Use the digital addiction of hotel guests to your advantage

In part one of this series we talked about the digital experience of hotel guests on the property's website and online booking engine. In this second part, we are going to pay attention to a much wider range of opportunities - digital guest engagement and services that start after booking and end… after leaving. Or maybe never?

It is wrongly accepted that taking an online booking and sending an instant confirmation is a standard high enough for a hospitality business. In fact, between the first website visit and the guest’s return home there are tons of engagement opportunities that remain unused by hoteliers. And by missed opportunities I mean lost revenue, lower guest satisfaction, less customer engagement, worse online reputation and missed loyalty benefits. Travellers no longer shop for just items or amenities, these days they are eager to spend for experiences.

So, how's the digital guest experience in your hotel?

In a "mobile-first" world where "gadget geek", "tech-savvy" and "digitally addicted" have become regular expressions applicable to almost everyone aged between 5 and 65, how far have you gone with providing digital and mobile hotel services? If the answer is "not much", here are some great points to start the modernization.

Between "Thank you for your booking" and "Welcome to our hotel".

Except with last-minute bookings, there is usually some time gap between the making of the reservation and the actual arrival of the guest(s) at the property. Too often this time remains unused by hoteliers who miss the opportunity to engage and impress the customer with more attractive offers, useful information, digital services like online check-in or guarantee payment reminders. Automated emails scheduled to regularly inform and engage guests, or why not involve them in a conversation, can go a long way. With a guest-mailing hotel app the time between reservation and arrival can stop being a blind spot in the hotel-guest communication and instead turn into a serious source of up-sales and increased customer satisfaction.

illustration of automated guest emails sent by hotel prior arrival

Online or kiosk self check-in or skipping the routine procedures.

illustration of self-service hotel check-in at a kiosk

Even better - replacing them with valuable hotel-guest interactions that enhance customer experience and staff productivity alike. Many hotels still fail to offer their clients a proper two-way communication channel to give them more control over their stay and the feeling of being looked after. Guests hate the check-in line, you hate the procedure. It is the wrong moment to establish a true relationship with customers. This should have happened long before their arrival. Instead, give guests some choice, let them check in from their mobile phone or at the kiosk, let them choose and assign their room, pay any due deposits and go the their room. And you have just saved a lot of time to attend to your not-so-savvy guests or focus on other services.

In-stay digital hotel services

Grab a smartphone, tap the screen, get things done, have fun - this is the lifestyle to which most people are accustomed, some even addicted. Then, why not let hotel guests order food in their room or book a table for dinner in the hotel restaurant in the same familiar way? In fact, it should not even be necessary to be in the property to do so. With a web-based hotel app , all services can be made available on the customer's mobile device regardless of time and location. Using a regular Wi-fi connection, for example, guests can access those services, send requests, get response or confirmation and generally enjoy the same level of digital experience they are used to getting from every service provider they deal with. Perhaps it is high time to put an end to the belief that hotels are some sort of old-fashioned places with just beds and showers but digital laggards.

Virtual concierge

The virtual concierge is like a digital assistant for customers. Before they arrive at the property or during their stay, guests can access this digital service to see what the hotel offers, enjoy 360° video tours, find places to visit or events to attend nearby, learn about upgrade opportunities or extra packages to book. Unlike the website home page, this is the place for more targeted upsell promotions levelled with rich useful information that will be helpful for travellers and can improve the quality of their stay significantly. The best thing here is that the virtual concierge can be a section of the website connected to the hotel PMS software through the hotel app. This would allow for even more service personalisation and the creation of an unique digital gateway for two-way communication between the hotel and its guests.

Convenient self-checkout

Last day of vacation / business trip. Luggage to pack, planes to catch… That awkward moment when people get nervous and that many would like to skip. I hate checkouts. Usually, I go to the reception desk the night before and try to arrange everything in advance in my aim to reduce the stress of departure day. But what if I could take my phone, check my bill, pay it online, even draw my invoice and send it directly to the accountant's email. From my smartphone, no matter how late in the evening, from my room or from my favourite restaurant while enjoying a last dinner with friends or colleagues. Guaranteed, I would appreciate this digital experience and stay in the mood for leaving a positive review or recommend the property to others. And I'm sure I am just one of many hotel customers who can't wait for such a non-hectic checkout routine to be offered by all accommodation providers.

illustration of self-checkout at a hotel and happy customer

The above examples are an introduction to the digital guest services a hotel can implement to enhance the customer experience in a modern way. As for the hotel, its gain would be feedback collection, post-stay personal offers, repeat-visit incentives and whatever the marketing team can think of and execute as a campaign. The deeper meaning of all this is that hotels can earn empathy and build a connection with guests, which allows them to stay in touch and keep the conversation going. In the long term, this level of engagement will turn into more direct business and more loyal customers - a guaranteed boost for a business's bottom line.

About Clock Software

Clock Software is a global provider of cloud-based hotel management systems (PMS), integrated online distribution, online & kiosk hotel self check-in solutions and mobile & in-room guest engagement systems with customers in more than 60 countries.