Communicating with hotel guests is the hallmark of brand loyalty. If guests don’t feel emotionally connected to your brand, they could choose to stay elsewhere in the future and be swayed by factors like location, price, or amenities. In order to forge a meaningful experience that will resonate with guests and turn them into fans for life, hotel employees should focus on authentic in-person interactions – and personalised online communication, too. In this blog post, we cover a few hotel guest communication tips for improving interactions, which will keep your guests happy and encourage brand loyalty and repeat bookings.
Explore 8 hotel guest communication tips every hotelier should know:
1. Be proactive
Being proactive means knowing what your guest wants out of their stay, and then taking it to the next level by exceeding their expectations. Anticipate guests’ needs by finding out why they’re staying with you. Maybe they’re travelling with children or maybe they’re in town for a bachelorette party. This gives you the opportunity to pre-stock their room with amenities and perks – like kid’s toys and treats or champagne, in the case of a special occasion – to make their stay more memorable.
For example, business travellers or event attendees might need help arranging transportation, finding a nearby restaurant for a business meeting, or locating a cafe or coffee shop for remote working. With a pre-stay email and survey, you can find out specific needs or requests and be ready to accommodate them when the guest arrives.
Streamline processes to eliminate anything that could cause a negative experience. This includes things like guests’ check-in and check-out process, requesting additional items from the front desk, room service, or any other touchpoint. Make it as easy as possible for them to get what they need and enjoy their stay. If they had a previous issue, maybe consider upgrading their room this time to make up for it.
Software exists to help with this. Called an SO (service optimisation) platform, it allows information about a guest’s experience to be collected in one place so you can evaluate their current stay and be prepared to give them exactly what they want for future stays.
2. Be responsive
Respond quickly to complaints and negative comments, but also good ones. It’s crucial that you or someone on your team interacts with your online followers in real-time to make a personal connection. If someone mentions your hotel in a tweet or tags you in an Instagram post, comment to thank them. If you come across negative reviews or complaints, likely on platforms like Facebook or TripAdvisor, apologise publicly and move the conversation privately to arrive at a solution. “It’s how you deal with the complaint that will resonate, not what went wrong in the first place.”
Consider having a live chat service so you can be available to guests if they have questions during the booking process or at any point throughout their stay. But when it comes to customer service, speed isn’t everything. According to a study by Kayako on live chat trends and insights, 95% of consumers say they prefer slower support if it means the quality of help is higher.
In your live chat or when answering social media comments, avoid canned responses at all costs. This is your opportunity to set yourself apart as a brand. Offer personalised, high-quality responses that focus on forging a personal connection with each guest. That authenticity and attention to detail will make a huge difference when it comes to their decision to book a repeat stay.
3. Establish a cadence of regular communication
Establish early contact with a guest and maintain a regular level of communication during their entire journey. As soon as they book their stay, send a welcome email with a reservation confirmation and a few tips for their trip. Send regular email reminders before their check-in date to keep them excited about their trip and assure them that you’re focussed on delivering a positive experience.
When the guest arrives on property, continue that same level of enthusiastic support and cheerful customer service. Once the guest leaves, send thank-you emails personalised with things specific to their trip — like if they saw particular local attractions or used certain amenities. It’ll make their recall of the trip a positive one.
4. Empower your employees
Your front-of-house hotel staff members are the face of the brand. Their attitudes and interactions with the guests will be one of the deciding factors in whether or not the guests will return in the future. Excellent customer service is the bread and butter of the hospitality industry and it’s where your hotel has the chance to shine, especially when 89% of businesses compete through the quality of customer experience they’re able to provide.
Customer service training is crucial to winning new business. Delighting guests and going above and beyond their already-high expectations may cause them to promote your hotel for you, with good reviews and word-of-mouth referrals. Define and demonstrate what customer service means for your brand and arrange staff training on a regular basis to keep their skills fresh.
Encourage your employees to not only talk to and interact with guests but also share what they learn with other hotel staff. Give employees access to the information they need in order to be informative to guests and provide the best experience possible. Whether that’s during a few minutes at the beginning of a staff meeting or through group chats in your internal communications app – give staff the opportunity to share the VIP guest preferences they discover and the customer service best practices they find most successful.
