This year has been quite punishing to hospitality providers when it comes to guest loyalty. With many hoteliers being forced to close their doors or limit their services, it has been a challenge to connect with once loyal guests and reestablish your place in their travel itinerary.
But at its core hospitality has not changed. It is still the practice of accommodating needs and wants and building great guest experiences. Your once loyal guests will still be in need of your services, but the character of that need might be due for an upgrade.
These are seven key ways in which you can build guest loyalty and encourage return visits during 2020:
- Be Adaptive
- One of the core values of hospitality is the hotelier’s willingness to accommodate guest demands. After all, your guests’ idea of what their stay should entail can vary greatly. But with the recent lockdown restrictions, many have felt a certain social guilt when it comes to travel and staying at hotels.
- Adapting to this knowledge would mean giving your guests several reassurances:
- Safety First
- Your more conscious guests will want to make certain that a stay at your hotel does not greatly increase the risk to their health and the health of their loved ones. By adopting a proactive approach to on-premise hygiene you can give your potential guest the assurance they need.
- Lenient Cancelation Policies
- Last minute cancelations typically carry a fee meant to partially compensate the establishment for the business it has lost, but with a viral pandemic still going on, this practice might dissuade guests from booking with you.
- After all, guests have a social duty of staying home if they were to become exposed to COVID-19, and that can put a tamper on any traveling plans they might have. If you were to temporarily wave the practice of charging guests for last minute cancelations you would effectively encourage more bookings, and minimize the risk of someone traveling to your establishment when not in the peek of health.
- Guaranteed Quality
- Many guest prospects are currently basing their booking practices based on the quality of the experience they might get, and less on how much it might cost. With another travel ban always being up for debate guests are less eager to make numerous travel plans, so if they choose to book a room with you, you’re more than likely to be one of the few establishments they will visit this year. By giving guests the best possible hotel experience in a time when such opportunities are few and far between, you are laying the groundwork for many more visits to come.
- Remain Relatable
- Business neutrality during COVID-19 not always proven to be the best possible route to take. By avoiding the topic of safety and the changing needs of guests, you are actively putting your establishment at risk of alienating possible guest prospects.
- Social listening is key to retaining guest loyalty during this pandemic. If you ever wonder what route you should take in order to increase revenue during 2020 you just need to turn to your guests and prospects, they will gladly tell you.
- Guest preferences have also been changing. Most of your potential guests are looking for an opportunity to recover from the inevitable burnout caused by the sensory overload of working from home, and being socially disconnected from the opportunity to meet new people and have new experiences.
- There are also those who simply cannot afford to take the time off, but still need a change in scenery in order to avoid the aforementioned burnout. Accommodating guests’s need for using your hotel as a work space can play an invaluable role in building corporate guest loyalty during 2020.
- Embrace Innovation
- The first quarter of 2020 was disastrous in terms of bookings, so you might have been forced to let some of your staff go, possibly avoiding the hiring of seasonal help for the rest of the year. Still, with business as usual slowly picking up you might find yourself in need of help you cannot afford to hire. Self-service hospitality technology is a blessing in such a time. Many guests have already built up the habit of doing certain tasks for themselves, so much so that they prefer the independence self-service kiosks provide them when it comes to checking into an establishment.
- Mobile applications are also an easy way to appease guest demands without having to hire additional help. A self-service app allows guests to register for their stay and to upgrade to a better suite, as well as booking additional services, such as dinners, and spa packages. Guests are used to browse-shopping which is how a self-service app can help you upsell additional services without having to resort to an actual sales pitch by a staff member.
- Automation has come a long way, with chatbots covering for many of the queries made by guests during your hotel’s off hours. Having a chatbot answer basic questions potential guests can have about your establishment can effectively improve your chances of them booking you. The chatbot establishes the base of the communication you are going to have with this guest prospect , and keeps them engaged while also providing them with some of the information they need. Once you have someone on shift they can pick up from there, and further see how you could seal the deal.
