Managing expectations and delighting guests is a challenge for every modern hotelier. Guests themselves are changing in what they are looking for in a hotel. To promote a great guest journey and create guest satisfaction, managers and staff must understand this and adopt new technologies and ways of working.
Every hotel should have satisfied guests, but that can be a difficult thing to measure. What does it take to deliver and how improve guest satisfaction in a hotel, and what are the benefits of promoting it? Here we’ll look at the hows and whys, and what high guest satisfaction can do to boost the profile of a hotel in online reviews, and with OTAs.
A hotel which fails to satisfy guests will be impacted, and find it hard to recover business and reputation. In contrast, a hotel which scores well on cleanliness, value, great staff and excellent facilities is set for success. But even these factors are no longer enough - they are simply the basics which must always be right. Guests are now looking for additional services which match their own tech-savviness. The guest journey must be smoothed by seamless technology for easy booking and payment, contactless check in and check out, and convenient features such as keyless room access.
It’s not just about smart solutions though, because increasingly a satisfied guest is one who has a personalised experience of a hotel. This means being ‘seen’ and ‘heard’ - recognised as an individual with particular needs which are not the same as everyone else’s. Guest satisfaction no longer comes as one size fits all and successful hotels are recognising this.
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What is hotel guest satisfaction?
Guest satisfaction can be defined as ‘The overall level of contentment and fulfilment experienced by a guest during their stay’, but different things will be weighted differently by guests. For example, a friendly and helpful front desk experience may count higher than a less than perfectly clean bathroom. Or not. ‘Wonderful’ or ‘Terrible’ could be the resulting one-word review by a guest, which doesn’t really help hotel management understand the experience, or suggest to future guests whether their expectations will be satisfied if they book into that particular hotel.
Why guest satisfaction is important
Understanding guest satisfaction means that hotels can flex to meet the true needs of guests, and therefore make informed decisions. Take for example the increasing trend of ‘Digital Nomads’ who live and work from hotels, often geographically distant from their employer or clients. These guests need great always-on internet connection, communal areas with 24/7 coffee and snack facilities, and rooms which lend themselves to working, and not merely vacationing.
Someone like this is unlikely to experience high satisfaction in a traditional hotel setup, and yet adjusting to their needs is relatively simple. Rather than being viewed as a ‘difficult’ or ‘demanding’ guest, the needs of a Digital Nomad or ‘Bleisure’ guest can be easily met by the hotel. That is, if the hotel has taken the trouble to find out what the guest journey actually comprises.
Hotels which find, exploit and satisfy a niche will do well, because by definition a niche market is narrower, and easier to reach and service. Instead of talking to the whole world, you’re addressing a segment. There’s nothing inherently wrong with trying to appeal to Hipsters and Retired Couples at the same time, but their needs may be quite different.
Knowing their guest, and what satisfies them gives hotels a superpower: A relationship is begun which can be continued, and can spread within a target audience who the hotel increasingly gets to know and understand. Repeat business, and more new recommendations is the result.
Improve your hotel reviews
Hotels with consistently high guest satisfaction ratings and positive reviews gain a competitive edge in the market. Potential guests compare multiple options before making a booking decision, and positive reviews will steer their choice in favour of one hotel over its competitors.
While people do read brochures, and browse hotel websites, there’s always the suspicion that this might be merely ‘advertising puff’. Genuine reviews by guests who have stayed in a hotel and can post about their experience are seen as more credible. Reviews are hugely influential in tipping the balance between a guest choosing one hotel over another. High guest satisfaction expressed through reviews is the surest way of attracting further business, or negatively impacting business if reviews are not good. The simple fact is that satisfied guests post positive reviews, and will even do this during their stay. People like to show friends and family the beautiful hotel they’re staying at, and write about their initial experience.
Within the hotel, an app such as GuestAdvisor from SabeeApp provides the possibility of instant feedback after check in - or at any time during the stay. This gives the hotel the unique opportunity to discover if there are any potential mistakes, errors or dissatisfaction from the guest’s point of view, and then remedy these. Not all guests are willing to confront staff with a complaint, but they’ll certainly be willing to register the problem in an easy to use app (which is also feature rich with recommendations and access to extra hotel services).
Managers and key staff need to up their game to be aware of what is being posted about their guest experience across many different platforms, through their own surveys, and apps like GuestAdvisor. The feedback should result in more of what’s good, and the rapid response to fix anything which negatively affects guest satisfaction.
The importance of personalisation
Yes, all the things that every hotel should get right must be in place. Of course rooms should be in great condition, clean and comfortable. Yes, food and beverages must be appropriate for the standard of hotel. Welcome packs and gifts are always appreciated too, and can influence how valued guests can feel on arrival. And of course staff have to be attentive, friendly, and knowledgeable.