5. Provide personalised communication and authentic interactions
Each interaction with the guest – whether it’s before they book their stay, during, or after they leave – should be infused with personalisation and authenticity. Encourage your staff to start conversations with guests. Ask them why they’re in town and what they’re looking to get out of their stay. Staff can then provide personalised suggestions of local activities or things to see based on the guests’ interests.
Online interactions should be equally as authentic and genuine as in-person ones. Stay on-brand in your replies to emails and comments, but don’t be afraid to show a little personality and a human side. People want to talk to other people, not a machine. And, people can tell when you’re copy/pasting your responses versus when they’re genuine, thought-out replies.
Once a guest makes a reservation, send them a personalised welcome email with all the information they need to know prior to coming to your hotel. Email reminders spur excitement and keep the guest eagerly anticipating their stay. Right before they arrive, send another email including any tips about your local area or property. Consider adding a pre-stay survey or giving the guest the space to make any last-minute special requests that they might have forgotten to mention. These kinds of forms will help you get to know your guest and to provide a tailored experience for them.
Have a personalised treat for a returning guest based on what you already know about what they like and what they need. A customer relationship management (CRM) tool can help your hotel keep track of how customers choose certain add-ons and amenities based on their travel type and needs. This can allow you to not only personalise their stay, but also offer them relevant upsells or promotions to entice repeat bookings.
6. Encourage good reviews
A bad last impression is worse than a bad first one, said Adele Gutman of the Library Hotel Collection in an article for Business Insider. It’s called the “peak-end rule” – so eliminate any surprises when guests pay the bill, to avoid leaving them with a bad last impression.
For garnering positive reviews, Gutman says it’s all about the personal connection. “If you manage to connect with every single guest, you’ve given yourself an insurance policy against bad reviews because they’re not likely to say something negative about somebody who’s their friend.”
According to TripAdvisor, 93% of people use online reviews when they’re deciding which hotel they want to book. If you’re not focussing on gaining good reviews, you’re missing out. In that same survey, 53% of people would not book a hotel that didn’t have online reviews. Especially with Millennials, this kind of user-generated content impacts whether or not they decide to purchase something. According to Ipsos, 68% trust peer reviews and 53% are influenced by user-generated content.
7. Be available and keep lines of communication open
Make your guests feel heard. Give them the opportunity to ask questions, provide feedback, and make requests at all times. If you aren’t able to have a 24-hour front desk service, use a chatbot or FAQ page to field questions and act as a substitute in the interim while your staff is off the clock. For example, Edwardian Hotels London uses a chatbot named “Edward” to fulfil guest needs, like requests for more towels, room service, or information about the area.
Messaging apps, like Facebook messenger or WhatsApp, are another way to keep the lines of communication open with guests. A singular employee can interact with multiple guests at the same time, rather than one guest at a time over the phone. And, there’s a record of all the guest information housed within the chat conversation to keep track of guest history for future reference.
You can also create your own branded app unique to your hotel. It can include things like a chat feature for guests to ask questions and make requests, access to an FAQ page, information about their reservation, and transportation requests.
Keep track of the questions that are asked or frequently made requests. It might give you clues about similar pain points during the guest experience and ways to improve overall.
8. Monitor guest satisfaction during their stay
It’s easy to assume your guests are enjoying their stay, unless you hear otherwise. But sometimes, guests won’t speak up, and hotels won’t know something went wrong until they read their bad online review. Taking your guests’ temperature throughout their stay and seizing every opportunity to make sure their needs are met can go a long way to improving their experience — and eliminating those negative reviews later.
Find engagement points to communicate with guests in a natural way. Ask them how their day of sightseeing went, or if they enjoyed their room service or hotel spa treatment. This gives employees an organic opening to ask the guest if they need anything else to make their stay more enjoyable. Or, as Gutman suggests, provide snacks and freebies in the hotel lounge. It’s not only a nice perk for guests, but it gives employees a chance to engage and find out if there is something the guest is too shy to ask for or to prevent any complaints before they happen.
Put these hotel guest communication tips to good use!
Remember, how you communicate with your guests can make all the difference when it comes to brand loyalty and future bookings.