For-Sight’s Partner AskSuite, the #1 platform in intelligent omnichannel customer service for hotels, inns and resorts share their thoughts on the benefits of a strong guest relationship in driving reservations.
The hospitality industry is going through changing times, and the search for ideal guests gets more and more competitive.
With so many opportunities open for travelers to embrace, the challenge is to find ways to strengthen your relationship with guests and potential guests in a way that leaves a long-lasting effect.
The good news is that we’re getting better and better at handling new demand patterns. So, whether you run a small inn or a well-known resort, there are tried-and-true improvements you can make to get closer to people and thus increase reservations.
The guest journey
Contrary to popular belief, the guest journey isn’t just about the stay. The experience starts when travelers first consider going somewhere, and most importantly, it never really ends.
That’s because once a guest leaves your hotel, they should be nurtured and prompted at the right times, not only to help you increase brand awareness but also just so that they can start the guest journey all over again.
This is how it happens:
- A desire to go somewhere
At this stage, travelers search for possible destinations online, check their peers’ social media, and discuss high seasons and time off work with others joining them on the trip.
- Interesting facts
With a destination in mind, travelers try to learn more about local attractions and gather as many details as they can about the destination.
- Where to stay?
Unless the place of stay is a major attraction itself, travelers will start thinking about the lodging modality, and browse what possible accommodations look like online.
Customers usually work out the cost of attractions, meals, and stay. They might reach out to possible accommodation providers for prices or consult OTAs. They’ll mull over lodging options, check hotels’ social media, and cost-benefit.
Potential guests often take this as a last chance to clear objections and solve doubts. And once assured, they’ll probably book through the channel they feel most comfortable using.
Now your guest should get confirmation about the stay, dates, and services. It’s time to send them pictures showing the perks of the stay, and offer the possibility of add-ons (this is a great upselling opportunity!).
- The stay
Here is your chance to shine. From front desk attendants to housekeeping and amenity providers, people will represent the face of your business at whatever touchpoint guests interact with you.
- Review of stay
This is a great opportunity to learn how you can improve from guests. Or just understand what you’re doing right and make sure it stays a priority.
- After stay
This stage of the journey is a game changer to ensure guests come back. They should receive loyalty program offers, exclusive promotions for returning guests, and alerts about upcoming birthdays and anniversary deals.
Nurture guests about the stay and invite them to engage in social media (answer your polls, get into best-picture-of-your-hotel contests, etc.)
- A desire to go somewhere
Your guest should end at the beginning of the journey, but this time, you’re responsible for prompting the desire to go somewhere.
Ads, email marketing, social media campaigns, partnerships, and events—you name it—are efficient ways to reach the customer at each point of the journey we just mentioned, but there are essential steps you need to take to create meaningful relationships.
Stronger relationships from the ground up
In his book Pour Your Heart Into It: How Starbucks Built a Company One Cup At a Time, Howard Schultz said,
“Authenticity is what makes (brands) last. If people believe they share values with your company, they will stay loyal to the brand.”
The old is as important as the new when it comes to hotel guests. People love to see what others say about a place they plan to visit, but it needs to start somewhere.
Social proof is a mental trigger that plays a fundamental role in consumers’ decision processes. Testimonials, reviews, Instagram posts, etc. are types of content that ensure hotels sound more credible.
For each topic we’re about to discuss, bear in mind that hotels have to find common ground between the business, travelers, and returning guests. Here is how you do that:
What do you know about your guests?
The more you know about your guests, the better the experience you’ll provide. And to do that, you need an efficient lead capture system.
Guests contact you all the time using different channels such as email, forms, or a chatbot like Asksuite’s, so it’s important to set up an efficient lead capture strategy. If you aren’t certain who your ideal guests are, here’s a template to help you find out.
Successful lead capture can’t wear customers out and should look relevant to the funnel stage they’re in. From there, you get to anticipate customers’ needs and build stronger ties with them to naturally outdo the competition.
