Mobile guest engagement helps hotels build strong bonds with mobile-social Millennials and Gen Xers
What do Millennials and Gen Xers want from the hospitality sector? And how will hotel operators deliver it? A closer look at new guest engagement trends and mobile guest engagement technologies reveals new ways to increase bookings and capture market share among these prized demographics.
New guest engagement trends drive the experience
Engage a new generation of core guests
As their earnings, spending and travel inclinations grow, Millennials and Gen Xers are emerging as the new core hotel guests. This age bracket is impatient, unpredictable, emotional and driven by technology and automation. Their behaviour offers a glimpse into a new culture of connectedness, brand co-ownership and immediacy. Mobile-social Millennial and Gen X guests feel strong bonds with their preferred brands. In exchange for their loyalty, they want a say in how these brands operate. They want the ability to voice their concerns digitally and have these concerns addressed on the spot. Hotels need to be devising ways to capture the hearts and minds of these highly valued consumers.
Engage in the digital domain
Technology is evolving the guest experience and transforming the way guests connect and communicate with hotels. This transformation is changing the way guests think about loyalty, advocacy and bookings. Social-mobile guests expect hotels to treat their loyalty with respect. They expect hotels to pay attention to their needs, acknowledge their concerns and resolve their issues. Perhaps most importantly, they expect to engage in real time, whether they are on or off hotel property.
Engage front-line staff
The guest experience is the execution of a hotel’s brand promise. For hotels, the front line is the bottom line. Informed and engaged employees play a key role in following through on the brand promise. The value placed on quality of experience is defined entirely by the guest, but the delivery of this experience is driven by committed and passionate employees. Front-line staff need knowledge and skills to interact and connect with guests on a personal level. They also need tools that can alert them about issues and enable them to act in real-time to ensure operational excellence.
Engage on social media
Social networking has changed the way guests select hotels. Social media platforms provide a global forum where guests can share experiences, make recommendations and express likes and dislikes. Hotels willing to embrace this shift and actively influence social insights will be better able to increase their bookings, preempt negative reviews, resolve issues more effectively and prevent future problems.
Engage in real time
Forward-thinking hotels are looking for new ways to increase guest satisfaction and address service issues proactively, before guests check out. Traditional post-visit surveys are an important source of satisfaction data, but they have limitations. For example, they aren’t operations oriented or designed for real-time, on-property communications.
Current solutions limit engagement opportunities
One key limitation of post-visit surveys is that guests provide their input after they’ve left the hotel. Insights from survey data come too late to enhance the guest experience or address operational issues on the spot. Hotels can try to apply these post-stay insights, but they’ll always be reacting based on aggregated data. Aggregated data won’t help hotels connect with guests on a personal level, engage them in meaningful conversations, recover them when they are dissatisfied or turn them into loyal customers.
Face-to-face interaction in the hotel offers employees a means to improve the guest experience in real time. But most guests don’t provide feedback – good or bad – directly to hotel staff. This makes it difficult for hotels to take action to address their concerns or respond to their individual requests. This is consistent with recent industry research, which shows that over 90% of guests will not approach an employee face to face, either to express concern or to offer positive comments.
The result is that staff are often unaware of guests’ most important issues. Worse, a significant number of these issues go unresolved. Why is this important? Current research indicates that 95% of guests will revisit a hotel, remain loyal and refrain from posting negative online reviews if their problems are resolved while they’re still on the property.
Mobile guest engagement brings new benefits
Mobile guest engagement solutions helps hotels break down the connection barrier by offering a new medium that hotels can use to connect and communicate with guests during their stay. With mobile-based engagement, guests can connect with the hotel on their own terms in real time using their choice of media. Mobile guest engagement solutions help hotels achieve five key outcomes:
Connect with all guests— Mobile guest engagement allows hotels to communicate with guests during their stay. The ubiquity and ease of use of mobile-based guest engagement generate high response rates (15% to 34%) compared to post-visit surveys (<1%).
Improve operational excellence — The real-time operational capabilities of mobile guest engagement solutions make it easy for guests to get help and offer valuable insights on any aspect of their stay. Hotels can use guest input to motivate employees and improve operations before a guest provides final feedback on a post-visit survey, and before the next guest walks into the hotel.
Create a private, guest-led dialogue — Mobile guest engagement solutions foster two-way dialogue between the guest and the hotel. The guest gains a chance to be heard. The hotel gains an opportunity to respond in real time to satisfy the guest, resolve an operational issue and build a long-lasting guest relationship.
Drive real-time action and resolution — Mobile-based guest engagement empowers hotel staff to take responsibility for the guest experience. Staff members are notified when a guest asks for help and armed with tools and insights that can help solve the problem in real time, before the guest checks out.
Pre-empt negative reviews — Mobile engagement solutions allow hotels to connect with guests privately and resolve issues before they reach social media. Real-time action can help hotels overcome negative experiences, draw out positive reviews and inspire new levels of brand evangelism.
Mobile-social technology is a central part of the guest experience for Millennials and Gen Xers. Real-time mobile guest engagement solutions offer hotels the means to connect and bond with these prized demographics. These solutions empower front-line staff to enhance the guest experience, improve guest satisfaction and foster positive online reviews by acting on customer requests on the spot. By adopting mobile guest engagement solutions, hotels can increment the value of post-visit surveys and realize a tangible return on investment through increased loyalty, advocacy and bookings.