October 05, 2023
By Kim Campbell

Guest preferences constantly evolve, and keeping up with the latest travel trends isn’t always easy. In 2023, we saw the continued rise of digital nomads, an increased focus on wellness travel, and consumers’ growing demand for sustainable and socially responsible tourism. Has your property kept up? Even if it feels like you’re on the right track, if customers don’t confirm, can you really be sure? Although some travelers will confidently express their questions, comments, or concerns, others will check in and out without communicating anything about their stay.

To better understand the value of guest feedback, we’re taking a closer look at what makes guest surveys an integral part of hotel management. From operations and guest service to sales and maintenance, guest feedback can impact every aspect of the business. In this post, you’ll discover what surveys are, why they’re so important, and how to create engaging guest surveys that benefit your venue.

What is a guest survey?

Guest surveys are helpful, informative tools that hotels, venues, and other businesses use to elicit customer feedback. Customer-facing companies often send guest surveys to assess how satisfied consumers are with their products, collect improvement recommendations, or dissect various aspects of the customer experience. Hotels may send surveys to in-house visitors, loyalty members, event attendees, recently checked-out travelers, and other types of hotel guests. Venues also use surveys as a retargeting tool to connect with online consumers who visited their website without completing a booking.

Surveys and other guest engagement tools, like social media questionnaires or live polling, make it easier for venues to connect with consumers at every stage of the booking process. To improve the guest experience, your hotel may:

  1. Send a survey prior to arrival to determine a guest’s preferences or unique needs. Do they need a quiet room? Are they sensitive to perfume or other allergens?
  2. Text a short one-question survey shortly after check-in to assess the efficiency of their arrival. Did their room meet their standards?
  3. Reach out to the guest after checkout to inquire about their stay and satisfaction levels. What did they like? Dislike? What do they want to see in the future?

Guests are a hotel’s most valuable resource. Of course, their dollars keep the venue in business, but their feedback might be even more helpful. Honest consumer feedback helps hotels identify and fix minor issues before they become major complaints. Constructive criticism is an incredible tool that can inspire change, causing hotels to shift strategies and focus on what guests really want from a hotel.

Why are guest surveys important?

The way that hotel guests prefer to communicate with others and the world around them varies from person to person. While some travelers will immediately bring an issue to the attention of hotel staff, more reserved guests may wait until after checkout, mentioning their concerns in an online review—if at all. The value of utilizing polls, questionnaires, and other guest survey tools cannot be understated, as hotels can use them to:

  • Garner candid feedback. A 2019 study from Hotel Management concluded that guests only report hotel issues that impact their stay 25% of the time, with the most common reason being that there was no simple, quick way to do it. 45% of survey respondents also stated they prefer to report a problem through a hotel messaging or app or via text rather than in person or a phone call. Venues that utilize digital surveys and mobile feedback apps are more likely to get honest feedback from their guests.
  • Increase guest satisfaction. Consumers want to feel seen—and heard. They want to do business with brands that appreciate their values, style, and personalized preferences. Sending a quick pre-arrival survey makes it easier for the hotel to accommodate special requests, reducing the risk of an upset after check-in. However, should visitors experience a problem, in-stay surveys make it easier for the venue to recognize and rectify the concern during the guest’s stay. Things are bound to go wrong from time to time, but working with guests to fix them right away can lead to increased customer loyalty and lifelong guest relationships.
  • Personalize the guest experience. The more you know your guests and target demographics, the more personalized you can make their stay experience. Using pre-arrival feedback, hotels can create an immersive, tailored travel experience for guests before they arrive. Understanding how a particular guest prefers their room to be set up or how they like to be greeted upon arrival can go a long way toward leaving a memorable impression on them. Place comment cards inconspicuously on lobby tables or place a short questionnaire in each room before check-in, instructing guests where to drop off their comments. In addition to catching minor issues before they snowball, addressing real-time concerns makes it easier for team members to handle complex guest complaints more effectively.

How guest surveys can benefit your business

Businesses can use consumer feedback to create better products, improve their services, and give customers what they want. Working with surveys is incredibly advantageous to both venues and their visitors. Take advantage of guest feedback and use it to:

1. Attract more visitors. Discover if business, leisure, or bleisure travel dominates your area. Which hotel booking channels does each market segment prefer? Reinvest in the most active booking channels, using them to promote captivating and targeted marketing campaigns.

2. Identify better guest communication channels. How do current guests and members of your target audience prefer to book hotel reservations? While some travelers exclusively book through the hotel app, other guests prefer working with brand reservations. Different types of hotel guests have diverse communication styles. Although some guests may feel uncomfortable complaining to an employee, others may only feel comfortable expressing their concerns via text message or hotel chatbot. Use surveys to identify guests’ communication preferences and ensure your venue meets travelers’ needs.

3. Increase profits. Although different types of travelers value various aspects of a hotel stay, one trend spans most traveler demographics: guests will pay more for the hotel services and amenities they care most about. Regardless of your region or primary traveler demographics, your hotel can maximize profits by improving offerings and raising prices to match.

