Guest relations – the key to success
A strategy for more direct bookings
Customer Centric Strategy: guest relation above all
The connection between the hotel and a guest is more important than any strategy. It should not get lost in times of digitalisation, but be supported by new channels and possibilities.
Because where there is a relationship, there is communication and where there is communication, there is sales.
According to the Customer Centric Strategy, the needs of a guest are always the top priority. If the guest notices that his counterpart responds to personal wishes, has an open ear and is coherent, he will gain trust and be more willing to make additional purchases and repeat bookings.
Digital touchpoints: Where communication works wonders
Every host knows how important it is to interact with guests in a warm and personal way. However, this is usually limited to the guests’ stay. The time before and after is disregarded - wrongly, because the pre-stay and post-stay phases offer many opportunities to strengthen the relationship with the guest. A well-rounded and effective communication strategy takes into account every touchpoint along the guest journey:
The first contact between reception and guest is through the offer. The offer must arouse emotions, be visually appealing, convey information clearly and directly and be as personal as possible. The quicker it is sent after a request, the more likely it is to meet the guests at the peak of their interest.
What an offer must be like for it to create a relationship:
- Emotional: evocative images and words, because the guest who gets excited before the stay, will certainly get excited during the stay, but above all if you manage to involve them emotionally, you are more easily able to convince them and increase your bookings.
- Beautiful to look at: if it is true that the eye also wants its part, why should we not apply this rule also in our quotes? They are in fact a business card of our hotel. The offer I would like to receive every time I request a quote is simple and quick to read. Because let's face it: today we never read everything. Therefore, there must be bold keywords, clear headlines and well-spaced paragraphs.
- Personalised: copy/paste is not only boring for us who do it, but also for the guest who has to read it. Copy/paste is the perfect antagonist to confirmations, distancing all our actions from being customer centric.
- Clear and exhaustive: what is included and what is not, what the room looks like, where the hotel is located. The more questions we answer even before he asks them, the less unresolved doubts we leave behind. Because every unresolved doubt in the guest is one more step towards non-confirmation.
- Immediate: if I were a hotelier, the ideal offer should be sent shortly after the availability request. Why? Very simple... The sooner you respond with your offer, the sooner you get booked. This is where you play for the gold medal in the race against your competitors. On days when the mailbox is particularly busy, it may not be so easy to get an answer in the short term. There is one rule, however: one should never reply more than 24 hours after receiving the message. All the more so if it is a booking request: the more time elapses since the request, the more interest wanes. And we, we want to catch the future guest at his or her peak of interest.
After confirming the offer, 90 per cent of booking offices start to relax: their goal has been achieved. Not for those who aim to maximise their turnover.
The pre-stay moment, which starts at the exact moment the guest confirms, is a crucial moment for two reasons:
- Getting to know the guest: this is the right time to ask all those questions that will allow you to profile the guest properly (allergies, room makeover preferences, bathrobe size...) and to better prepare for their arrival. The more you know, the fewer complaints he will have when he arrives.
- Push additional services: days before arrival, every guest starts dreaming about his stay. Give him the opportunity to plan it better by booking additional services directly from home: he ensures the availability of all services and you, on the other side of the screen, achieve more and more.
Here, then, is how communication should be at this stage:
- Fast: immediacy in the response is a must-have that, today, every correspondence should respect. The expectations of the guest are increasingly high, especially on communication, in a world where we are always-on.
- Clear and comprehensive
- Simple to understand
- Grouped: how many people have wasted time in their mailbox searching for a specific e-mail from hotel xy? Today, we no longer accept inconvenience and disorganisation, especially when it comes to technology. Grouping every communication with the guest in a single archive will be an added value for both the guest and the receptionist, who by scrolling through the last e-mail will have access to the entire history.
And with Re:Guest this is possible.
During the stay, your receptionists can stand out for their communicative and personal skills. However, even at this stage, there can be digital touch-points. One example is the digital concierge: the digital archive where guests can find all information about the hotel and organised activities.During the stay, the guest certainly expects 'always at hand' (or click) communication. It is important that guests have immediate access to the desired information, such as restaurant timetables, WLAN passwords or excursion ideas, and that they are facilitated in communicating with reception at all times.
The guest leaves without a complaint: all’s well that ends well? At first glance yes, but in the post-stay phase, the potential of digital communication becomes apparent once again. After the guests’ stay, it is important to stay in touch in order to remain in good memory and to turn guests from one-time visitors into regulars.
This can be achieved, for example, through personalised newsletters, which are not only a highly effective but also a free marketing tool. It is also important to actively invite guests to rate their stay and to repeatedly provide them with personalised booking incentives based on their profile.
Post-stay communication must be:
- Friendly: to be able to extrapolate their true feedback of the holiday. Positive or negative reviews are the driving force behind every business. It is important to always be able to get feedback: improving based on guest reviews is the only way to make sure you are always in step with the customer's expectation today and in the future.
- Evocative: he only left a few hours ago, but he must already miss your hotel, the atmosphere, the scenery, the kindness of the staff.
- Sales-oriented: 'Next Next' may be a strategy, but not the most profitable. Studies prove it: the loyalty process is 7 times cheaper than the process of acquiring new customers.
Among the best post-stay communication tools is the newsletter: download the free guide to writing successful newsletters here.