- Simplify Needlessly Complicated Hospitality Practices
- Having to go through the song and dance of booking a room at a hotel, is hardly the most loved part of the experience. Many guest prospects prefer booking through an online travel agency for this exact reason, as it minimizes the need to seek out a means of contacting the establishment and booking in this manner.
- Having your own booking engine could help guests by mainlining the booking experience. They can directly book a room, then use your hotel’s self-service app to fill in the check-in form, then upon arrival they can pick up their room key card from your hotel’s self-check-in kiosk.
- Not having to needlessly engage your staff’s attention with check-in protocols can save you from the need to have a round clock check-in personel, while also guaranteeing guests a certain amount of social distancing.
- Another great approach to guest service is to have all purchases be billed directly to the guest’s room, and have them track their spending through your hotel self-service app. This will cut down on cash transactions drastically, and allow guests to spend more freely.
- Keep Up Staff Morale
- Your personnel is the breathing embodiment of your establishment. When your business suffers, they suffer. Suffice it to say, they have had a rough 2020. our guests will likely notice if your staff is tense and that will put a mar on their experience, at the same time your staff will be worried if enough is being done for your establishment's operations to run as usual.
- It is in times of crisis that you can step up and build a great team that can help lead your hotel out of this crisis. Bring your staff on board when considering safety measures, and new hospitality practices you might employ. Ask them what they need to keep your business running up to speed, and what they believe is the best course of action for improving guest service.
- Your staff are your most direct link to guest demand and by consulting them you are ensuring that you are building a hospitality business model which can generate more lucrative guest engagement.
- Similarly, by being involved in the decision making side of the business your staff will feel more invested in the success of your establishment. Few employers can safely guarantee their staff a long-term position, which is why actively working together to keep your establishment afloat is the best way to keep everyone on board and actively engaged with guest retention.
- Present Guests with Opportunities for Entertainment
- Guest prospects are not simply looking for a place to go, but rather for something exciting to do. Before COVID-19 hit, much of that could be outsourced to festivals, tourism driven interest, and seasonal vacations.
- In short all you had to do to run a profitable establishment was to have a good location and moderately adequate service. But 2020 has resulted in the cancelation of most large scale social events, including this year’s Tokyo Olympics, any prognosis you might have had as to the influx of possible guests has been rendered null and void. How then do you attract guests?
- The best way to do this would be partner up with local businesses and offer a joint service. The local golf course can offer their premises as part of a packaged deal, for anyone who books with your establishment; or maybe some of the local businesses which organize outdoor activities,, can become your new business partners, by providing guests with last minute chances to join a hike or book a kayaking session.
- Guest prospects are much more likely to see the appeal in booking with you if you come as a packaged deal. By associating their stay at your hotel with the experience they’ve had with the other vendor you can increase your chances of them revisiting your hotel, next time they’re in the mood for adventure.
- Express Gratitude
- Guests often are made to feel like just another nameless visitor when staying at a hotel. This used to be true due to the sheer number of people booking with your hotel on the daily. But it doesn’t take much to make them feel like they are valued by your business.
- Nowadays you can easily track guests’ names and their preferences with the help of your property management system (PMS). It wouldn’t take your staff much effort to greet and send off guests by their names, which instantly makes them feel noticed and appreciated.
- You can also keep involved when it comes to your hotel’s reviews. Thank guests for their criticism, but also thank those who’ve had a great stay and have taken the time of day to talk about it in a review. With guests tagging your business on social media, you can also use the opportunity to express your gratitude and remind them that they are always welcome back.
- Covid-19 has changed the way guests approach hospitality, but it has not devalued it. It is more important now than ever to provide potential guests with the opportunity to have a great experience in a safe environment, as a way to bring joy and alleviate stress during these unprecedented times.
You may also find interesting:Feature updates July
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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.