Guest engagement in the hospitality industry refers to interactions between the hotel and its guests. As broad as this term is, covering a wide range of experiences from a booking confirmation email to a bottle of wine in the fridge upon arrival, it is clearly centred around building and nurturing the connection between the guests and the hotel. Done successfully, it strengthens this relationship and puts your hotel on a fast track to customer loyalty and retention.
In addition, satisfied guests are more likely to become advocates for your brand. They may leave reviews or share their great experience with friends and family. Of course, an engaged guest is also more likely to become a repeat visitor, and this loyalty is a gem in the hospitality industry. A study by analytics and advisory company Gallup found that, on average, guests that felt engaged with a hotel and its staff spent $185 more than guests that felt disengaged from the establishment. However, the study also revealed that only 22% of guests felt engaged with their most frequented hotel.
The low percentage of engaged hotel guests suggests much room for improvement and plenty of scope for boosting revenue in the hospitality sector. By improving your guest engagement strategies, you can increase customer satisfaction, drive repeat bookings, and advance your hotel’s reputation.
This article explores the best ideas to take your guest engagement tactics and strategies to the next level.
Pre-Arrival Engagement Ideas
The opportunity to engage arrives well before the guests enter your hotel. Take advantage of this time to build anticipation.
Send a welcome message
Automating a welcome message is a simple process but one that can be highly effective. It is a chance to introduce your hotel and make your new arrivals feel appreciated. It is a chance to pass on information that could be useful to your guests to make their arrival smoother, such as details of online check-in processes or directions to find your location. In addition, you can take this opportunity to showcase your facilities, putting forward extra services the guest may be interested in, such as spa treatments or dining opportunities. Special offers or discount vouchers can encourage guests to book enhancements to their stay.
Interact via social media channels
By being present and responsive on social media, you are offering guests the chance to have their questions answered, and again, there, you can promote your latest special deals. Being accessible on any platform to suit your guest’s needs makes it easy to engage on their terms in the environment where they feel most comfortable.
Introduce a virtual concierge service
As a guest engagement tool, an AI-powered digital assistant brings many benefits. It allows guests to find and book extra services and to reach out with any special requests. A virtual concierge makes it more convenient for guests to book a wake-up call, change the dining reservation time, or ask questions without speaking to staff at the reception desk. Of course, by encouraging guests to use your virtual concierge system, you are freeing up a great deal of staff time too. By bringing this service to guests’ attention before their visit, they have time to familiarise themselves with how it works, what it can offer, and make advance reservations.
Learn about your guests with a pre-arrival survey
By requesting to fill in a pre-arrival survey, you can gather information that can be invaluable for providing a quality, personalised service. When you know in advance that a particular guest needs an accessible room, they prefer to be on a high floor, or that they require a vegan breakfast, you can be ready and waiting to provide the perfect seamless service.
Use customer data to offer personalised room upgrade options
By gathering data before the guests arrive, you can then tailor tempting upgrade options to suit their needs perfectly. If you know they love a high floor, how about upgrading to the penthouse suite? If they have specifically requested a room with a view, you could offer them an upgrade to a room with a superior view.
Arrival Engagement Ideas
When your guests arrive, it is time to make an excellent first impression.
Deliver a personalised welcome message
Some hoteliers would argue that it used to be easier to give your guests a warm welcome. This first contact chance to make a positive impact can often be missed as guests check in remotely, either online or via automated booths. On the flip side, this allows you to offer a welcoming message in other creative ways. You can deliver your message via email, text message, or social media, using the data you gathered pre-arrival to determine the guest’s preferred contact method. In addition, a welcome screen on the in-room TV is always a nice touch.
Offer welcome drinks or snacks
When guests enter your establishment, you will undoubtedly make an impact if you have a welcome drink to offer them. A nice glass of sparkling wine, freshly squeezed orange juice, or even a simple serving of spring water can be very welcome after a long journey. Treats such as luxury chocolates or home-baked cookies are small gifts, but these little indulgent extras can make a big difference and leave guests feeling as if they are getting a true VIP experience.
