming days, following suit by keeping flexibility at the forefront is crucial.
Flexibility in booking and reservations is key–but it matters in other places as well. Guests want their entire experience to be low-stress. They are looking for a build-your-own experience where they can opt into and opt out of the services and activities they want—so every experience is tailored to them. The more freedom to make decisions and change their mind, the more likely they will be to return and recommend the experience to others.
What better way could there be for guests to tailor an experience to their needs and embrace flexibility than with self-service options? Guests are so over lines and multi-step processes. They want to get on to the point of their stay, whether it be family time, business, or just some much needed R&R
That’s why self-service is critical to basically every industry right now. Consumers got so used to taking care of themselves and handling everything through self-service during the past year. In the new normal, self-service is the preferred way of handling issues. Does this mean in-person assistance is totally out the window? Absolutely not. Guests will always want a person available to solve the more complex questions or problems they might have. But for the simple stuff, it’s second nature to handle it themselves. So let them!
- Digital experiences
The most effective self-service strategies rely on what travelers already have available to them 24/7: their smartphones. In December 2020, Expedia reported that 77% of travelers said properties must have key technology amenities if they are to book a stay there. This far into the year, that number might be even higher.
Digital is key to the best guest experience. From a quick check-in, to a mobile room key you can’t misplace, to ordering food and booking a spa reservation. When everything can be done with a few taps, their focus gets to remain entirely on their stay. Digital tech really brings together the flexibility and self-service travelers are looking for because it gives all the control back to the guest. No lines, no waiting around. Just what they want, on their terms.
Help Them Help You
The best part about the above three strategies is that they ultimately benefit hoteliers and their staff. A flexible environment breeds understanding. If you are flexible with your guests, it contributes to more understanding from them during service recovery or technical difficulties. And the more self-service and digital options you provide, the less tedious tasks your staff have to focus on–freeing them up for the more important operations. Building guest loyalty is all about going above and beyond guest expectations to offer satisfying, sophisticated experiences they’re truly looking for—the kind that will have them coming back again and again.
Curious about what tech is available to give your guests a more holistic experience? Request a demo today.