The guest experience does not begin when a guest arrives in your hotel lobby. Rather, it starts the moment a potential guest has their very first interaction with your hotel. The hotels that acknowledge and embrace this can lay the groundwork for a memorable stay while those that ignore this initial touchpoint will stumble out of the gate. To ensure your hotel falls into the first category, be sure to incorporate this pre-arrival checklist into your daily operations.
- Optimize for Mobile. Successfully engaging with guests before they arrive requires the ability to interact with them on a range of different platforms. With mobile phones and devices becoming the most relied upon tool for people booking their holidays, hotels need to ensure that everything from their landing pages to their email correspondence is optimized for mobile. It’s important that every online interaction a guest has with your hotel is smooth and unhindered, and that communications between the two are always easily accessible.
- Automate Correspondence. Investing in a CRM like Guestfolio that can automate much of your pre-arrival communications can be a huge time saver. When intelligent automation handles as much of the process as possible, hotels are able to encourage engagement without overburdening their staff.
- Confirm the Reservation. This should be your first contact with a guest after they have booked a stay with you, so it needs to be both informative and inquisitive. Provide your guest with all the important information pertaining to their reservation, then inquire if they have any particular needs or wants during their stay. This will not only leave the guest impressed with your customer service, but will also ensure your staff are not overburdened with last minute requests once the guest arrives.
- Consult the CRM. Hotels have a wonderful opportunity to bring their guests a wow factor if the guest is a repeat customer. You just need to ensure you have a quality PMS in place. Having access to data from a guest’s previous stay means you have prior knowledge of their preferences and peculiarities, so make sure you use this information to ensure your pre-arrival preparations are focused and effective.
- Customize Communications. Every pre-arrival touchpoint should emphasize a guest’s individuality rather than anonymity. Use their real name (never ‘Dear Sir/Madam’), reference their itinerary and customize the amenities and attractions you highlight based on what you know about the guest. For instance, it would be more effective to offer a family of four information about the hotel’s pool facilities rather than to offer to book them a romantic dinner for two in the hotel restaurant.
- Upsell Strategically. When used effectively, a pre-arrival strategy has the potential to greatly improve customer service and to increase hotel revenue at the same time. Offer guests upsell opportunities that you believe will add the most value to their stay—this way, the offer feels less like a sales tactic and more like an exciting upgrade.
- Solicit Information. Review what you know about a guest and identify any gaps in your knowledge. This then becomes a chance to contact a guest for more information in a way that emphasizes how eager you are to perfect their stay. The key is to be enthusiastic and accommodating rather than a pest.
- Verify on Schedule. Your last pre-arrival communication should be sent out on the day of arrival or the day before. Confirming the reservation can be a helpful way to remind guests of your check in policy and will allow you to subtly emphasize that the hotel is ready and eager to serve.
- Offer Mobile Check In. If you have excelled in the pre-arrival process, a guest will walk through the doors expecting a seamless experience. Using mobile technology to help guests either avoid the front desk or expedite this interaction confirms the image of your hotel that you worked so hard to cultivate in advance.
As soon as you embrace a pre-arrival strategy, your processes begin to improve organically. The more frequently you interact with a guest, the more you learn about that guest. As a result, your data will accumulate to the point where you know exactly what kind of experience someone wants and exactly how your hotel can deliver this. In turn, this will lead to more repeat bookings and recommendations. Therefore, if you want to cultivate loyalty, it pays to start early.
RoomKeyPMS offers a suite of technologies designed to help hotels synthesize their operations and ensure a superior guest experience. If you’re ready to serve guests better before, during and after their stay, contact our team for a consultation.
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