By Adam Hoydysh, Vice President of Hotel Sales at Plum
When it comes to curating an exceptional guest experience from top to bottom, pre-stay to post-stay, hoteliers must pay mind to a number of factors and touch-points. What matters most to guests? Is it the property itself? Is it the local experience? Is it the room? Do they crave a more high-tech experience, or traditional high-touch service? What inspires guest loyalty in 2019?
Within the modern hospitality climate, hotels are expected to offer a balance between high-tech and high-touch service, a personalized experience with data-backed insights, a share-worthy property aesthetic, mobile communications, luxury upgrades and so much more. And yet, a quick glance through TripAdvisor reviews will reinforce the understanding that, when it comes to hospitality, the bottom line is just as important as those more obvious elements of a guests’ stay. You know what they say; the devil is in the details, and the guest experience is no exception.
Gone are the days where travelers are simply looking for a roof over their head and a bed to sleep in. Whether traveling for business or pleasure, guests today crave an enhanced, novel experience that either encompasses all the comforts of home (and more) or allows them to indulge in uncommon luxury. What does this mean? Well, just as hotels need to invest in their property, their staff and their operational technology, they absolutely have to invest in their amenities.
In fact, PwC’s Consumer Intelligence Series Report on hotel brand loyalty revealed that room quality is the #1 reason both business and leisure travelers choose a hotel.
Let’s put this theory to work. In the first scenario, imagine you’ve checked-in to your hotel which features a modern, sprawling lobby, speedy self-service check-in and friendly, thoughtful staff. As you make your way to your room, you take in the surrounding view while a staff member tells you about an incredible restaurant on the property that you must try while visiting. Once you enter your room, you set aside your luggage and scan your surroundings. The room is clean and laid out nicely, but you’re disappointed to realize there is no in-room coffee maker. As you make your way to the bathroom, you also notice that you’ve only been given one small bar of soap to be used between the sink and the shower. You shrug this off, kick off your shoes and take a seat on the bed to turn on the TV. Unfortunately, you only have access to 10 or so channels and none of them seem to be playing anything of interest. Naturally, you turn over to your phone to connect to the hotel Wi-Fi and scroll through social media, but the Wi-Fi seems to be spotty and pages simply aren’t loading as quickly as they should. At this point, it’s getting late and you realize you haven’t eaten since the flight, so you skim through the room service menu and decide on a glass of Cab Merlot, steak and vegetables. Around 20 minutes later, you finally hear a knock at your door and intercept your dinner along with a cling-wrapped glass of wine.
Now, let’s consider a second scenario. Your check-in process remains the same, only when you arrive at your room you realize it’s equipped with an in-room Nespresso as well as an in-room wine appliance. Your bathroom is decked out with high-end shampoo and body wash, and the TV even has complimentary Netflix. The Wi-Fi is free and fast, and you’ve even been provided with an in-room iPad to control features such as the TV, alarms, lighting and temperature. Even better? Rather than waiting for your glass of wine to arrive with dinner, you’re able to serve up a glass immediately, using the in-room wine appliance.
While the hotel in both scenarios manages to capitalize on a positive property experience, the first hotel is lacking in terms of in-room amenities. Sure, these might seem like minor details in theory, but let’s face it, guests often judge a hotel by the amenities it keeps. Ask yourself — if you were the guest, which experience would you be more likely to rave about to friends and family, or write a positive review about? Ultimately, those hotels which invest in high-end amenities are making a brand statement that modern guests are extremely receptive to, and which contribute to a memorable stay.
After all, in an age where consumer loyalty is especially difficult to earn, it becomes more important than ever before for companies to go above and beyond in their delivery of customer service. For those hotels hoping to curate a more luxurious guest experience, this could mean:
- Complimentary pick-up/drop-off chauffeur service
- Plum in-room wine on demand
- Complimentary Netflix or streaming service on a SmartTV
- Extra charging ports and/or an in-room iPad
- Alexa or Google voice-activated assistant
- Pillow menu
Ultimately, paying mind to the bottom line to curate a seamless and thoughtful guest experience (throughout every touch-point) allows guests to feel comfortable and at home, while experiencing memorable luxury both in-room and on the property. While this may represent one piece of the guest satisfaction puzzle, amenities represent an important opportunity to invest in an enhanced guest experience and truly differentiate your hotel.