There are 86,400 seconds in a day, and as many moments in every 24-hour stay a customer has at your hotel to form positive or negative perceptions. Yet, despite this, businesses typically ask customers for feedback only at the end of their experience, by which time all they can do for that customer is to use the feedback to make the experience better for the next guest – whose preferences may be completely different. Although asking customers for feedback in every moment is clearly overkill, waiting until they’ve left is too late. The solution, then, is a thoughtful strategy to request during-stay feedback at key moments, and to be prepared to take action for that individual guest.

To get the best possible feedback, outline the most important moments of the customer journey. Arrival is probably one of them, but there may be other moments that are integral to the experience. Checking in with them at these times can be a good measure of how well you are delivering on the most important aspects of the experience when expectations are highest. Feedback questions can be prompted through:

  • Wi-Fi logins
  • QR codes
  • NFC technology (such as tapping phones on to connected devices)
  • Printed URLs
  • Installed screens displaying questions

Below are six strategic opportunities to ask for feedback from a hotel guest:

1. As they arrive on-site

Many experts argue that you should ask for feedback very close to the beginning of the journey. When something has gone wrong very early in the experience, such as during the booking or purchase phase, there is a psychological tendency to view the subsequent interactions in a negative light. Therefore, if negative experiences can be resolved at the start, it may be easier to ‘convert’ these guests from detractors to passives or promoters.

According to a Roomzzz study, 65% of guests are logged into hotel Wi-Fi within seven minutes of arriving. The login is a simple and unobtrusive way to prompt a feedback question, when the guest is already looking at their device.

2. After they check in to their room

Once the guest has opened the door to their room and inspected the layout and amenities, it’s likely their first impression has been formed but it’s early enough in the experience to learn about their expectations for the stay. Additionally, if there is any issue with the room, it’s best to find out before their impression of the room meshes with service impressions and other aspects of the stay.

3. During breakfast

Breakfast is one of the most important amenities offered by a hotel. It’s also usually a quiet period for guests when they aren’t overly occupied with business or leisure activities. The F&B Manager could send a feedback request once the guest has finished eating, or the request could be more passive, in the form of a URL or scannable code on the menu or table.

4. When they leave the restaurant

Food is taking an increasingly important position as a brand differentiator for hotels. In 2017, overall consumer spending through hotel F&B increased 4.9 percent to a total of $48.7 billion. It’s fair to say that most people don’t want to be disturbed during their meal with requests for feedback, but a request sent after they’ve left, and before subsequent activities have begun, can be a good time to find out what they thought of the meal and gain insight into their personal preferences.

5. At the hotel bar

Guests enjoying the hotel bar may be celebrating a birthday with a group of friends, or they may be on their own, travelling for business. In the case of the latter, the hotel bar becomes an opportunity for social engagement – one that is ideally spotted by the bartender. Friendly service can go a long way in these instances, and since the guest is likely to have time, it may make sense to ask guests for feedback through a tablet installed near the bar where single people usually sit.

6. The morning they check out

A request for feedback before checkout will hopefully validate that the guest has had a positive experience made up of a number of service interactions and opportunities for feedback throughout the stay. It’s also an opportunity for the guest to leave any final comments or suggestions in a non-confrontational way. Since many guests checkout on their own, or don’t want to spend an excessive amount of time in the lobby once they have left their room, a feedback prompt while they are in the final stages of packing is optimal.

With guest feedback, you create more opportunities to improve the experience and raise guest satisfaction scores. Guests tend to disproportionately recall the high and low points of their customer journeys and not all the individual aspects of it meaning that post-stay surveys can be murky water.  Most significantly, when feedback is asked during-stay, guests feel empowered and engaged and are less likely to assign blame when things go wrong.

Ultimately, the choice about when to ask for feedback should be informed by each hotel, knowledge of guests’ preferences and the type of service offered by the individual hotel. Consider that each question asked can be expensive in terms of your guests’ goodwill (you are essentially asking them for a favor) so you need to be highly selective about how many questions you ask while striving to find the most unobtrusive means possible.