Every single guest interaction matters. Now more than ever. Travel rules are slowly being relaxed across the globe, and as a hotel, your focus right now must be on your guests. But consumer behavior has changed and understanding the new customer journey is critical. It’s time to ramp up your guest experience, encourage more guest feedback and ensure your hotel is in the strongest position possible for the post-COVID era.
At Loopon by Local Measure, we have identified four stages in the guest journey - pre-stay, in-stay, post-stay and next-stay. But considering hotels are only just reopening, let’s bring next-stay forward as your first point of consideration.
Your audience is feeling: unsure and nervous (but keen to travel again)
Your priority: over-communicate what’s on offer and be clear about safety measures and flexible terms
Travellers are searching for inspiration and you’re getting ready to open your doors - get ready to shout your reopening from the rooftop. But take a moment to be empathetic and understanding first. Consumer priorities will have changed and safety has become a primary factor.
Don’t be afraid to over-communicate - the more information, the better. As a bare minimum, make sure you have the following in place:
- Website banner on your homepage with a link to your COVID-19 information and initiatives
- Flexible booking and cancellation terms
- Active social media accounts to share your stories
- Clear marketing strategy and communication tools to stay in touch with your loyal customer base
Silence breeds doubt. Be transparent and build positive sentiment around your hotel’s proactive approach to the post-COVID era. Nordic Choice Hotels have done a great job of this.
81% of consumers need to trust a brand in order to buy from them (Edelman 2019)
Your audience is feeling: cautious (and quietly excited about their trip)
Your priority: reassure and manage their expectations
Hooray - your hotel is open for business and a customer has made a booking! Welcome back your returning customers with warmth and celebrate the arrival of new ones. Whether they’ve booked directly with you or through an OTA, make them feel comfortable and ensure there are no surprises upon check-in.
Use your automated pre-stay guest communication tools to manage their expectations and nurture a familiar experience.
- Explain the new guest check-in process and safety measures
- Remind them of your flexible cancellation terms
- Communicate new procedures ie. gym bookings, pool use and in-room dining
- Provide opportunities to enhance their stay - room upgrade, breakfast etc
Your processes may have changed but your personality doesn’t have to. Make sure this comes across in your communications - while guests want safety and cleanliness, they don’t want sterility.
Your audience is feeling: the want to feel special and safe
Your priority: deliver an exceptional, personalized guest service
During stressful times, the value of positive reviews is amplified. Therefore, the need to deliver exceptional service is critical. You must make a good impression, while also respecting each customer’s personal space.
Use technology to offer contactless channels for in-stay guest communication - Whatsapp, SMS, Facebook Messenger, QR codes and more. Encourage guest feedback. But remember, feedback means nothing if it isn't acted upon. Listen, respond and act promptly. Your actions during this stage will determine whether your guests leave a positive or negative online review and recommend your hotel to their friends and family.
Your audience is feeling: (ideally) delighted with their experience
Your priority: build your reputation and boost return visitation
Encourage your guests to provide feedback and leave an online review. The more reviews about your hotel, the stronger position you hold in the purchasing process for future buyers. But make sure you’re an active participant in your online reputation - control the narrative, respond to all comments (positive and negative) and build your brand story.
Create an automated post-stay system to stay in touch with your guests. Follow up with personalized emails including special offers and incentives for their return. And remember, if you want to create loyal advocates, the relationship has just started.
Research shows that online reviews influence the purchasing decision for 93% of consumers (Podium)
As the post-COVID era begins to emerge, one thing is for certain - customer loyalty is key. But we must appreciate the shifting landscape and change in customer behaviour. If done right, you can create loyalty for life.
Loopon by Local Measure is an all-in-one guest experience tool for every stage of the guest journey. Learn more here.