The competition for hotel guests has never been so high as now, in 2021. The World Tourism Organization called the previous year “the worst in the tourism history”. A decline of 74% in international arrivals and the related losses of USD 1.3 trillion make solid proof of this statement.
It seems like the vicious cycle of national lockdowns and travel restrictions has no end. However, more and more vaccine doses are being administered globally. And we expect that this will make our clients more confident about traveling, leading to the gradual revival of the industry.
But what to do now, while the pandemic is still far from over? Your business is going through harsh times, and you need to do something about it. Instead of slashing room rates, try to take a closer look at your guest management tactic.
Efficient guest management includes three main components:
- Collecting a lot of guest data;
- Providing personalized experience;
- Valuing customer feedback.
In this article, we are going to tell more about this approach. Plus, we will reveal the best guest management practices to consider. Let’s get started!
How CRM will help you to reach your goal
CRM stands for “Customer Relationship Management”. In a broad sense, it can be defined as a customer-oriented business strategy. Its main objective is to identify and preserve the most valuable relationships with clients.
The philosophy of this method grounds on making a guest a top priority. To gain loyal customers, you need to deliver an exceptional customer experience. According to Forbes, 86% of buyers will gladly pay more for it! So it is definitely worth it.
The benefits of this approach are clear: you can decrease costs and drive a positive word of mouth. A successful application of this strategy will help you to retain your current guests and engage new ones. Not to mention that it will result in a greater number of favorable reviews.
Sounds pretty tempting, but how can you achieve that? In this case, you need to integrate software that captures guest data, collects and stores such information as purchase history, personal details, and even behavioral patterns. So, to provide guests with an exceptional customer experience, you need to focus on data. And collecting it in sufficient quantities is almost impossible without technology.
As you see, the Customer Relationship Management tactic has much in common with good guest management. Gathering data, providing tailored experiences, and paying attention to feedback is essential for them both. Hence, implementing a customer-oriented strategy is basically the most important thing you can do for your guest management.
The key to the enhanced guest experience
After you get the right software, your next step will be analyzing the customer journey. Each of your clients expects that you will provide top-notch experience during their stay and beyond. For that, you need to know what to do during each stage of your guest’s lifecycle.
There may be different customer journey maps for each individual guest. But, in general, they always have pre-check-in, check-in, in-hotel stay, and check-out stages.
- Pre-check-in stage (booking)
To entice your guest to make a booking, you should know why exactly they visit your region. Make some research and find out about the most popular attractions nearby. Then, you will be able to use this knowledge to customize their experience accordingly. You can offer guided tours, sports equipment rental, or transfer to the place of their interest.
- Check-in stage
At this point, it is crucial to actively engage your guests. Your front desk and housekeeping staff should be polite, attentive, and always ready to help. The worst thing that could possibly happen to your customer is feeling ignored. Make sure that staff is well-trained and can handle all operations quickly with the latest technology.
For instance, you can make their job easier and improve operations with mobile check-In. During the pandemic, this option has become an essential preventive measure for many hotels. It helps to limit queues in the lobby and maintain physical distancing between guests and staff.
Moreover, there is an opportunity to get a negative COVID test result of a guest before their arrival. The guest will send it with other documents through the mobile check-in form. This makes the whole process painless and safe for both parties.
- In-hotel stay stage
The same goes for contactless food and service orders via smartphones. Today’s market offers plenty of solutions that automate hotel processes. Among them, concierge apps are the number one tool. They will help you to meet your clients’ expectations safely during the pandemic.
One of the drawcards of a concierge app includes digital menus. You can use them in your hotel restaurant instead of printed ones. All you clients will need to do is just sit down, scan a QR code on their table, make an order and enjoy their food. Then, they can pay via the same app – no talking involved!
Apart from this, be proactive, recommend activities and services that match your client’s profile. As a rule, VIP guests particularly appreciate personalized options – this is what they pay for! These clients are usually expecting that the hotel will do something unusual to exceed their expectations. Once again, addressing their issues or needs promptly is a vital point as well.
- Check-out stage
Your guests are ready for check-out and you have gathered a lot of data during their stay. Now you can apply predictive analytics and try to guess what they would like to get for their loyalty. It may be a discount or a free room upgrade for their future stay. Let them know what you have prepared, and they will gladly come back again.
Five best practices for your guest management
Now, when you understand a concept of a customer journey, you can build an effective guest-centered strategy. And here are our 5 simple and effective practices that will help you to be a success:
1. Manage customer data wisely
We have already mentioned that data plays an exceptional role in guest management. However, the data cannot be a source of valuable knowledge unless you put it in order. Remember that collecting more than necessary does more harm than good.
Determine what kind of information you really need. Find out which patterns in customer behavior can help you to achieve your business objectives. Get software that can help you to gather data about their allergies, meal preferences, former orders, etc. Analyze it and integrate this knowledge into your current strategy.
2. Provide instant support via the mobile live chat
Help your guests on every stage of their customer journey. If something went out of order in their room, they will need to communicate with staff. Free them from the necessity to make a call or go down to the reception desk. They will gladly choose real-time messaging instead of the less convenient options.
This way, you will show your guests that you care and can provide the first-class service. Moreover, you will be able to quickly address any issues in time, before they turn into a disaster.
3. Know who your guests are and what they want
When you have gathered a sufficient amount of data about the guest, you can personalize amenities to satisfy their wants and needs. Moreover, now you have valuable info that you need to convert first-timers into repeat customers. After they depart, send them e-mails with customized special offers.
Knowing the behavioral patterns of your guests is key to increased revenue. If you are aware of what they like, how, and what they pay most for, you can entice them to come back again. For example, create customized romantic packages for couples, who appreciate active sports and prefer to unwind in the bar.
4. Upsell your rooms by making deals
If you understand the preferences of clients and know their order history, you can effectively upsell your rooms. Create special deals by adding any service to an overnight stay, and setting an attractive price.
For instance, you can sell a “wellness room deal”, which includes a room with a nice view, vegan breakfast, and unlimited spa access. The guests who have already enjoyed this combination of services will absolutely buy such a great bargain.
5. Get involved in online discussions
Take a closer look at bad reviews and note what issues they describe. Do what you can to fix these problems and respond to comments. Show that you are grateful for their feedback. Each negative review is a mine of information that can help you to improve your hotel processes.
In your reply, thank your guests for their efforts and tell them what you will do to solve the problem. Remember, that defensive and aggressive replies from your part may severely harm your reputation.
The pandemic caused a lot of trouble for each of us in the industry. Thus, providing guests with an excellent experience is now more important than ever. Put your customers first, adopt technologies to manage data, and rely on our cost-effective strategies in your approach.