Independent hotels should use technology to improve the guest experience
We do our best at Amistad Partners to bring you the latest news on technology and its disruptive and business-changing impact on the hotel industry. Hotels know that it has become a critical imperative to understand how to use technology to enhance the guest experience, but there is a big gap between understanding and implementing.
In the 2018 Guest Experience Assessment Report by StayNTouch, Travel Tripper, and TrustYou, 300 hoteliers in the U.S. and Canadian were asked various questions about their guest experience, including online and mobile check-in options, up-sell opportunities and guest communication. In short, many hotels admitted there was a need to improve their use of the technology.
Surprisingly, 41% of respondents said they do not offer guests a choice in check-in options (such as mobile, kiosk, online or the front desk), with 26% percent saying that they do offer choices and a further 33% saying they could be better in offering more options. This is a missed opportunity for hotels as guests have repeatedly said they would like to expedite check-in, and many would prefer to stay at hotels that allow check-in through smartphones.
As of 31 December 2017, the US had a 95.6% penetration rate for internet access and 73.4% of Americans subscribed to Facebook. Given these figures, we find it disappointing that one in three survey respondents don’t think it is easy or very easy for guests to book and contact their hotel through their website. 68% of hoteliers were honest in admitting that they recognise the need to establish or improve their use or adoption of mobile technology. We know that guests use mobile devices to access booking engines to search for and book accommodation and to read reviews. And with Google using mobile-first indexing, it is more important now than ever that the user experience for guests is seamless. How easy your website is to use has a direct impact on how your website ranks on mobile searches. Potential guests won’t want to access a website from their phone that isn’t mobile-friendly, meaning responsive and clear. Brave hotels will go one step further to use technology to enable an interactive and dynamic relationship between them and their guests.
Another key area of improvement is the use of guest data. Nearly half of all hotels in the survey (48%) said that they are either missing out on untapped potential or that they find collecting and using data a challenge. The ability to mine data to extract meaningful insights that drive business growth is something that all businesses in today’s operating environment contend with. We’ve covered in previous posts that guests are happy to provide personal data to hotels if that means a more bespoke service for hotels and tailored offerings. “With cloud-based software, data is available anytime, anywhere so that staff and management can maximize operational and guest information to drive more personalized service and marketing,” the report mentions.
One underutilised tool to collect meaningful data is the humble guest survey. Guests are happy to give their feedback on their experiences and preferences if hotels only asked. Surveys can be conducted at any point of a guest’s stay but they must be quick to take. And it doesn’t hurt to offer an incentive, such as the opportunity to win a free night’s stay.
Of course, the data isn’t much use if hotels can’t encourage employees to use the data to proactively engage with guests. Only 25% of respondents say that their hotel has all the information and tools to support this. The report suggests, “In order to generate continued guest loyalty and positive feedback, all employees should have access to resources which effectively train, mobilise and support your staff to provide the best service possible.”
Variety is the key to happy guests, empowered staff and a successful, growing independent hotel. To find out more about how you can ensure that your hotel is doing its utmost to use technology to improve the guest experience, call one of our sales team.