How To Build Stronger Relationships With Hotel Guests, During & After Their Stay
Happy guests come back. Happy guests write good reviews so new guests come to your hotel. Happy guests engage with hotel amenities and buy add-ons. Happy guests are good revenue sources and are good for business. Seeking to increase ancillary revenue? Improve the strength of your relationship with your guests and make them happy.
Let’s start with a few ideas to raise your game while the guest is on-property.
Respect their time and their priorities.
Let’s be clear. You want to develop a good relationship with your guests, but remember – they are NOT at your hotel for you. They are here for business or leisure and you can be guaranteed that 8 times out of 10, they are pressed for time. And when you first see them, they have spent a lot of time traveling, instead of or either relaxing or getting work done. When they walk into the lobby, you, Mr. Hotelier, are now seen as a speed bump on their way to the start of the real purpose of their journey. So give them a gift that they will be grateful for. Give them a way to reduce the time required to check in to your hotel. Provide mobile check-in or a lobby kiosk check-in option so they can skip the line and get on with their stay. And when they are wanting to laze around in bed on the last day, give them the option to order a late check-out easily from their mobile phone. The best relationships often benefit from respecting the other person’s priorities and giving them some space and time.
Give them space when they need it, but don’t be a ghost! Service is about being available when needed, so don’t make the guest go out of their way to find you or the right person to fulfill a request. Stay mobile. Move through the hotel and check in with guests. You can leave the front desk and roam because you have a modern, mobile PMS that will give you access to all hotel functions at any time.
If you are an independent hotel, you may not have a loyalty program. But you still have VIPs. These are the guests that come back more and spend more. Your PMS should make it crystal clear who these people are and should help you prep for their arrival. The first rule for handling VIPs – show appreciation. Yes, a handwritten note works wonders, but also make sure that every staff member knows who they are. Personal greetings by name go a long way when building relationships.
Listen… and take notes.
We all know that service starts with listening. But we are not always good at remembering. That’s when you need that modern, mobile PMS that will allow you to record all those personal notations about the guest so that the entire organization is better prepared to provide even better service. That way, when the next staff member is stopped by the guest in the hallway later that day, they can immediately look up the notes on that guest.
While you have that mobile PMS in your hands, go ahead and route the guest’s request to the appropriate department immediately. The guest will see you put in the request into the PMS immediately and will be happier knowing that action is being taken right now. Seeing is believing.
Monitor the Social Channels.
You may be able to respond to an unhappy guest on-property before they get to the review phase. Yes, it takes time and effort, but it shows that you listen and that you care. And if you catch that negative tweet, your positive effort will most likely be followed up by a positive tweet – and review.
So now the guests leave the hotel happy. Your job is done. Right? Wrong! You are now in a relationship! These are living things that require care and feeding if you want to get the best out of them. So let’s review some relationship building activities for the post-stay phase.
- Keep a blog and promote blog content.
Not only is a blog a valuable SEO tool for getting found by hotel searchers, it adds humanity to your property and staff and brings out nuances of the hotel experience that may not be revealed in the general website. What makes it a relationship builder is that you can promote your postings to former guests and encourage them to respond to the posts.
- Be on top of the review sites.
Only five years ago, this was something that many hoteliers were reluctant to be concerned about. Now we know that is foolhardy. Your management response to guest reviews – whether positive or negative – are an important part of the content set that new customers will review before making a booking decision. More importantly, a quick response to that guest you are building a relationship is another reason for them to love you.
- Send small notes of thanks.
Show gratitude with a follow-up note. If you have 1000 rooms, yes, this may be impossible to do in a personalized way. But you certainly should make an effort for the VIPs. Regardless, you can ask your guests to share a story about their trip, whether it be about the hotel or another experience. Then, reuse these stories on your blog or website. People want to know more than the hotel details when deciding on a hotel – they want to know what it is like to stay there.
- Help customers celebrate.
Birthdays and anniversaries. You PMS should be able to support this data and you should be pushing appropriate promotions to your guests for those occasions. They will feel like you remember them personally.
Yes, relationships take work. But that work is really just about communication and giving guests what they want. The question is: Do you have the technology tools to make this happen? Our recommendations: a mobile PMS with request routing, mobile check-in, a lobby kiosk with check-in and out capabilities, a blog and a staff willing to bring personalization to their service standards.