The importance of personal touch in the digital age
Ever turned down going to a high-end restaurant for one that your best friend told you about? Then you probably understand why personal recommendations are crucial, especially in the hospitality industry. These days, most hotel rooms have the basics covered...a comfortable bed, clean sheets, luxury toiletries and bath linens, a television, WiFi access, etc. So what are the things that distinguish one hotel from another?
For your guests to recommend your hotel, they need to have had a memorable stay. Creating a unique customer experience gives them something to talk about, not just with their social circles, but on their social media, as well. For instance, at Hyatt Andaz in New York, hosts circulate the lobby instead of having a regular front desk. Guests are invited to be seated and sip a cup of coffee or wine, as the host checks them in via an app on a tablet.
Hotels needn’t make extravagant changes or gestures. Most guests do not expect that either. But, there are a few simple things hotels can do to instantly improve guest experience and keep them talking about you long after their stay.
#1. Effortless check-in and check-out
Nobody likes to wait in a check-in queue after a long journey. It’s one of the reasons why some travellers prefer Airbnbs to hotels. A seamless process makes life easier for you and your guests. How can you do this? Shorten the check-in process by collecting all relevant information during booking. Instead use this time to get to know your guests, so you can add a little something to their stay.
People also love flexible check-in and check-out timings. Most people travel early in the morning or late at night, as fares are cheaper at these times. Traditional 2 pm check-in doesn’t suit the urban traveller. Flexibility in these timings is guaranteed to get your guests singing your praises.
#2. Create personalised experiences upon analysing data
Big data and digital marketing trends haven’t escaped the hospitality industry. When used effectively, it can provide hoteliers with an opportunity to improve customer relations and the way they do business.
Where can you start? Treat a returning guest with a special welcome. This little gesture goes a long way in making your guest feel valued and remembered.
#3. Help them experience the city, not just the hotel
Your guests have travelled long and far to experience a city, and not just your hotel. Aim to help them understand the culture of the place. Talk to them about the local people, food, and history. You can further curate a list of must-dos in the city, and place it in the lobby. Also make sure to give them a heads up about any risks they may not be aware of, as a newcomer in the city.
#4. Make personal connections
Add heart to your hospitality by training your staff to be observant and to anticipate your guests’ needs. Notice a child crying over his lost toy? Go ahead and have the floor manager get the kid a plushie from the hotel’s gift shop. Found that your guest is feeling a bit under the weather? Send some hot soup to her room, complements of the hotel. Encourage your staff to converse with your guests, and most importantly, identity and reward them for their efforts.
There are, of course, a myriad of other ways to add a personal touch to your service. The first step to them all - listen to your guests’ feedback. Be creative and identify gestures and practices that best suit your hotel’s values and business model.