If you've been working in hospitality and travel for any time at all, you know that the competition is fierce. Every year, new tech innovations arise, disruptive concepts shake the market, and it is getting slightly harder to compete with such a great number of hotels, accommodations, and the sharing economy.
While it might be intimidating to witness the rise of so many new competitors, there's one foolproof strategy that can boost your business and help it succeed: the seamless merger between technology and a personalized guest experience.
Many disruptive businesses, and the sharing economy, in particular, are getting significant funding by leveraging their affinity for technology. It is true that many aspects of modern businesses are tech-dependent. We are living in the age of fast solutions, instant gratification, immediacy, and high tech - all of which are highly appealing to modern consumers adopting the sharing economy. Especially in travel, tech-fueled accommodations and solutions are regarded as the best-performing ones.
It can be intimidating for traditional hotels to compete against self-proclaimed "tech giants" and new and innovative companies that are, indeed, changing the face of hospitality as we know it. However, in the race towards the latest technology, hoteliers can lose sight of what truly makes their status unique and powerful: the guest experience. When you integrate quality tech solutions into the guest journey, you ensure a seamless merger and the best of both worlds: fast and efficient solutions combined with the personal side of hospitality.
To put it simply, hospitality should be your main goal. So let's assess the tools that you currently have and how they can help you achieve that goal. After years of carefully analyzing the hospitality sector and its particularities, I'd say the most valuable thing that you can do is consider the simple act of listening to feedback. As in everyday life, listening to what someone else has to say, and not just to reply, but to actually take note and improve, pays off for both parts. When you take honest feedback into consideration, you expand your horizons, are able to see things from a different perspective, and you enable better communication. In time, this leads to more trust between your hotel brand and your guests and an improved experience, that better fits their needs. Keep in mind that no one from your internal team will ever be able to give you the complete overview of guest expectations or insights into their hotel stay. Also, your guests are the ones who make or break your business, so their point of view is extremely valuable.
My honest advice and the one strategy that is already well-known for its positive payoff is the constant encouragement of feedback, even prior to a guest's stay. With an automated and customizable survey tool, you can send pre-stay surveys that will give you a "taste" of travelers' expectations from your hotel. Not only that but by receiving notice of their upcoming requests, you have the chance to adjust and improve their future experience. Also, post-stay feedback is great and most certainly welcomed; however, nothing is more useful and actionable than real-time impressions. Tech solutions are definitely expected and most of the time even demanded by guests, but they also need a human experience, a personal interaction that makes them feel unique, respected, and heard. It's important to combine technology with human experiences in such a way that guests don't feel a sudden change when one of them ends and the other begins. A smooth approach that combines tech with real, genuine communication will delight guests and provide them with the best of both worlds.
While on-site, remember to emphasize and leverage your staff. Your hotel status and your team gives you the chance to keep close to guests from the very beginning, instead of letting them figure out the check-in process on their own. You provide them with concierge, possibly 24/7 front-desk, or other forms of human support, so it's important to acknowledge and market that.
Make use of on-site feedback and defuse any possible issues before they turn into negative reviews, spread out there on the web for everyone to see. Do a pulse-check on your guests, and make sure they know you are available to help them with any requests, questions, or issues. That's one thing that the sharing economy cannot guarantee to its users - but you most certainly can. This is now made easier and more efficient than ever through direct messaging tools and solutions. A comprehensive one, like the one we perfected at TrustYou, enables you to provide guests with their preferred communication channels, under one inbox. This acknowledges that every guest is unique and their specific needs are met at your hotel; therefore, a higher level of personalization is achieved throughout the guest journey.
At the end of the day, remember that there's a reason why it's called "hospitality". A hospitable approach is what every traveler is looking for, regardless of the type of service or accommodation they book. Keep in mind that technology is there to ease interactions, to make them more effective and trust-worthy, and to enrich the guest experience. The best solutions are now at your fingertips and you can easily obtain efficient and comprehensive tech software that help support your goals - it's just a matter of knowing why and how to use them for better results, both for your business and your guests.
Franziska joined TrustYou in 2015 and significantly impacted the successful international growth of TrustYou as Chief People Officer with a background in Sales and Business Coaching. She is now heading the Sales Team in Europe, the Middle East, and Africa. Her mission is to provide the hospitality industry with efficient and technologically sophisticated solutions to guarantee a positive guest experience and to help grow the revenue.