4 Keys to a Personalized Guest Experience

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4 Keys to a Personalized Guest Experience

By Ford Blakely, CEO of Zingle - 11/13/2018
The key to differentiation is creating a truly personalized guest experience.

These days, top-notch service, comfortable rooms and stellar amenities aren't enough to make your hotel stand out; they have become table stakes. Today, the key to differentiation is creating a truly personalized guest experience.

According to Forrester, 77% of consumers have chosen, recommended, or paid more for a brand that provides a personalized service or experience. In short, today’s consumer is looking to consume experiences, and they’ll give their loyalty to the companies that provide them with the most personalized and memorable ones.

Creating personal experiences for your guests requires a lot of hard work and attention to detail, but here are some key things to keep in mind:

  1. Start at the Booking Process

In order to provide guests with a personalized experience, you need to start getting to know them by gathering as much information as you can before they even walk in the door.

In reality, the first time you “meet” your guests is during the booking process. When this happens online, leveraging technology like live chat not only makes the planning and booking process easier, but it’ll also enable you to capture important information about your guests. Live chat has also shown to play a major role in conversions. According to eConsultancy, 51% of people are more likely to make a purchase online if live chat is available to them, and a case study from Marketing Sherpa revealed as much as a 30% increase in conversions when one of their clients added live chat to their websites.

By engaging with your potential guests from the very beginning you can start collecting data that will allow you to anticipate wants and needs at further points during the guest journey and wow them in the process. And while data collection can be a hot button issue, when it comes to using data for good, the majority of guests are all for it. According to a recent Oracle Hospitality Survey, 55% of hotel guests said they would exchange personal details for personalized offers or promotions.

 

Of course, equally important to collecting the data is being able to properly analyze it. This is where  your property management system (PMS) comes into play. A good PMS will allow you to analyze, clean and transform your data to help you learn more about guest behavior and patterns and then act on it.

 

2. Take a Page from Netflix
When it comes to acting on data, we need to look no further than some of today’s most successful companies and how they use the data they collect on us. From Netflix telling us what series we should watch next based on our previous viewing habits to Amazon suggesting recommending products based on past purchases, we are able to spend less time searching and more time taking action based on intelligent recommendations. This is why 71% of consumers report feeling frustrated when they have an impersonal experience. Personalization isn’t just nice to have anymore -- it’s expected.

Luckily, thanks to the data you started collecting during booking, you have what you need to make a guest’s experience personal and memorable. The same Oracle Survey revealed that 69% of hotel guests think personalized offers based on their stated preferences are appealing. The information you have gives you the opportunity to really go above and beyond with recommendations and offers. If a guest is traveling with kids, offer some family friendly activities; if they’re on business, have a maybe give them free access to a conference room; if they have dietary restrictions, give them acceptable options.

These recommendations may seem small, but they pay dividends. 44% of people become repeat customers after receiving a personal experience. Guests appreciate it when you show that you’re paying attention to the little details and making recommendations accordingly.

3. Leverage the Upsell (Tastefully)

Upselling provides you with an opportunity to not only drive additional revenue, but also to provide an even more personalized experience for your guests. Hotels should be taking advantage of the upsell throughout the entire stay.

When done right, guests don’t see upsells as upsells; they see them as you understanding what they want, and using that understanding to try to make their experience better. With 90% of consumers finding it appealing to receive a personalized service from hotel staff that understands their preferences, recommendations or offers, there’s no reason not to enhance your guests’ experience through upselling.

Different parts of the guest’s journey call for different types of upselling. For people who are in the pre-stay phase, you can send them an email welcome and confirm their reservations. This email should also offer them transportation to the hotel, room upgrades, valet services, and a chance to lengthen their stay. During their stay, you should let them know what events are going on in or around the hotel and provide personalized offers and discounts accordingly.

This personalized approach to upselling will not only help you drive additional revenue, but will also deepen the personalization you provide.

4. Take Advantage of In the Moment Opportunities  
To truly make the most of personalization, you need to be available to your guests and offer them what they want, the moment they want it. Now, you physically can’t be everywhere that your guests are; it’s just not possible. But by not being available in some capacity, you miss out on things that pop up during the day.

Segment reports that 63% of consumers say receiving a discount within an hour of interacting with a brand drives loyalty. Having an open line of communication with your guests in place  will allow you to to respond to requests instantly and take advantage of in the moment opportunities as they arise.

Consider leveraging tools like text messaging solutions that allow you to engage guests with timely recommendations for dinner, happy hour, gift shop specials, and more. Post reminders around the building and inform guests at check in that you have this technology in place, and let them know that it means you’re always available to answer questions, make reservations, or offer recommendations.

78% of hotel guests think immediate benefits are more appealing than accumulating points, and 54% of consumers expect a personalized offer after making a purchase. So it may be time to update your guest rewards program. People love instant gratification so try using a loyalty system that allows guests to earn immediate rewards or discounts when they make purchases at your hotel. This system encourages guests to spend, and if they do have leftover rewards, that  just mean they’ll have to come back to use them.
In today's experience economy personalization is of the utmost importance. By taking the extra time and effort to make the experience special and unique to each of your guests, you’ll differentiate yourself from your competitors and keep your guests coming back for more.

Ford Blakely

Ford Blakely is CEO of Zingle