25,000 stories are being told about the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel every single day. Out of the 75,000 guests who check in every day, 34% tell their friends. What are they doing to create these conversations? Turns out the answer is providing guests with a warm chocolate chip cookie whenever they check-in.
Why do people love it? This cookie helps guests feel welcome and special creating a positive first impression that gives a great start to the hotel experience. One of the reasons this is such a successful gesture is that experiences are very vivid and when it’s memorable, stories will be told about them. Stories that only come out with exceptional guest experiences.
While stories and experiences form one way of boosting footfall, vouchers and offers are another age-old tactics. Vouchers have been the tried and tested move to gain more customers but their demerits are often overlooked. Once vouchers become a part of a hotel’s strategy, people tend to expect more vouchers and are less likely to come back to pay the full price. This not only brings down the image of the hotel but also has the potential to hamper business. Vouchers act as a one-time incentive in comparison to experiences that last a lifetime. It’s important to remember vouchers can only be a short-term way to boost numbers. But at the end of the day, all that counts is how many come back for more.
What can better guest experiences do?
The oldest trick in the advertising book is one that still stands to be one of the most effective forms in today’s world: Word of mouth advertising. 88% of people had the highest level of trust in a brand when a friend or family member recommended it. In addition to that, out of the top five popular ways to recommend a business, word-of-mouth comes first, followed by Facebook, Google, and Twitter.
Word of mouth is largely based on the concept of social learning. It has become an important tool for humans to not only survive but to also pick out what is the best among a range of experiences. Social learning essentially posits that one way of picking up new behaviors is by interacting and observing the people around us. However, the only way to convince people that a business is any good is to provide them with the best experience they can have.
As leaders in hotel operations, it is important to note that this means that one of the best marketing investments a hotel could make is in its guests. Guest experiences are what matter at every guest touchpoint: From check-in to check-out. Whether it be reducing wait times during check-ins with a virtual check-in or hotel support in planning their overall stay or even just communicating in a language the guest is most comfortable in, it’s always the small things that make the biggest impact.
On the flip side, it’s important to remember the big impact negative experiences can have on guests. The negativity bias comes into play here. Our brains seem to be hardwired to more readily respond and remember negative than positive experiences. So one negative moment can severely affect the guest’s perception of the entire hotel experience, however positive. In fact, it takes 12 positive customer experiences to make up for one negative experience.
Every guest touchpoint is a way to create a memorable experience that could become the story they tell everyone. One of the most cost-effective ways this has come about is through the development of tech and AI. Here are a few simple ways to make guest experiences better
Check-ins must be as fast and as efficient
The first impression a hotel makes is its front office and check-in process. Long waits and an overwhelmed front office employee is not what guests want to see after a long flight. Substantial research has affirmed the importance of first impressions which even in the face of opposing facts, continues to affect how people perceive the rest of the experience.
Avoid long wait times for queries
90% of customers rate an “immediate” response as essential or very important when they have a customer service question. Keeping customers waiting when they call the front office for basic FAQs can negatively affect their perception of the hotel. Ensure quick response times whether it be by automation or through appointing dedicated staff.
Easy access to all hotel services
Help guests find what they are looking for whether it be a spa or a guide through the city to show them that you are going above and beyond for their comfort. Not only does the guest get all their needs satisfied within the hotel, they would also be able to truly appreciate the full set of services that the hotel can provide.
Quality guest experience checks
Keep in touch with their experience to correct any problems and help them out in case of issues within the hotel. Having an open line of communication between the hotel and guests ensures that the guest can get any issues immediately solved keeping them happy. Any problems that the guest might face wouldn’t seem as bad if the hotel is able to respond as soon as possible.
What does this boil down to?
Quality experiences should be the long-term plan for every hotel to flourish. Ultimately, vouchers are a way to get people into the door but what makes them stay is the wonderful experience laid out for them. More importantly, that’s what makes them recommend the hotel to more people. No vouchers can bring people back after a bad experience.
It is important to note that vouchers might not be for every brand or every type of consumer as they reduce the perceived value of the hotel, especially for luxury hotels. A great experience leaves people with a positive effect on the brand and thus not only creates repeat customers but also makes it more likely that they will recommend the hotel to more people.
At the end of the day, a business is only as good as the customer’s experience. That should be the first focus for hotels to attract more customers. Creating experiences has now become much more cost-effective and easy to execute with rapidly developing technology and software.
As leaders in the hotel industry, it’s important to focus on creating memorable experiences, for each and every guest, much like the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel case.
The hotel industry is increasingly employing conversational AI and robotic automation technologies, but there’s still a huge ground to cover. It has huge potential but is underpenetrated.
Engage-AI is RateGain’s Virtual Assistant Conversational AI platform which helps optimize your hotel’s operations, create upsell opportunities and generate more revenue per guest, ultimately enhancing guest experience and increasing satisfaction scores for the hotel.