In recent years hospitality software has provided hoteliers with a myriad of opportunities to evolve and expand their businesses, yet somehow many still defer upgrading to newer solutions as if the software itself is a form of luxury that hotel management provides to staff and guests for free.
Well, they’re not entirely wrong, integrated hospitality solutions are intended to automate the drudge out of your employees’ everyday tasks while simultaneously helping your guests navigate their stay with the least frustration possible.
This process of offering a service and then making the procurement stage either difficult or unpleasant for the guest is called friction. It is the underlying reason for many disappointing stays which is why eliminating it should play a central part in any revenue optimisation strategy. Sadly one of the most common sources of friction is often a hotel’s outdated website. With defunct features, outdated information and a format not suitable for mobile browsing, there’s no better way to make a potential guest give up becoming a patron to your business then being greeted by a defunct web page.
Your website is the part of your business’ presentation which you should not give up, especially in an age of fleeting social network trends. Being up to date and keeping up social media profiles of your business is precious, but it does not by any means invalidate the need for an intuitive and mobile-friendly webpage.
Even if you don’t prioritise it, your guests will certainly will and you can use this intuitive trust to lure in direct bookings, upsell guests, and even build guest loyalty. But all of this becomes redundant if your website creates friction instead of alleviating it.
Let’s take a more detailed look into how exactly friction works and what you could potentially do to avoid creating it in the future:
While you may not choose to deceive your guests outright, leaving out essential information from your OTA profiles and your webpage, such as for instance which credit card services you admit, or the fact that the advertised pool and spa are out of order while undergoing maintenance, could cost you much more in damage to your online reputation then it would earn you back in profit. Keeping your guests constantly in the loop of any issues or changes being made to their stay would put them at ease, but only if you follow up by assuring them that everything is being handled, and if the issue is a persistent one, by giving them periodical updates on your progress.
It is borderline impossible to earn back the trust and loyalty of a guest who feels they’ve been had.
Technology can be a great source of friction particularly because it carries the undertone of innovation, so when engaging with it, people bring certain expectations, such as:
- A fluid and straightforward source of information.
If potential guests need to click around just so that they may find your booking engine, you have already started on the wrong foot with them. Every marketer will tell you that the first thing your guests should see upon gaining access to your website is an action button, a bold and direct invite with a simple message “BOOK A ROOM” something that the viewer would not even register having read, but will remember once they need it.
- Automated confirmations are given for any online service.
A frequently underestimated source of friction is the instances in which the guest books a room, but needs to wait for your staff to see the message and respond before they can confirm their stay. It is increasingly unlikely that a guest would wait that long. If you haven’t sent back the confirmation within 5 minutes they will already be trying to get on the phone with someone from the hotel. If they don’t succeed in reaching them, then the booking will cut their losses and cancel on you on the spot. The immediate nature of technology has bred a generation of consumers who demand immediacy in their technological interactions, anything which diverges from that would be seen as sub-par and they would take their money elsewhere. An integrated direct booking engine is a clear cut way of avoiding the above.
- Direct Bookings
All bookings made directly from your website would be reflected in your cloud-based property management system, which would keep your staff in the loop in terms of occupancy, but would not need their involvement in order to complete the process. A direct booking engine also allows you to keep a database of former guests by allowing you access to their contact information such as their private email, which you can further use to send back a query on their stay, allowing you to build a more formal relationship, which could eventually grow into loyalty.
- Staff Culture
The inevitable aspect of guest and staff interactions has always been a great source of friction, but with so many resources at the disposal of the modern hotelier, they don’t have to be. Still, by mediating some of the more tedious aspects of hospitality to devices, it would be an error to overlook that this does not in itself equal better communication between staff and guests. With so many features at their disposal staff could possibly become more disinterested in the guests and their complaints, knowing that everything could be dealt with swiftly, making the guests feel ignored and degraded. If a guest takes half an hour to check into a hotel after a 10-hour flight but is treated kindly and with respect, they would be groggy about it until the next morning, then proceed with their stay like nothing had happened. On the opposite end, if a guest is given the cold shoulder by your personnel even if they have had nothing but a perfectly fluid check-in process, they are highly unlikely to return again.
Motivating your staff to use the additional time on their hands to improve on their communication with your guests would be what will make guests remember you fondly and choose to stay with you again.
There are potential sources of friction involved in any transaction, but in hospitality they are detrimental to the overall quality of the service provided. They are also a dangerously undervalued aspect of any business, which means that many businesses could be working against their best interest by not choosing to address the matter and find a solution.
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About Clock Software
Clock Software is a global provider of cloud-based property 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 65 countries.