Attract customers with helpful, relevant, and engaging content. This will help your guests get familiar with your hotel.
The more you manage to create a sense of community, local perks, and partnerships, the more likely your customers will be to repeat their stay.
It’s more than just good-quality photos, it needs to portray the experience. So, charm your audience with content about your location, and spike their interest with non-scripted detours and tips.
Emphasize other experiences worth having in your location and alluring aspects of your hotel—a mouthwatering menu, exclusive room view, a panoramic café and dining, live music, and so on.
Ensure customers can find you no matter the communication channel they use. In real life or online, no one likes to be left waiting, and people will move on to the competition if they can’t find you or get an answer.
The truth is that the more interconnected you are, the bigger you’ll feel, and the more your guests will get the impression they’re going for an experience with someone who is ahead of the game.
The slightest hint that people might regret trusting in the quality of your business, and they will stop booking with you. When you’re accessible, you can easily and promptly help clear all their doubts and concerns.
Use technology in your favor
Automate as many processes as you can. Answer-time is crucial for travelers and guests alike. The more seamless the journey appears, the more confident they’ll feel about what you have to offer.
CRM tools can be game-changers, the sky’s the limit to what you can do with the data you gather—from automating marketing campaigns to decoding PMS data to drive direct bookings.
Technology isn’t here to make you lose touch with the essence of your business. On the contrary, it can even help you predict revenue for certain seasons or events, ensuring you have no unwanted surprises.
And the best part is that different techs can be integrated, such as Asksuite’s Omnichannel solution—a platform to centralize all communication channels in a single place—and For-Sight’s Reporting Suite—an advanced CRM tool that generates precise performance reports with metrics you can filter down to craft intelligent strategies.
Reach out constantly
Hospitality accommodation providers often focus on guests right in front of them, but this might interfere with your chances of building customer loyalty.
If you look at the journey we described above, you’ll see there are plenty of ways and moments in which you can remind potential guests you are there.
It doesn’t have to be boring or have an air of obligation. Take this as an opportunity to get to know people and their expectations, even learn from their insights and implement the best ideas.
A personalized experience helps your guests see you as someone closer and different from “just another hotel”. In fact, people tend to even pay more for a tailored experience.
And there is no need to reinvent the wheel. A flower, a greeting card with guests’ names, extra samples or chocolate will do. Think outside the box and look at what your guests are sharing about the experience.
For example, let’s say you are in London. Guests surely won’t blame you for the rain, but if you see enough online comments about the weather catching them unaware, investing in umbrellas—whether they are courtesy or lent—will show them you care about their day and happiness.
Have a coherent brand message
We’ve spoken about the importance of being available on every channel. But it’s also important that travelers have a clear understanding of your name, logo, mood, and appeal.
Think for example of Uber or Apple’s clean design and minimal copy, and the promise that life will be made easier. It’s not just about looks, but an emotional connection, a display that inspires trust, and patterns that elicit recognition
For hotels, that comes with the perception of mood and atmosphere, and the voice you use to make customers feel right at home.
Standardized answers, colors, and practices will ensure your brand identity is always on your guests’ radar when they think of traveling.
Now that you know all the different ways you can strengthen your relationship with customers to boost revenue, it’s time to put your strategy into action.
Don’t try to do everything at once, and remember you need to back up all initiatives with a support team to answer customers’ questions and nurture the relationship at different touchpoints.
If you feel you’ll be understaffed to take on the new demand, consider automating your operational workload to free up some time for what is really important—your guests.
There are companies such as Asksuite and For-Sight that are specialized in automated technology for hotels, don’t be afraid to enhance your business with these on-point solutions.
About the author: Evelin Lima is a copywriter and content strategist who currently works at Asksuite. Evelin loves to write words to make impactful changes for businesses. She has read her first one thousand books, but don’t get impressed, some were as short as Peter Pan.