The effect the COVID-19 pandemic has had on the hotel industry cannot be overstated. The resulting changes in travel patterns and broader consumer behaviors have had the single greatest impact within the modern era of the hospitality industry.
But these changes also present an opportunity for hospitality brands to rethink guest satisfaction.
#1: Understand and meet changing customer needs to deliver exceptional experiences
While COVID-19 may have changed the nature of customers' most pressing concerns, the underlying need to meet customer needs hasn't changed.
Many of the new areas brands need to prioritize to win guest satisfaction aren't new at all.
The essentials of customer-centricity are all the more important. By committing to offering top-notch experiences throughout the guest journey, your property has the chance to remake the new hotel guest experience, get ahead of the competition, and ensure guest satisfaction.
#2: Be transparent about updates
As individuals begin to start traveling again, they're looking for hotels to offer a safe, clean environment.
Be upfront about the amenities you're offering and changes that have been made to the check-in process and stay to prioritize guest safety on your website.
#3: Keep up with contact center demand support
People who are traveling are more likely to need customer support during the discovery and booking process and as changes in plans come up.
There's been a tremendous demand for contact center support relative to the volume of business. Win guest satisfaction right from the start by making sure there are enough staff to answer calls, texts, and emails quickly and thoughtfully.
#4: Offer seamless experiences — for the contactless age (i.e. self check-in, SMS messaging, and more)
While before mobile self check-in and guest texting might have been nice to have, today global brands offering these options have a competitive advantage. Customers are not only asking for these, they're using them more than before the pandemic.
Initiate mobile messaging with guests on the day of their stay. Check in with a message like, "Hi there, We look forward to your stay. When do you think you'll arrive? Is there anything we can do to make your stay more comfortable?" and, as travelers approach your property, follow up by saying, "Hey, we're excited to welcome you. Is there anything you need?"
Continuing the conversation throughout their stay gives customers the ability to get help directly from their phone without having to leave their bed.
Mobile messaging not only represents an opportunity to demonstrate that your property is interested in taking care of the customer, it's also effective for upselling, such as offering room service with fewer dining options due to the pandemic.
#5: Optimize employee experience to drive customer satisfaction
Work has changed for hotel employees across the board. And, they may lack in-person coaching and professional development opportunities. That's why it's more important to provide resources and training.
Beyond offering educational tools, hotels that involve employees in the process of creating, rolling out, and updating new policies during this time of change stand to benefit.
With business evolving rapidly over the past year — and things likely to remain in flux for the foreseeable future — we've seen companies using Medallia's technology to solve issues by conducting quick employee surveys when new policies or updates are implemented.
Compared with annual employee surveys, these ongoing check-ins provide immediate insights that can be put into motion in the moment, speeding up innovation and iteration.
#6: Resolve guest issues as they're happening — and address underlying problems at scale
There's one incredibly effective approach that the brands we work with have implemented. Immediately after customers check in and first log in to use the hotel's WiFi, leading properties are asking guests to share their first impressions of their room.
Asking how things are going offers the chance to not only improve the guest experience at the individual level, and also uncover trends and issues at scale. By identifying problem rooms or experiences guests notice when they arrive, your team can intervene and even prevent issues.
#7: Prioritize guest engagement to build satisfaction
It's long been believed that guests with negative experiences are the most likely to leave customer reviews. This trend can be balanced out by avid reviewers, according to new research from The Hotel School, the Cornell SC Johnson College of Business.
Hotels that engage guests, solicit opinions, and respond to comments, and then encourage individuals to leave hotel reviews are not only more likely to see an increase in reviews, they're also more likely to see guest satisfaction metrics increase. In fact, guests who share feedback with hotels are more likely to become loyal customers by upwards of 50%, according to these Cornell researchers.