In the second part of our two-part series examining the importance of the guest life cycle (GLC), we want to take a closer look at the guest departure process and post-stay period. While the pre-arrival stage is important in setting guest expectations, and the arrival and duration of a guest’s stay are critical to meet (or exceed) these expectations, the departure stage is focused on turning guests into loyal customers. After all, your relationship with a guest shouldn’t simply end when they check out.
Departure forms the final impression of a hotel, and post stay is your opportunity to entice guests to visit again. These latter stages can have a very real impact on your hotel’s bottom line, so the following strategies are designed to help hotels make the most of this opportunity:
- Track Every Stay. The only way for hotels to know what guest want the next time is to track their preferences and requests during their current stay. A comprehensive PMS makes it easy to capture, store and analyze data across a variety of guest touchpoints that can be relevant for ongoing engagement with individual guests.
- Perfect Check Out. The hotel lobby is the last place guests want to linger at the end of their stay. Making the check out process as quick, easy and flexible as possible ensures that a hotel does not make a negative impression just as guests are on their way out the door.
- Use Comment Cards. Prominently displayed comment cards with clear and compelling copy are still an effective way to get feedback from guests. Hotels can go a step further and actually schedule an in-room call with guests at the end of their stay to get feedback and address any final issues. Reaching out to guests directly makes soliciting feedback feel like VIP treatment.
- Monitor Social Media. People turn to social media to praise or complain about their hotels, and they reveal things that don’t come out in comment cards. Regularly reviewing comments on Twitter and reviews on travel advisory sites is a great way to tap into the thoughts and feelings of guests post stay. In some instances, it can even be worth reaching out to negative reviewers to see if your hotel can do anything to rectify the guest’s bad experience. Remember: it’s never too late to turn a negative guest experience into a positive one.
- Email Surveys. This is an easy and inexpensive way to query guests about specific aspects of their stay. The key is to time when the email arrives, how it is presented and what it requests of guests. Ideally, guests are eager to offer honest feedback rather than annoyed by the unwanted email.
- Create Guest Profiles. All of the information you collect during departure and post stay should be fed into individual guest profiles that incorporate information about demographics, preferences and past visits. Since taking advantage of the GLC is all about understanding the unique needs of individual guests, the specificity of profiles is a huge asset.
- Target Outreach. In order to successfully engage with guests after their stay, emails and other outreach offers must be carefully targeted. They should correspond to times when guests are known to travel, make offers that appeal to their known interests and use copy that incorporates personalized information. When targeting is done well it turns a marketing message into an undeniable opportunity.
- Get Systematic. The departure process can happen quickly while the post-stay period can stretch on for months or years. The final steps of the GLC involve a lot of moving parts and ongoing obligations, which is why a systematic approach is essential. Relying on technology to automate the effort empowers hotels to expend fewer resources yet achieve a higher level of service and satisfaction.
The GLC is not one aspect of the hospitality business—it’s the substance of the entire industry. The hotels that understand and perfect each stage in the life cycle enjoy long-term loyalty and brand evangelism in return. To learn much more about how each stage works and could work better, download this free white-paper full of comprehensive insights.
Solutions from RoomKeyPMS make managing GLC certain and seamless. When you’re ready to effortlessly engage and excite guests, reach out to our team.
Photo Credit: Shutterstock / fizkes