By John Shortall on August 24, 2015 at 8:30 AM
Today, people expect a lot more of the people they do business with. This includes the hotels they stay at. It is not enough for your hotel to provide efficient customer service, a good price and luxurious amenities. You must also forge an emotional connection with your guests. Service, price and amenities may get new customers to book a room for their first visit, but the emotional bond that they form during their stay will keep them coming back regardless of price. So show your guests a little love, and they will return again and again.
This is born out by Gallup's 2014 Hospitality Industry study. It defines a fully engaged guest as one who is emotionally attached to the hotel's brand. The report concludes that these guests are less sensitive to price, will make repeat visits and will spend more money. Creating fully engaged guests by forging an emotion bond is the best strategy to increase revenue according to this report.
The question: how can your hotel create a stronger emotional connections with your guests during their stay?
[fa icon="arrow-right"] Create Meaningful Experiences
Guests are looking for meaning and authentic experiences. They want more than efficiency from their hotel; they want it to be a part of their travel experience. For example, during breakfast, the staff could organize some ice-breaker games in order to get people to form a little community during their stay. Other social events like game nights or movies could be organized as well. You could also leverage the regional distinctiveness of your hotel to create a unique experience for your guests. You want to make their stay as memorable as possible. You have to be more than just be a generic place to stay.
[fa icon="arrow-right"] Make It Personal
Your guests are more than room assignments. Use their names, track their preferences and make sure to do something to connect on a more personal level during their stay. Listen to their needs and try to provide exactly what they are looking for. And always be courteous and respectful.
[fa icon="arrow-right"] Anticipate Needs
To be truly personal, you want to anticipate your guests' needs. If you know they are in town for a business meeting, you might provide some stationary and easy access to the business center to facilitate their work. Provide information on local attractions for guests that are clearly tourists. This shows that you are paying attention and that you really care. You might also reference a guest's previous stay in order to identify what they might want during their stay.
[fa icon="arrow-right"] Create Empathy
Train your staff by showing them what being pampered feels like. Give them a night in your hotel for free so they can experience things from the guest's point of view. This increased empathy will change how they interact with guests.
[fa icon="arrow-right"] Keep Tabs on Social Media
Ask your guests to follow your hotel on social media. Give them frequent updates about what is happening the hotel and the local community. Follow your brand mentions on social media. If a guest is complaining about their experience while they are staying at your hotel, respond and work hard to make it right.
It may take a little more effort, but focusing on creating emotional connections will pay big dividends with guests. When they connect, they are going to return again and again. In addition, they will become brand ambassadors by sharing their positive experience with their friends. Having an effective property management system like Frontdesk Anywhere will free up your staff so they can show your guests a little more love.
You can read more about what social media platforms your hotel should use here.