Tuesday, December 19, 2017

How to Become Guardians of Your Guest’s Experience

What do a tree, a couple of aliens, a human, and a mutated raccoon have in common? They’re the Guardians of the Galaxy, of course! And while I’m thoroughly enjoying the recent release of Guardians of the Galaxy 2 on Netflix, I’ll spare you the spoilers and tie it back to some industry trends instead. What if I told you that you too could become a guardian…except what you’re guarding is something far more important: your guest’s experience. J.D. Power recently reported that by forging direct relationships, hotels can become “guardians of the guest experience.” How exactly does one become an official guardian? Establish a solid mobile strategy, says J.D. Power. While most major hotel chains have been doing a good job of keeping up with ever-changing guest needs, there still seems to be a bit of a lag when it comes to engaging guests on mobile. It’s undeniable; customers today want mobile before, during, and after their hotel experience. Let’s take a further look at what you need to do in order to become Guardians of Your Guest’s Experience.

Your Secret Weapons
The need to invest in technology that enhances the guest experience is vital, with nearly two-thirds of U.S. guests saying investment in technology is very or extremely important to them. This applies to every moment before, during, and after a guest’s stay, so let’s start at the very beginning, before you guest even books. Your guests are on-the-go, which means they need a quick and easy way to book their stay. Nearly 25 percent of online hotel reservations are now made via mobile (which is significant growth from 14 percent in 2014). Guests are turning to third-party booking sites thanks to their sleek mobile experiences (think: Trivago’s recent switch to a Progressive Web App), which means your mobile booking experience has to exceed expectations if you want those direct bookings to grow. And booking is just the beginning. After booking the hotel, provide a made-for-mobile in-room experience that enable guests to use their phone as a room key, chat with the concierge desk, and order room service–all on the device they already know the best. After the stay, it’s important to give the guest a place and option to review the hotel. Good review or bad, those who read and write reviews are more likely to have higher guest satisfaction–knowing that 52 percent of guests have read about hotels and of those people, 46 percent  wrote a review making it even more important to offer an outlet. Since guest satisfaction is what keeps rooms full at night, mobile is the clear choice.

Superheroes of Guest Experience
J.D. Power identified the top hotels for guest satisfaction, and these guys are the true superheroes of the guest experience. Topping off the list is Marriott, and the reason for their award-winning guest experience is–you guessed it–mobile. Marriott has recently redesigned their app to be more personalized for the guest, and offer micro-experiences that the person will want in that moment of their travel journey. Marriott was the first hotel chain to implement mobile check in and check out capabilities–the beginning of the mobile revolution. They allow guests to use their smartphones as a room key, and request special comforts that will make their stay more restful and satisfying (which means those extra pillows will be there as soon as you walk in the room). It makes sense that Marriott was one of the top hotels in terms of guest satisfaction, not only do they offer luxurious rooms, they also offer a mobile experience to match.

Shoot for the Stars, Not the Status Quo
So, what’s the best way to engage these mobile-hungry guests? Native mobile apps are great and all, but unless you’re a business or serial traveler, you don’t have a need for a hotel app when you’re not staying there. Which may account for the low download numbers on hotel apps–only 19% of all guests have downloaded a hotel app. If you have rewards through the hotel, the percentage goes up, but the damage is still done when your customer deletes your app regardless of being a rewards member or not. So if an app isn’t the answer, what is? Cloud-based mobile apps! A cloud-based app will offer you all the rich functionalities of a native mobile app without asking your customers to download something they’ll only use once or twice per year. It’s the ultimate engagement tool for the hospitality industry, and a way to meet guests exactly where they are in their journey with your hotel–whether they’re checking into your hotel, or just checking in on their rewards points.

All in all, customers are demanding mobile capabilities throughout their entire hotel experience, but they don’t want the unnecessary clutter that comes with native apps. Cloud-based apps offer a solution, something that will delight your customers. It’s time to become the Guardian of Your Guest’s Experience, and mobile is your perfect sidekick.