Offer personalised hotel tours
By offering a hotel tour, you are getting the chance to engage with your guests, make a connection, and show off all the features and facilities of your hotel. A tour can help guests feel familiar with the layout of the building and the locations of key facilities, and it will be even more appealing if you can add interest with a bit of history or fun facts about the hotel. Remember to present the guests with upselling potentials such as the spa, bar, restaurant, or room upgrade options.
Add engagement into the digital check-in procedure
While you want your digital check-in process to be simple and straightforward, adding useful information and personalised recommendations is possible. Enabling guests to make restaurant reservations or book spa treatments during check-in can encourage guests to make bookings they may otherwise have omitted.
In-Room Engagement Ideas
Engagement in hospitality does not have to be in person. Forward-thinking hoteliers use guest data to provide personalised service.
Provide personalised room service
You can make a guest’s stay memorable by thoughtfully utilising guest data from a pre-stay survey to add personalised touches to the room. Provide suitable pillows for a guest with a feather allergy, non-dairy coffee creamer for a guest with dairy allergies, or a hand-written card for a birthday or anniversary celebration.
Offer room customisation options
Every guest has unique tastes, and it may seem impossible to design your rooms to appeal to everyone. However, you can offer smaller yet impactful room décor personalisation options, such as choosing the bedding to wall art, should they wish to.
Make use of the latest technologies
In-room entertainment is a big deal in hotels. These days guests are used to their homes filled with options, and so a business traveller with several hours to kill before a meeting will want more than a handful of TV channels to choose from. By offering technology-enabled entertainment such as streaming services or virtual reality experiences, your guests will leave knowing that all their entertainment needs are met at your establishment.
Bring virtual concierge services to every room
Weary travellers love convenience, so by offering the ability to control room facilities via a digital concierge, guests can enjoy their experience from the comfort of their rooms. Everything is easier with an intuitive virtual concierge service, from managing the temperature and closing the curtains to ordering late-night snacks from room service.
Offer in-room amenities customisation
A luxury hotel stay is all about the details; when your guests can select those details, you add an extra level of engagement. With options to choose from a range of toiletry brands or a pillow menu, you can rest assured that those special touches will be the perfect fit for every guest.
Dining Engagement Ideas
An excellent dining experience can whet your guests’ appetite to return to your hotel.
Offer personalised dining recommendations
Using data gathered pre-arrival, you can push tailored recommendations and deals for dining. You can suggest kids-eat-free deals for families, delicious plant-based dishes for vegetarians, or offers for solo diners aimed at business guests. It could be the key to keeping your guests on the property rather than finding a dining option elsewhere.
Themed dining events add interest
Even the best restaurants can get tiresome when staying in a hotel for several nights. Offering themed dinner events can add extra appeal and bring return diners who would otherwise have eaten elsewhere. From a night showcasing local cuisine to an extravagant murder mystery dining experience, there are so many ways to engage with a themed dinner.
Offer cooking classes and tastings
Put your catering staff in the spotlight with cookery classes or food and drink tastings. Guests can get to know the chef, learn new skills, and sample some delights in the restaurant or at the bar.
Offer enhanced room service options
With an extensive room service menu, guests can dine in their room without feeling they are missing out or compromising. From fine-dining multi-course menus to takeaway-style pizza, it is essential to cater to all tastes. Allow the option to customise menu items or make requests just as they would if they were dining in your restaurant. Using your pre-gathered data, you can suggest dishes that match their dietary requirements.
Create customised menus for diners
Handing guests a menu customised specifically for their particular dietary needs is impressive. Whether they are gluten-free, dairy-free, vegan, vegetarian, or have allergies, they will definitely appreciate being given a menu where all the choices are available to them rather than having to hunt out the dishes they can eat from within the plethora of other options.