Increasingly, technology can be applied to the routine work that has until recently tied up staff time, such as registration and payment. Less time staff are engaged in such work means more time to be guest-facing, with the intention of not merely serving guest needs, but of delighting them.
Customisation and personalisation come in here, enabled by technology. Using a Hotel Management System allows touchpoints all the way through the guest journey, where individual details can be recorded, and acted on.
Have guests mentioned a special occasion in their booking enquiry? Have they broached special diets, or any allergies? What are their interests in local activities, and is this their first time in the area?
Any information given can be recorded in the PMS, rather than relying on a hard-pressed member of staff to make notes, and pass them on to colleagues. And once such details are in the system, they are there forever, alerting staff to recurring events such as a birthday or an anniversary.
How to measure guest satisfaction
Guest behaviour is changing. People shop around for the hotel which best matches their needs, and pay attention to reviews by other guests. Guests want and expect personalisation and customisation, with high functioning technology. Hoteliers are playing catchup, in the mistaken belief that the pre-pandemic, old order will soon return. Here’s the news: it won’t, it’s gone. Guests know what they want, often better than hoteliers do, so the drivers of guest satisfaction must be understood. A polite, ‘Did you enjoy your stay?’ is not enough, as the guest leaves the hotel.
Some ways of finding out what a guest is feeling include:
Surveys - on paper or online
Must be designed to get real information, using ratings (scoring out of 5, or 10), and multiple choice questions. In this way opinions can be gathered which are not merely wholly negative, or wholly positive. The hotel discovers both its strengths and weaknesses, seen from the guest’s point of view. Of course having discovered these, it must then act on the survey findings.
Online culture encourages instant sharing of opinions, and many guests find it easier and more natural to post reviews on OTA platforms or social media, rather than through a hotel’s own channels, such as a survey or comment cards. Hotel management should therefore monitor online reviews and respond to them in a timely manner wherever possible.
Mystery shopping is an old but still valid concept, where the guest journey is assessed and commented on by someone separate from, but working on behalf of the hotel. It’s a sometimes brutally honest way of spotting both failings… and points of excellence.
The result of such proactive enquiry into guest satisfaction is that points can be assessed and responded to, therefore steadily improving the offering of a hotel.
Of course no guest will want to be bugged by constant questions about the quality of the coffee or the wi-fi, but measuring satisfaction is important. If out of 50 online reviews, 3 adversely mention housekeeping issues, then that’s 6% of guests who are dissatisfied. If out of 25 posts, 10 praise the leisure facilities, then mark that up as 40% approval (and resolve to do even better). The metrics can’t be exact, but add in the results from surveys, and a degree of measurement becomes possible. Then compare and contrast this with competitors, and against pre-defined goals that have been set within your own hotel. Measuring satisfied guests needs a yardstick to compare against, otherwise how can complaints or congratulations be assessed?
How to improve guest satisfaction in a hotel
Paying attention to guest satisfaction is a must-do for hotels wishing to regain traction in a post-pandemic world, while moving on from the old ways. Creating a personalised customer experience is the way forward, supported by sophisticated and seamless tech at every stage of the guest journey.
1. Discovering hotels, and comparing options
Making it easy for guests to see positive reviews on OTA platforms and through social media, by monitoring posts and responding proactively to them.
2. Booking process
Designed to be smooth and seamless, and to automatically capture personalised information about the guest.
3. Pre-stay communication
From the first to last touchpoint the guest receives high quality, personalised information which looks and feels tailored to their needs.
4. Arrival, check-in
Should be tech-enabled, to include pre-registration and features such as keyless room access. A tech-enabled check in means that front desk staff are freer to give real attention to guest needs. And a welcome drink, or gift is always appreciated.
5. During stay
Must be frictionless at all points. And if there is any problem it has to be solved quickly and without fuss. Guests will usually forgive something like a maintenance issue if it’s quickly rectified.
Has to be as smooth as the check in process. Billing at check out should also be easy - the hotel has all the guest’s payment details, and an automated record of any extras, so there’ll be no waiting around at reception while the bill is added up. Just because the guest is now leaving doesn’t mean it’s all over.
In many cases, guests may already have started reviewing their hotel before checking out, but after they have left, monitor as closely as possible any reviews they now leave to find out what they truly thought of the guest journey. And whatever it was, act on it.
Helping you enhance guest satisfaction
SabeeApp is an all-in-one Hotel Management System for modern hoteliers, offering user-friendly solutions which assist at every touchpoint of the guest journey. From Front Desk components, through Channel Manager, Internet Booking Engine, a Payment Gateway, and a host of other features, SabeeApp automates the smooth running of hotels, allowing staff to concentrate on what really matters: guest satisfaction.
You can learn more about SabeeApp, and how to boost the guest experience, by booking a free SabeeApp demo.