Hotels now compete with Airbnb and other alternative lodging options because of the personality and personalization of these hospitality experiences. To stay competitive, hotels must create ways to make each guest experience feel more tailored and unique.
It’s a payoff for everyone if hotels decide to take extra measures to step away from a cookie-cutter existence. If a travel brand tailors its information and overall trip and customer experience based on personal preferences or past behavior, 36% of guests would be likely to pay more for their services.
Generally speaking, when people stay at hotels, it’s typically for two reasons: business or pleasure. Business travelers seek efficiency and flexibility as plans change. They also value guest experience through amenities like free WiFi, use of conference space, larger desks and phones in the room, and shuttles to the airport and to different areas within the metro.
Leisure travelers, on the other hand, want to feel relaxed and taken care of, welcomed and rewarded for the time and money it’s taken for them to get to this location. This customer experience starts with the hotel’s first interaction with the guest, whether that’s online or in-person, and continues throughout the duration of the stay. 57% of U.S. travelers feel brands should tailor their information based on personal preferences or past behaviors.
However, the one thing both business and leisure travelers want, and every hotel should aim to achieve is delight. Guests want to be delighted with their stay. “Good” stays typically don’t equate to loyal guests. But experiences, where the guests felt delight, are something they’ll talk about, share with their friends and family, and return for again.
A customized guest experience must be delivered at the beginning, middle, and end of each stay. To begin, start with audience segmentation.
Utilize Email Marketing and Audience Segmentation
A customized guest experience starts with how hotels market and brand themselves online. Decide how you want to position yourself by season and by group. For example, are you speaking to couples or families? Solo travelers or friends looking for a getaway? Are you trying to reach an audience booking a stay for spring break or an extended summer vacation?
The answer is possibly: all of the above.
While your hotel’s amenities may benefit each of these types of guest, how do each of these groups rank your amenities in terms of value? For example, a special promotion offering a weekend stay plus entry to a local theme park may be the most enticing to families. While anyone is eligible to take advantage of the offer, you’d likely promote it to families specifically. This is where audience segmentation comes into play. It allows you to “get to know” and speak directly to your guests, even if it’s through your hotel’s online platform.
Use the data you have to segment your audiences by groups. From there, you can promote the types of packages that may interest them most. That family of four likely isn’t going to be as interested in the hottest nightclubs in your city as the group of friends looking for a getaway. Customize the messaging. Tailor your CTAs.
Additionally, there will be times when you’ll want to include your entire email list. This applies when you have a new feature to announce, a seasonal special, or anything that provides more generalized information about your hotel’s offerings for the ultimate guest experience. The goal is to deliver the right message, to the right audience, at the right time.
Aligning Front of House and Marketing Teams
Hotel marketers create yearly and quarterly, strategic plans that outline the ideas and tactics they will use to attract and convert potential and returning customers. Both the front of the house and hospitality marketing teams must wear several hats. Many times, these teams don’t have the full resources or manpower to tackle the tactical strategies that would lead to more return or referral visitors.
Aligning the marketing team and the hospitality staff that interacts with guests is critical and in many cases, isn’t a top priority. But it should be! It’s important to identify opportunities to connect with guests at every level of their stay.
If your hospitality marketing team is promoting beautiful scenery, impeccably decorated guest rooms, and one-of-a-kind guest experiences through social media, content, and email marketing, wouldn’t it be a disappointment for the customer to not experience the same in person, when they arrive?
Track your marketing efforts to better understand what your audience responds best to online. Then, share these findings with the management team to ensure the seamless delivery of the service, amenity, or event. For example, does your online audience appreciate your unique guest room decor? If so, then ensure every guest room (regardless of size) is on brand with the special touches that guests are going to expect upon check-in.
Leave a Lasting Impression
A guest’s lasting impression of your hotel is nearly as, if not more, important than the first. Even if you get off to a rocky start, there is still time to cement a lasting, positive impression. Many hotels send auto-emails asking about the check-in process. This gives guests an opportunity to rate their first impression and it gives hotels a chance to remedy any hiccup situations right away.
Your hotel’s concierge or front office staff should be proactive in giving area recommendations, make dinner reservations, schedule shuttles, etc. These are all things that will help the guest feel more welcome, attended to, and excited about their stay.
A customized guest experience may also include a one-sheet list of city highlights for the days of the stay. Also, simple name personalization or extra touches, like a surprise treat that represents your city or hotel brand will help your brand be memorable and leave a lasting impression.
Finally, when the guest checks out, ask how they enjoyed their stay and invite them back again soon. Overall, the more consistency there is during the guest experience, the more favorable the result will be!