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4. Improve hotel policies. Use guest surveys to identify which hotel policies are well-communicated and which are not. Look for issues tied to a lack of policy communication, such as running out of parking spaces, which could result from failing to allocate parking passes diligently. Is there congestion during breakfast? Would providing on-the-go breakfast bags help reduce dining traffic during the early hours?

5. Boost ratings. Reviews are critical to hotel success, and positive reviews can help your property appear higher in search results. Additionally, when choosing between two or more comparable hotels, 79% of consumers are more likely to select the property with the highest guest ratings. Approximately two-thirds of happy customers consider leaving a review for a business or product, so keeping guests happy is key. Detailed guest reviews are also a fantastic resource for garnering guest feedback. Regularly read and respond to guest reviews to increase the hotel’s online reputation, optimize search results, and identify minor issues before they balloon.

6. Create loyal customers. Build a committed consumer base by demonstrating that the hotel is committed to its customers and continuously improving the guest experience. Work hard to implement the services, products, and amenities that survey respondents request. When guests share their candid feedback, problems, or concerns through surveys, show a steadfast dedication to correcting them.

7. Uncover new business. Boost local business by uncovering new accounts in your own backyard. Shift corporate market share by connecting with transient travelers in your area, driving them to your property instead of nearby competitors. Survey transient guests about their professional travel needs and neighborhood business relationships. Ask about their current business needs and if they anticipate changes coming down the pipeline. If a new company is opening nearby, major corporations are merging, or union negotiations are imminent for regional industries, reading guest surveys could help your hotel be the first to know about it.

8. Boost your reputation. Build a reputation as a hotel and brand that listens to customers, takes accountability for its mistakes, and is committed to improvement. Use survey responses to determine which patrons view your business as a hotel-only, who sees your property as a premier meeting location, and how other visitors perceive your hotel. If most guests see you as only a hotel, take the opportunity to increase your event marketing efforts to strengthen your reputation as an event venue.

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How to create a guest survey

Consumer surveys come in many shapes and sizes, designed to appeal to a wide range of companies and customers. While your brand image might be minimalistic and chic, another hotel may offer a quirkier, more creative atmosphere. Whatever your style, there’s a survey to match. With loads of free online templates available to help, it’s easy to get started.

If it’s your first time creating a guest survey, have no fear; the process is as easy as 1, 2, 3—4!

1. Identify your objective

Establish the goal of your survey and determine what you hope to get from guest responses. Are you seeking general, honest feedback about the stay experience your hotel offers, or are you looking for help with a specific task? Outline a specific survey objective, such as:

  • Identify the primary factors resulting in late cancellations.
  • Assess guests’ perception of hotel text messaging.
  • Determine what percentage of guests dine in the hotel restaurant.

Gather information based on your core objective, diving deeper as you learn more. For example, if survey results show that only 40% of guests are dining onsite, your hotel might want to send a follow-up survey to discover why.

2. Select questions that serve your goal

Open-ended questions yield vastly different responses than closed-ended or task-based inquiries, so fill guest surveys with questions that elicit the information you want. If the hotel has renovations coming up, ask specific questions about amenity and guestroom technology preferences. This information will help the hotel better allocate resources to elements guests care about most. Do you want to create a more welcoming lobby atmosphere? Launch a social media contest inviting guests to describe the most welcoming hotel they’ve ever visited.

3. Send the survey

Now that you’ve established a goal and selected the questions to include in your survey, it’s time to put the whole thing together and send it out. Determine how and when you want customers to receive the survey (e.g., pre-arrival, in-house, post-checkout). Email, social media pages, and website prompts are effective guest survey vehicles, but keep your target audience in mind when picking a distribution channel. In addition to standard survey templates, your venue can use various other tools to gather guest feedback, including:

  • Comment cards
  • One-click ad surveys
  • Social media surveys
  • Branded questionnaires
  • Mobile polling

4. Monitor the results

Keep track of results and monitor consumer engagement with guest survey software for hotels. Guest feedback management software makes it easy for venues to create, send, manage, and track surveys. Analyze guest engagement, reduce negative reviews, track hotel goals, and boost staff accountability with organized survey management.

See which content styles and templates guests interact with most and which channels get the highest response rates. Show your appreciation for guest participation by demonstrating a constant dedication to improving the experience your venue provides.

You’re ready to start sending guest surveys!

Now that you know how to create guest surveys that suit your needs, you can start uncovering mountains of advantageous information. And the more guests you communicate with, the better!

In data collection, quality and quantity are both important; guest surveys follow the same logic. The more surveys your hotel has to review, the greater access it has to valuable guest information. Next, we explore a variety of strategies, tactics, and actionable tips your venue can use to increase customer survey response rates.

Headshot of Cvent writer Kimberly Campbell

Kim Campbell

Kim is a full-time copy and content writer with many years of experience in the hospitality industry. She entered the hotel world in 2013 as a housekeeping team member and worked her way through various departments before being appointed to Director of Sales. Kim has championed numerous successful sales efforts, revenue strategies, and marketing campaigns — all of which landed her a spot on Hotel Management Magazine’s “Thirty Under 30” list.

Don’t be fooled though; she’s not all business! An avid forest forager, post-apocalyptic fiction fan, and free-sample-fiend, Kim prides herself on being well-rounded.

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