In spite of the impressive growth of loyalty programs and the stacks of membership cards we all have in our wallets, travelers don’t want to be just a number in a business’ computer. Hotel guests want to be recognized as individuals with unique tastes when they check in, and throughout their stay.
While it used to be hard to personalize the guest experience, the abundance of information that guests share both directly and indirectly with hotels has made it easier than ever to learn what a guest’s preferences are, and to personalize their stay to their tastes.
1. Use the property management system and loyalty program to keep notes on what guests like (or don’t like).
This is probably the easiest way to make sure that guests’ preferences are noted, and employees know what a guest likes or dislikes. Every member of the hotel team should pay attention to guest comments and record preferences in the customer profile. Did they say they prefer a certain brand of water over another? Write it down so that the staff knows to have a few bottles waiting in their room. It’s a small expense, but they’ll appreciate the gesture and will be much more likely to book a return visit.
2. Connect on social media
Positive social buzz is worth its weight in gold. When guests – or potential guests – tag the hotel, or even mention it in a public post on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram, respond as quickly as possible and use the opportunity to find ways to make their stay special. Ask if they’re coming for a special occasion or if they are looking forward to something during the stay. Any information they share can be inspiration for a personalized touch. If a guest tweets that they’re craving cupcakes, bring one up to the room. Cost to the property? Maybe $5. Having your mastery of customer service shared over social media? Priceless.
3. Look up their hotel reviews and see what they’ve complained about in the past.
This may take a bit more time and effort, but it can make a big difference. Try to find hotel reviews on TripAdvisor, Yelp, and Google from an upcoming guest and see if they mention any unmet expectations or disappointments from stays at other properties. Another hotel’s loss can be your gain if you know in advance what a guest wants – or doesn’t.
4. Contact the guests before they arrive
For all the perks of the information age, an old-fashioned telephone call or personalized email can be the best way to connect with guests before their stay. Simply asking if the guest is in town for something special is an easy way to find out what they want during their stay, and to find simple ways to make it exceptional. Any property can have team members spend a few minutes each day reaching out and creating a connection. Guests will appreciate the extra time spent on making sure that their needs are met before they even arrive, and the hotel team can build up valuable loyalty.
5. Take advantage of technology in the hotel
Many hotel entertainment systems turn guestroom TVs into communication devices. Take advantage of this and have the TVs display a nice welcome message for when the guest checks in. Similarly, use TVs and monitors in public spaces to welcome VIPs or groups. Just a sign saying “Welcome!” and their names will be appreciated.
Hotels with Smart TVs should make it easy for guests to connect their own Netflix, Spotify, and other streaming service accounts to the in-room entertainment system. That way, they can watch their own content, and pick-up their binge-watching right where they left off. With the growth of digital concierge services, like the new Alexa devices that will be in Marriott hotels starting this summer, it will make it easier for guests to have their favorite playlists available with just a command.
Ultimately, personalizing a guest’s experience means that the guest never feels like mere revenue to a hotel, and when a guest feels valued, he or she is likely to not only come back, but to recommend the hotel to others.