By Tina Nazier and David Hanyzewski
In an experience-driven industry like accommodations and hospitality, the guest is everything. Their delight means repeat business and referrals. But many organizations aren’t sure of how to create a culture based on guest delight.
In part I, we talked about how assessing and developing your culture, focusing on your employees and developing and aligning organizational strategy can help you create a culture of guest delight.
In part II, we’ll not only cover tips 4-6 but also how you can measure guest delight.
Tip #4: Keep your technology up to date
Guests have high expectations around technology, making it essential for your organization to use technology appropriately, proactively and creatively. You need multichannel technology tools that enhance the guest’s experience.
It’s the TV in the guest’s room that’s already turned on, playing relaxing spa music, when they walk in for the first time. It’s the updated, compatible and easy-to-use technology in your conference spaces that make it easy to conduct business. It’s the digital check-in and check-out process. And if your property markets an unplugged experience, it’s finding ways to creatively bridge the gap between our tech world and your cherished unplugged experience.
Getting technology right starts before they even make a reservation. Does your website delight guests? Is your registration process clear and easy? Do you send them an email or text message before their stay to welcome them and ask if there is anything they need before they arrive?
And at the end of their stay, have you gotten the billing right? Do you follow up with them in real time as well as after regarding their experience? Technology must flow and enable delight from before, during and after the stay.
Tip #5: Study your competitors
Imagine success as a three-legged stool. First focusing on how to attract new guests, then maintaining the guests you currently have and finally sending delighted guests home as reliable referral sources.
Creating a culture of guest delight will enable you to do all three of these, and observing how your fiercest competitors approach these challenges can shed light on strategies that may aid you in your pursuit of developing a balanced stool.
Who are your most successful competitors? What makes them successful? What components of theirs align with your desired culture?
Studying a worthy competitor means more than just benchmarking against them. What can you learn from the way they serve? The culture they’ve developed?
Tip #6: Create a recovery plan
Creating a culture of guest delight isn’t easy, and chances are you’re going to have some misfires. It’s important to have a recovery plan that takes into account how to address something your organization has not succeeded at. This includes employee- and technology-related mistakes.
From overbooking to forgetting or mishandling guest preferences to experiencing issues with an outlet, mistakes happen. It’s how you and your team respond to them in the moment that will define the guest engagement experience.
Your guest knows you truly care about them when you’re willing to humbly admit to your role in not providing an exceptional guest experience and offering ways to make it right. Your recovery plan should put guests first, dictate that they be given your full attention, and ensure employees truly listen to them while refraining from shifting blame. Guest delight can come from surprising places, even mistakes.
How to measure guest delight
Once you’ve created a culture of guest delight, it’s important to measure engagement from the guest perspective as well as the employee perspective. This ensures an environment that remains conducive to delivering delight.
Reading online reviews and sending out surveys can help measure guest delight. Looking at statistics like returning guests, guests in one region vs. another, and data on the brand as a whole can help you determine if you have created brand loyalty.
An effective surveying process starts long before the guest arrives. Send them a text or email that says “We’re preparing for your visit and look forward to welcoming you. Is there anything we can do before you arrive to make your stay more comfortable?”
We can’t emphasize enough the importance of continuous guest delight touch-points during their stay. As an example, your front desk team member can text a guest shortly after checking them in to ask how their experience has been so far and if there’s anything they can do for them.
Before checkout, employees should ask guests, “Can we do anything for you before departure?” At check out, they should ask, “How was your stay? Is there anything we can do to make your next stay better?”
Make sure that guest experience is monitored proactively as a leading indicator of success versus measured only after the guest experience is complete. The continuum of gathering experience information should encompass pre, point and post visit. And there are many tools that can help you put this in place.
Understanding your employee engagement is a window into guest satisfaction. High guest satisfaction usually means employees are serving guests well. As we mentioned in tip #2, make sure to first serve employees so they can better serve guests.
Create your culture of guest and customer delight
From assessing and developing your culture to creating an organizational strategy, Wipfli can help your organization create a culture of guest delight. Click here to learn about our accommodations/hospitality services.