In a society that’s becoming increasingly digitized, and in which travellers have instant access to millions of reviews for thousands of hotel properties around the world, creating a personalized guest experience is more important than ever. Why? Because it’s one of the few ways that hoteliers can really make their properties stand out and win loyalty from their guests. By appealing to guests’ emotions, hotels can build a relationship that lasts for years or even decades.
In practice, tailoring the experience for each and every guest is easier said than done — especially in larger hotels, where management and staff welcome several hundred guests per night. That said, hoteliers don’t need to make every aspect of the guest experience unique; a few touches can go a long way. Here, we’ve listed a few simple things hotel staff can do to create a personalized guest experience.
Use Their Name
It’s a scientific fact that people love to hear their own names. Dale Carnegie even wrote in How to Win Friends and Influence People that “names are the sweetest and most important sound in any language.” When a guest checks in, greet them with their name — whether your staff use their first name or last name depends on the type of property you’re running, and whether you want your relationship with your guests to be casual or more formal — and continue to use their name in all communications with them, whether in person, via the telephone, or by email or text. Using their names is a personalized guest experience that does more than making the conversation feel warm and personal — it also makes your guests feel important and valued.
Offer Personalized, Complimentary Perks
Chances are your staff engage in small talk with guests while checking them in and assisting them with requests and issues throughout their stay. This is a great opportunity for staff to learn about their preferences and create a personalized guest experience. Does your guest read the New York Times? Make a note of it. Is their favorite drink a martini? Make a note of that, too.
Hotel staff can then take what they’ve learned and recorded those preferences in individual guest profiles in the PMS. Staff and management can refer to those notes at any time when they want to make a positive impression on a guest — by putting a copy of the New York Times in the guest’s room before they check in, for example.
How else can you provide a personalized guest experience? Shep Hyken wrote on his blog about the power of the personalized wake-up call. True, this takes a little more effort on the part of the hotel staff, but the rewards are worth it. As Hyken says, with the personalized wake-up call, “the employee not only wishes me a great day, but also offers to send up a complimentary cup of coffee to get my day started.” It’s just another opportunity for a personalized guest experience that makes a great impression on the guest.
Welcome Them Back
When guests check out, it’s already common practice at many hotels to invite them to return. But if, for example, a business traveler already has another stay booked at the hotel by the time they check out, front-line staff should consider referring to it specifically when checking the guest out. It doesn’t need to be anything elaborate — it could be something as simple as, “We’re looking forward to welcoming you back in June, Mr. Smith.” On a basic level, it creates a personalized guest experience while also giving them the sense that they are a participant in an on-going relationship rather than a faceless cog in a transaction.
Use Targeted Marketing
Studies have proven time and time again that consumers are more receptive to targeted marketing messages than they are to generic emails — in fact, 58 percent of all revenue comes from targeted advertising. The should come as no surprise. Each of us has varied tastes, and services that might appeal to one person won’t necessarily appeal to another. Use the data you’ve collected about your guests (perhaps even the data you’ve noted in your PMS system, as we pointed out earlier) to build targeted e-mail marketing campaigns that reflect their preferences and past purchases.
Do you have any personalized guest experience techniques you’d like to share with your fellow hoteliers? Let us know in the comments, or on LinkedIn, Facebook, or Twitter.