The Fundamentals of Guest Engagement In Hotel Management
Engagement is when you successfully “engage” someone. That word has many different meaning, but when it comes to Guest Engagement, we are talking about this definition:
a : to hold the attention of : ENGROSS : her work engages her completely
Couple that definition with the following:
b : to induce to participate: engaged the shy boy in conversation
Level-setting on this word is important as Customer Engagement is now applied to just about anything having to do with commerce. But hotels are different than many other products and services. Hotels are judged solely by the quality of the customer’s experience. If we want our guests to fully experience the best of what the hotel has to offer, then hotel management needs to engage them, or per the definitions above, induce them to participate and engross them in that experience.
Engagement starts with the execution of the basics
Tom Conran of Greenwood Hospitality said, “[Engagement] starts with the execution of the basics. As hotel owners and operators we acknowledge that an efficient check-in process, a clean room and a quality staff are “must haves.” Meaning, your guest will not be induced to participate in an experience that doesn’t meet basic expectations. He is really talking about the quality of the basic hotel-to-guest touch points.
Let’s talk about these basics. “An efficient check-in process” is his first observation. Efficiency has to do with the best use of time and effort to result in a positive outcome. How do we make hotel check-in more efficient? Tom goes on to say, “… while [digital interactions] don’t involve a handshake or a face-to-face conversation, it is quickly becoming a preferred method of communication in the hotel management industry, and thus engagement, for and with current and future guests.” He is talking about the evolution of how people prefer to interact with others. Logic follows that if people are used to interacting digitally, then that interaction is easy for them. So let’s apply that to the check-in process and provide our guests mobile check-in. By allowing guests to check in using their mobile phones we help them conserve time and decrease effort for a positive outcome. Presto – we are immediately engaging the customer because we are not only getting the basics right, we are making them better.
The second point he makes is about room cleanliness. Well, in some ways, that speaks for itself. Regardless of whether you are in an economy hotel or a luxury hotel, you expect whatever the room product is to be clean. Let’s assume for a moment that all of your housecleaning staff members are excellent at cleaning. So there should never be a problem, right? Well, sometime it isn’t the cleaning that is the issue. Sometime it is the communication. Maybe the room is ready, but it hasn’t been updated in the system because the staff is using walkie-talkies or pencil and paper. That means the guest can’t get to his or her clean room. Or maybe the antiquated housecleaning management process means that a room is missed and the guest walks in on a mess. Let’s raise the quality level of this process and arm the staff with mobile devices where they can update the room status into the hotel housekeeping app function of their PMS in real time. Presto again – we have improved upon the basics.
Transform your lobby to a social and community experience
Lastly, Tom mentions “quality staff.” Like room cleanliness, this is sort of a given for hotels. But how can we make this basic concept better? It used to be that the only time you would be able to judge staff quality is when you walked up to the front desk. Now hotels are changing their service model and even physical interiors to focus more on guest engagement. Instead of making the big granite desk the focal point for guest interactions, hotels are taking their PMS mobile in the form of tablets. They are coming out from behind the desk to help them check in, not only in the lobby, but also at curbside and even at the arrivals terminal in the airport. By making staff mobile, wherever the guest is becomes the focal point for interaction. That increases the sense of special attention, and literally provides a more engaging experience for the guest.
Plus, forward thinking hotels have transformed their lobby space from a waiting room model to a social and community experience. Staff and guests intermingle, naturally inducing engagement and participation from guests. With their property management system on a small device, the staff can process requests anywhere, just as a cocktail waitress might service a lounge. Perception of staff quality goes up as the guest is truly being put first.
In summary, you won’t engage your guests unless you get the basics right. But in this competitive world, “right” is just not enough. You need to get the basics better than right and a mobile hotel management strategy will get you there.
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