Let’s go back to the basics: One of the most important parts of a hotel’s bottom line lies in the numbers of one detail. One thing that quite literally makes or breaks a hotel experience, one thing that defines the future of a hotel, one detail no hotelier can ignore: Guest engagement.
While every hotelier has heard of it and is cognizant of its long lasting effects, most are struggling to boost these standards. Guest engagement is essential for any hotel. In fact, even one bad experience can lead to a guest abandoning the hotel altogether.
There are multiple aspects to a great guest engagement strategy:
- Well designed
- Well executed
- Well recalled
- Well acknowledged
- Well planned
- Well rounded
In order to create a memorable guest engagement journey, it is important to have a well designed strategy in place, supported by quality execution. Every step of the guest journey needs to be pre-planned to ensure maximum engagement with minimal hassles.
Technology has become so integral to our lives that it’s hard to imagine a day without it. And with good reason: It’s a tool that can help us simplify our lives and connect with others. But what about hotels? While technology can be a great way to connect with guests, it can also be a distraction. And when a guest is distracted, they’re less likely to stay in the hotel.
That’s where engagement strategies come in. Engagement strategies are designed to keep guests connected to the hotel and their experience there. And the best way to do that is with technology.
What are the Hurdles Hotels Need to Cross?
Hurdle 1: Lack of labor
Hospitality has traditionally been rooted in human to human contact. But with the recent changes in the industry, there is a shift in the way hospitality is being defined. (Want to read more about that? Check out this blog on digital hospitality) This is especially important due to the rising labor shortages. As the number of staff goes down, the amount of work per person goes up. This results in staff being unable to fully engage and actively work on improving guest engagement because they’re often caught up (if not burnt out) to fully take on the range of guest engagement functions.
From the UK to Thailand, shortage of skilled workers is a major cause of concern. In fact, in a survey by the American Hotel & Lodging Association, a whopping 97% of 500 hotels reported staffing shortages.
Hurdle 2: A transformative shift in guest needs
Among the other things the pandemic has transformed, guest needs and expectations are probably the most significant for hoteliers. Guests have collectively moved towards a minimal contact, maximum efficiency way of life. There is an expectation on all service providers like hotels to be equipped to deal with minimal phone calls, minimal guest-hotel staff interactions and maximum optimisation to ensure rapid turnaround times. This shift in guest behavior has resulted in hotels needing to adapt immediately, or risk losing guests.
Hurdle 3: Lack of strategy
Quite possibly the most difficult hurdle to jump over, adding the right strategy to every step of the guest journey is key to building the best possible guest engagement. What this means is an analysis of guest behaviors, hotel services, the staff competencies and more need to be taken into account in creating a guest journey that maximizes guest engagement with minimal hassles for both guest and hotel.
Defining a great guest engagement strategy is not a one solution fits all situation. But a solution that is seeing a rapid rise is AI. Solutions with technology are all the more popular due to its inescapable nature.
So What can Technology do?
Removing hurdle 1: Lack of labor
In helping with the staff shortage, the purpose of the technology is two-fold. On one hand, the automation of repetitive tasks helps free up some of the time for the staff. The other aspect is the ease of assigning tasks through smart management tools, simplified communication tools and compiled analytics to ensure the right numbers.
Through virtual check-in solutions, automated FAQs, automatic upselling solutions and more, technology eases the pressure and optimizes productivity. This also makes it easier to keep guests well reminded of what is happening at the property. This can be done through regular updates on guests’ preferred chat platforms. If done well, these reminders will help to keep guests connected to the property and increase their chances of returning.
Removing hurdle 2: A transformative shift in guest needs
6.6 billion people own a smartphone, a tool that cannot be ignored in crafting guest engagement. One of the most significant aspects of the pandemic was the role of technology in maintaining connections during lockdown. This has transferred into the post-pandemic world as contactless has taken priority. Partly due to the effects of the pandemic, this is also driven by the ease of life with tech-integrations. The shortened turn around times, omnipresent nature of technology accessible through smartphones and reduced effort for the guest to engage with the hotel are just a few of the reasons technology is a perfect solution.
Removing hurdle 3: Lack of strategy
A well planned engagement strategy is key to ensuring that guests stay connected and excited about their stay. This involves considering both the short and long term goals of the property. For example, if a hotel is trying to boost customer retention, it may want to focus on creating a unique guest engagement experience that is different from other properties in the area. Alternatively, if a hotel is looking to boost sales during busy periods, it may want to focus on reminding guests about deals and discounts available.
Finally, it is important to make sure that guests are reminded about the property’s amenities and services. This can be done through regular updates, social media campaigns, or special notifications in the hotel lobby. If done well, these reminders will help to keep guests connected to the property and increase their chances of returning.
According to a recent study by Hotel Technology, 73% of guests surveyed are likely to return to a hotel that meets their technology needs, highlighting the significance of technology in guest satisfaction. As they say, the future is now. Especially for the hotel industry. An unimaginable slew of changes has taken the hotel industry by storm. But the ones to survive this storm are hotels that adapt to technology based solutions.
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.