Thursday, 30 September 2021

Three Stages of The Luxury Hotel Guest Experience


In the hospitality business, the most important thing to keep in mind is the guest experience, i.e., how your guests feel before, during and after their stay at your hotel.  

With ever-advancing technology, empowered buyers and increasing competition, it is difficult to be top of the list when it comes to providing services that your customers truly enjoy. 

You feel that you’re there, that you’ve achieved the goals and suddenly you realise that there was just this one thing that could have improved your customer experience even more. And it is a repeating cycle. 

Refer to our podcast ‘Marketing and branding for luxury hotels with Lisa Leahy’ where she talks about how Hayfield Manor always strives to be a little bit better and little bit more efficient with every customer to provide the perfect customer experience.  

The most important thing to understand when laying out a plan for our guest’s experience is the fact that this experience is not only during their stay at your hotel. 

In fact, it begins the moment the customer thinks of planning a journey in the city you’re located. 

Every guest in a hotel goes through a customer journey, which in most cases is divided in three parts- Pre-Arrival, On-Arrival/ Post- Arrival and finally Post Departure.  
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Pre-ARRIVAL 

Customers should feel valued when they are researching about their stay at your hotel. 

Your website should be visually appealing, reflecting the true essence of your hotel. 

It should be easy to navigate so the customers don’t have to spend a lot of time trying to figure out what they are looking for. 

Answers to customer questions should be readily available on your website or through your social channels.  

When you send a confirmation of the order to your customer, try including a section to request any special assistance during the stay, like any food allergies in case the customer has added meals to their stay, any special rooms that the customer might be looking for. 

Asking the customers if they are celebrating a special occasion on during their stay and offering a special something for that can go a long way in building customer loyalty for your hotel.   

As much as technology has made our lives easier, it has also opened doors to expectations for customer experiences. 

As a hotelier, you need to consider adding unique technological touches to your customer experience that intrigues your guest to try something new. 

For example- introduce chat bots on your website to answer any FAQ’s that your customers might have.  


ON-ARRIVAL 

Similarly, when the customer arrives at your hotel, they should receive a warm welcome that makes them look forward to their stay at your property. 

A simple smile goes a long way too. They will have an expectation of their stay – your job is to make sure it is exceeded. 

Personalizing your customers experience while they stay with you will not only make the customer feel welcomed but also put your brand out there. 

What this means is the next time that customer is planning a trip to your city, they will remember that you provided them with towels that had their initials printed on them or that you created a special itinerary dependent on the length of their stay in your city or that you left handwritten note in their room welcoming them aboard.  

Use technology to answer any questions that the customers might have during their stay at your hotel, a special scannable code in the room or in the lift, that redirects the customer to a page describing attractions in your area. 

You can also collaborate with local service/ activity providers to link them with the customers looking for true local guided experience.  

Another important point to consider is gathering as much information as you can about your customer during their stay. 

Training your staff to learn about the customers while serving them is the most effective way to find this information about your customer. 

You can further use this information to tailor the experiences that other similar customers have at your hotel and send post departure retargeting emails to customer with specials offers around their likings.  

Glenlo Abbey Hotel has a section on their website that promotes ‘user generated content’. 

Posts from customers who have visited the hotel and have mentioned the hotel in any of their pictures are shared on the website. 

While the simple idea is a brilliant promotional strategy for the hotel, it also adds a personal and human touch for the potential customers visiting the hotel’s website. 

Today’s customer is active on social media more than ever before, especially the ones between 18-30 years of age. 

There’s a growing popularity for influencers on social media with massive following on their accounts and different trends like hashtags, reels, TikTok Videos, etc., keep growing in popularity. 

Consider promoting user generated content on your social media pages where a customer has posted at a prominent location of your hotel. 

You can also consider adding a special photo booth section in the hotel with props for guests to click pictures with. 

These props can be customised with hashtags reflecting the speciality of the location your hotel is located in.  
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ON-DEPARTURE 

It is easy to omit things when a customer is departing from your hotel because there are also guests arriving and often the staff gets too involved in serving the customers just arriving and neglect the ones checking out.  

While the customer is checking out is one of the best opportunities to involve the customer in a conversation around your brand to understand what they liked and to get suggestions to improve customer experience in your hotel. 

Look at possibilities of offering a going away complimentary drink to the customer or a special thank you card from the staff.  

Make them feel as valued on departure as on arrival. 

If you have any special events planned in the coming months, inform the customer about these plans. 

This is the time when they will be leaving an online review or telling their friends and family about your hotel. 

If these departees are happy you will grow your business. They will be loyal future guests and they will advocate for you too. 


Conclusion 

When planning a customer relations strategy, always consider yourself in the shoes of your customer and think about the things that you would adore about living in a hotel. 

There’s an endless list of possible routes a luxury hotel can take when it comes to providing the perfect experience to the customer. 

Whether you are The Lowell hotel offering a Private Sunrise at the Empire State building or you are offering a complimentary courtesy car to drive you around town like the Roma Hassler, you are stepping a foot forward in putting a significant impression on your customer experience.   

The biggest pro and con of the industry is that ‘every customer is different’. 

In this case you can not only tailor several different experience for each customer, but you also must adapt to the fast-changing market to keep up with growing competition.