How Technology Can Help Hotels Become Fans’ Preferred Stay-of-Choice for Live Events
With stadium tours and festivals in full swing, fans are flocking to events across the country, prompting a need for quick-turn lodging accommodations. From proximity to the venue to pricing, a variety of factors influence where these travelers ultimately end up booking their stays. Some winning properties have become inundated with bookings, while other hotels are in the position of needing to adapt in order to attract and convert this segment of customers.
As properties navigate a busy live event season, technology can help brands understand the forces that are driving successful bookings, unlock clues to customers’ preferences, identify ways to improve their offerings and stand out among the competition.
Winning Over Guests During the Booking Process
The traveler journey begins with the research phase, as guests figure out where to stay and complete the booking process ahead of live events. Regardless of the channels individuals use during this step — a company’s website, app, live chat support or contact center phone support — they tend to leave many customer signals along the way that shed light on their customer experience.
As potential guests explore a hotel’s website or app, their digital behavior, including how much time they spend scrolling, the content they view and the steps they do or don’t take, can indicate whether they’re finding what they need to successfully book and if anything is getting in the way of completing the transaction. Digital behavior analytics tools can track key activities, such as erratic website clicks and abandonment rates, as well as customers’ overall frustration scores when using an app or website. Heatmaps provide a visualization of how website and app users interact with a given channel, while session replay technology provides video replays of user interactions to help companies get an anonymized view of how individuals interact with a property’s digital channels. These different tools combined can reveal issues that are leading to higher abandonment rates so properties can intervene.
For instance, if companies are seeing there’s a step in the booking process that’s leading to confusion, they can revamp that experience or trigger a pop-up that connects the customer to a live agent for help with completing the booking.
Additionally, transcripts from conversations between potential guests and the contact center can provide insights as to whether an agent is being helpful or not and pinpoint areas of friction during the booking process. Companies can leverage AI-powered text and speech analytics to instantly transcribe voice, video and text conversations to uncover high priority areas that are most impactful to the guest journey. For example, properties may realize that a straightforward fix, such as adapting a guest policy or updating the script for agent calls, could help increase bookings and revenue.
It’s critical for companies to capture and analyze customer insights both at scale and in the moment to be able to take the right kinds of data-driven actions that solve problems at the individual level, remedy the root-cause of systemic issues and drive conversions. This is especially important when properties experience surges in guest research and booking activity related to upcoming live events in the area.
Fostering Guest Loyalty During the Stay
One step hotels can take during the booking process that can help to strengthen guest loyalty during the in-stay experience is asking about the guest’s primary reason for traveling. This helps properties segment customers into groups, such as identifying those traveling for a live event.
Typically, this type of information gets captured after the fact through post-stay surveys, which is a missed opportunity. Proactively capturing this feedback at the beginning of the process empowers hotels to offer a more personalized experience, such as delivering targeted marketing messaging and offering tailored services related to the purpose of their travel ahead of and during the stay — whether it’s extending complimentary late checkouts for those with an evening event or suggesting add-on ride services to and from the venue as an extra convenience.
Another tactic hotels can use to improve the in-stay experience is using two-way messaging technology to send in-app and SMS messages to find out if anything can be done to improve the experience during the visit, such as providing an additional cleaning service to meet the guest’s satisfaction. Properties tend to survey guests after the fact, but savvy brands are proactively checking in on guests upon arrival and throughout their stay. Engaging customers in real-time using these conversational technologies will help hotel staff address issues that could negatively impact the experience in the moment to improve the remainder of the guest’s visit.
There’s a very strong demand for travel and in-person experiences after years of disruption due to the pandemic. As a result, the opportunity is ripe for hotels to capture market share of guests who are excited to travel and attend live events.
To take advantage of this, however, properties need to be open to embracing new ways of catering to guests as expectations have evolved. Hospitality brands that want to become a destination of choice need to be intentional and adopt data-driven, personalized approaches to meeting guest needs.