Guest Experience: The Importance and Demands of Modern Guests
Today, to be competitive in the hospitality industry, hotels must provide much more than a clean room. They must create an impression. The guest experience is the driving force that engages travelers to book, creates fond memories, and convinces them to return.
However, in recent years, providing the right experience has become a priority goal. As traveler expectations and behavior change at the speed of light, hoteliers must adapt quickly or risk being left behind.
“Hotels that prioritize the guest experience during the economic downturn will be able to outperform their competitors for years to come. A smart investment in guest experience can be the key to the survival and prosperity of the industry,” says Nikolai Beloshitsky, Hoteza CEO.
In this article, we'll look at the basics of guest engagement for any type of property, the role of technology in serving today's travelers, and strategies for using it to increase customer loyalty.
What is a guest experience?
The guest experience is the totality of the guest's interactions with the hotel and staff during the entire stay. The bulk of guest interaction takes place at the hotel, from check-in to check-out, but it also includes pre- and post-stay experiences.
At every stage of interaction with the hotel, guests form an impression of their experience, which helps them decide whether to recommend the hotel to others and whether to return in the future. Therefore, it is a top priority for accommodation operators to ensure that these interactions are enjoyable, efficient and hassle-free.
The concept of "customer experience" was popularized over twenty years ago in the 1999 book The Experience Economy by B. Joseph Pine II and James H. Gilmour. The authors argue that in order to connect with customers and ensure their loyalty, companies must not only offer products and services that can quickly become commodities, but also provide a unique experience. The value of this experience is that customers can buy it at a higher price.
The Importance of Guest Experience in 2023
During the pandemic, hotels have reduced staff and services to minimize costs while implementing safety protocols for a smooth travel experience. As fears subsided, most of these protocols were canceled, but some decisions have confidently taken their place in the post-COVID period and, it seems, will not give up positions. Contactless services, messaging and self-service have become an integral part of the modern guest experience.
Despite the fact that in the last 3 years travel has become not as simple and frequent as everyone would like it to be, the expectations and requirements of modern travelers continue to grow, which means that the main task of hotels is to take them into account and try to meet them. This is the only way to become the best in the market in this difficult time.
Stages of guest experience
Regardless of the hotel category, the stages will be as follows:
Stage 1. Before your stay
This is an important stage that forms the expectations of the guests. What they will be depends not only on beautiful photos or reviews, but also on communication with the guest even before his arrival. This may be personalized marketing messages or the possibility of self-registration. This approach will enable both parties to learn more about each other and prepare for the meeting in advance.
Stage 2. During your stay
The moment of truth is when expectations meet reality. This stage includes the arrival of the guest before his departure. Here, the experience can vary greatly depending on the services offered and the availability of automated and personalized interactive solutions.
Stage 3. After the stay
After the departure of the guests, the hotel must remain in touch with the guests. These can be special offers, responses to reviews or questions, an invitation to join a loyalty program or subscribe to social networks.
Technology trends and guest experience. Technology is changing the guest experience. “In the post-pandemic world, guests are becoming more independent and increasingly dependent on technology,” says Nikolai Beloshitsky, Hoteza CEO.
Here are just a few of the technology trends that are changing the way you interact with guests:
• Automation. Automated functions are part of most technologies, allowing you to perform tasks that would normally be performed by employees. This helps to ease the burden on hotel staff, increase productivity, free employees from routine tasks and devote more time to guests.
• Self-service. During the pandemic, hotel guests have become much more independent. More guests can now check in, enter their rooms and order food using only their smartphones. And all this without the help of employees. For many traveler The availability of such solutions is a priority when choosing a hotel.
• Contactless services. The pandemic has also increased the demand for contactless services such as self-check-in and contactless payments.
• Guest messages. A convenient way to minimize personal communication with those guests who are more comfortable communicating online. The guest messaging feature in the web or mobile apps allows you to respond to guests' questions as soon as possible, as well as send marketing offers to increase additional sales.
• Cloud Management Systems (PMS). To connect all these applications, more hotels are turning to a cloud-based, integrated PMS platform that integrates data and technology to enable staff to provide a guest experience.
Guest experience is the main indicator of the quality of service in the hotel business. For guests to return, the experience must be unforgettable. To do this, you need to know your guest, understand their needs, travel style and give them what they expect at every stage of their interaction with you. Positive guest experiences also affect online reputation, which in turn will lead to more new and repeat stays.
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