By Terri Miller, Chief Executive Officer & Co-Founder, Concilio Labs
Success in the hospitality industry is largely defined by a hotel’s ability to connect with their guest(s) while attending to their unique set of needs and expectations. The opportunities your hotel has to establish a genuine connection and rapport with each guest are referred to as “guest touchpoints” — the moments in which a guest is in direct contact with your hotel staff. This may seem like a relatively simple concept but establishing these connections with prospective guests can prove difficult, at times, when these touchpoints are often fleeting compared to the total amount of time individuals spend traveling.
Our industry is in a period of frequent change and evolution. We are witnessing the emergence of technology and platforms that are likely to truly transform the guest experience. As the number of touchpoints change or increases, old paradigms and processes have been called into question. Hotels that see the most success are those that stay ahead of trends and update their operating model not just according to industry standards, but as industry leaders.
Generally, there are four primary touchpoints companies are already familiar with throughout the guest journey:
1. Inspiration 2. Pre-trip 3. In-destination 4. Post stay
Good Service is No Longer ‘Good Enough’ While the hospitality industry used to focus on a relatively simple goal of providing a good night’s sleep, a suitable ‘home away from home’, the modern guest is now seeking something more. Instead of a service, hotels are expected to provide an ‘experience’. In order to do this, the communication(s) strategy for each touchpoint must be tailored, data-driven, relevant, and anticipatory in nature. In our business, experience is king and personalization shares that throne.
Mobile Apps Deliver More Ways to Engage Hotels should focus on establishing a mobile optimized website and custom app that promotes the unique experiences it can provide. Your hotel can utilize this opportunity to push messages with selected dates and destinations, in a way that is engaging and relevant to the specific guest. These personalized interactions should continue while the guest is enjoying their stay, enriching their experience with special offers or tailored upgrades, activity recommendations and more. Following their stay, hotels have the opportunity to utilize those technology touchpoints (through the website, app, emails, post-stay surveys, etc.) to follow-up with targeted marketing campaigns that offer relevant content and encourage on-going guest loyalty.
Be Social We also have to consider the importance of social media. According to Forrester, 60% of the guests in a hotel are social travelers and they love to stay connected online while they travel. It’s no surprise that social media platforms should be leveraged as a critical touchpoint and opportunity to connect with and retarget your guests. It also allows hotels to highlight guest experiences during the “in-destination,” by sharing their content or positive reviews and further solidifying a connection between their experience and your hotel.
Tie it All Together Of course, the concept of personalization goes beyond communication specifics to include the preferred channel for communication with each guest, as well. This means hotels need to utilize their data (using an intuitive guest management tool, for example) to understand which devices their guests use most, and what channel they use most to interact with your hotel.
For a hotel to rise above guest expectations and firmly establish guest loyalty, they must continuously prioritize the guest experience, offering value to the traveler at every appropriate moment. By remaining privy to the evolution of guest touchpoints, hotels are able to recognize new opportunities to expand their customer-base at every turn.