Post-Stay Engagement Ideas
Engagement should not end when the guest leaves the hotel.
Collect data with a post-stay survey
Asking for feedback at the departure from your hotel is invaluable. From this, you can pinpoint your weaknesses and those areas where you excel. What aspects of your hotel did the guests like the most? Was there anything lacking? This information can help you set goals for the future, and it also gives you the opportunity to rectify specific customer issues that you may otherwise have been unaware of.
Reach out for reviews
Sending a follow-up message to guests thanking them for choosing your hotel for their stay also brings the opportunity to politely ask if they would leave a review. According to reviewtrackers, 63.6% of consumers check reviews on Google before visiting a business, so if you can encourage guests to leave a review by making it easy for them with a direct link, it could certainly enhance your profile.
Implement a loyalty programme
By rewarding guests for repeat stays, they become invested in achieving the reward goals and are more likely to become regular visitors to your establishment. In addition, regular guests feel valued when they are rewarded for their loyalty.
Use customer data to personalise future offers
With booking history and preferences data, you have the tools to present bespoke promotions to each guest, tailored to their own needs. Mailing list members can become an annoyance when they are inundated with advertising, particularly when the content is irrelevant to them. By personalising the correspondence, you can target advertising where it will be most welcomed and effective.
Encourage social media engagement
By encouraging guests to follow your social media accounts, you are maintaining that connection, and keeping your business fresh in the minds of guests, months or even years after their visit. You never know when they may need accommodation in your city again, and your hotel will not be forgotten if you consistently post relevant, engaging content on your social media feeds.
Challenges in hotel guest engagement
Hotel guest engagement has its challenges. With so many facets, keeping track of all the engagement avenues you are following can be difficult. Gathering data can be problematic, and then determining how to put that data to best use can also be an issue. For a single guest, you may have a pre-stay survey filled out via email, information gathered at check-in, dietary preferences conveyed to the restaurant, a complaint handled by housekeeping, and a positive comment posted on Facebook. All this information is valuable, but it is all in different formats on different platforms. The key is to centralise your data, and the best way to do this is to leverage customer relationship management (CRM) tools.
Great guest engagement involves the human factor combined with technology. It is vital that your hotel staff is on board with all the technologies and digital tools used and that training is of a high level and continuous. It is also important to ensure that everything is addressed. An Instagram account filled with stylish images of your hotel can quickly turn from an asset to a liability if messages and comments on the account are not responded to quickly.
Measuring guest engagement
There are several ways in which hotels can measure and quantify guest engagement. Revenue and booking metrics can show, over time, growth in bookings, the efficacy of loyalty programs, and the percentage of repeat visitors. Review and rating sites bring their own metrics for your perusal, and your social media platform engagement can be monitored and analysed. Follows, likes, and mentions all give an indication as to how engaged people are with your brand. Your post-stay surveys allow you to gather specific data to obtain guest satisfaction scores, and by asking guests how likely they are to recommend your hotel, the Net Promotor Score (NPS) can be calculated.
With so many varied methods of measuring guest engagement, it is wise to look to technology for a solution that can take your data from all sources, select relevant KPIs, analyse the data, and issue useful reports on which to base your future goals.
Start boosting your guest engagement today
The hotel industry is a competitive one. These days it is all about using the latest technologies to offer an experience that is personalised for each guest. Guest engagement both enhances the guest’s stay and allows for the accumulation of invaluable data. As we have seen, there are many ways to engage throughout the guest journey, bringing a memorable experience and making your hotel stand out from the competition. All in all, you’ll be driving loyalty, encouraging repeat visits, and increasing per capita spending.
At HiJiffy, we understand the importance of guest engagement. Book a personalised demo with our team to learn more about how we can help your hotel reimagine guest communications, boost guest engagement initiatives and manage guest data simply and efficiently.
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