By Elliot Rieth
With COVID eliminating many of the commodities that were previously drawing in guests to hotels, managers in the hospitality industry must adapt to increase the value of each customer’s stay in new ways. Many of these tips for improving customer experience are relatively simple, but during the time of COVID, even these small changes can be the thing that makes a guest’s stay that much more enjoyable.
1 Effective Communication
New procedures like increased cleaning and comprehensive safety protocols have taken on a larger role in the customer’s decision and overall comfort level when it comes to hotels. As those procedures and policies update and change, it is the responsibility of businesses to communicate with guests properly. Ensuring that these policies are shared, not only on-premise but through all digital channels as well, is key to providing peace of mind to guests who place a higher value on these changes.
Using tools like homepage banners on your website linked to health and safety policies, updated social media posts, and bios linked to policies, as well as communication of these updates during the booking process, will ensure full transparency between business and customer. Bolstering digital contact with on-site materials will give your guests comfort in their stay, as well as confidence in their choice of hotel. Even providing small touches such as complimentary hand sanitizer at the front desk, as well as in rooms, can help instill confidence in your guests when it comes to your hotel’s commitment to these policies.
Showing corporate commitment to guests’ safety is also a plus to improve customer experience. Programs such as Hilton’s CleanStay program and Marriott’s Global Cleanliness Council build confidence in the standards upheld by hotels under their corporate structures. Creating these programs inside the corporate framework establishes a policy of cleanliness that guests can rely on even after COVID is a thing of the past.
2 Optimizing the On-Site Customer Experience
As reservation numbers rise and fall, each guest experience must feel as though they are valued. Adding small tokens of gratitude like complimentary room service, using surplus inventory to upgrade guest stays, and personalized touches can provide that extra value that will turn a new customer into a loyal regular.
Using data from returning guest’s previous stays can also be beneficial when it comes to personalizing their stay. Keeping track of what they may have requested in earlier visits, and being proactive on these requests, can help to build loyalty among your customer base, as well as increase your reputation as a business.
Revamping on-site services such as room service is also a must. Many guests now prefer ordering food to their room over going to an on-site restaurant. So, providing higher quality or more local options may increase their likelihood of ordering food services through the hotel kitchen rather than using services like DoorDash or GrubHub. The guest’s ability to have their room service delivered outside of their room also builds confidence in those attempting to avoid personal contact due to COVID concerns.
3 Remaining Flexible
COVID has created a global environment where plans must remain fluid based on health concerns, family needs, and government regulations. With this uncertainty, providing a customer with the comfort of flexible cancellation policies will help to give guests ease of mind when deciding to book with your establishment. Honoring loyalty program points from bookings without penalty for last-minute cancellations is an additional benefit that can provide guests with confidence and sustain loyalty.
Traveling during COVID is risky and many guests fear of losing out on significant sums of money due to COVID-related issues that prevent them from following through with their plans. Providing guests with refund policies for COVID-related cancellations improves the likelihood that guests will choose your establishment over those without similar policies.
4 Easy Check-In and Check-Out
Contactless check-in and service requests are another element of flexibility that can improve a customer’s comfort level and overall customer experience. Whether through a corporate app or in-lobby kiosks, providing these options for guests minimizes contact and streamlines their experience.
Maximizing cleaning around high contact areas is critical to ensuring guests feel they are safe during their check-in/out process. Providing a quick and clean experience for guests displays a commitment to preparedness and professionalism. Be sure to communicate to your guests when new cleanliness procedures have been adopted as an example of your commitment to their safety.
5 Build Trust and Stay Accommodating
Although there are undoubtedly many more limitations to the modern hotel’s ability to enhance the guest stay, there are also many ways to build a connection with customers that may be simpler than you think. Continuing to seek out these accommodations will continue to develop your business’ relationship to its consumer base and will benefit you long after COVID.
Do you have any further tips or suggestions to improve the customer experience at your hotel, resort or motel? Then why not share your knowledge with your fellow IHS members and contribute an article? Take a look at our content guidelines and email the team with your article suggestions.