Sorry - bad news. A room is no longer enough for your guests. They want more. Accommodation simply doesn’t cut it in a world where ‘experiences’ are becoming the norm.
But what is an experience, and how does it relate to our industry? Surely, the only experience you need to deliver guests is one of relaxation, comfort and waiter service?
Not any more.
The modern guest expects to be entertained, have access to tech comforts they’re used to at home and receive the occasional surprise.
In this post, we’re going to look at how accommodation providers can turn their service up to 11 by creating unique, unforgettable guest experiences.
The simple stuff counts
Hotel experiences don’t have to be tangible - they can be delivered in the most subtle of ways with just a few simple tactics. We’ve picked out three that’ll endear you to your guests:
- The pre-arrival phone call. What better way to surprise a guest than to give them a quick call a few days before they arrive? In a digital world with limited human contact, a ringing phone never fails to raise an eyebrow, and if you’re on the end of it thanking the guest for their booking and providing useful information for check-in time, they’ll remember the experience fondly.
- The surprise act of kindness. Imagine a regular guest entering her room to find a bottle of bubbly and a ‘thank you’ card lying on the bed. Or the Xbox you occasionally place in rooms in which you know kids are staying. Random acts of kindness in hotels go a long way and are great ways to encourage social media posts about how wonderful your establishment is.
- Free room upgrades. If someone checks in late and you’ve got a couple of premium rooms left unsold, always use the opportunity to issue an unexpected, free room upgrade. Savvy guests will know this trick and ask for the upgrade themselves, but those that don’t will revel in the wonderful experience of checking into your hotel and getting a better room for free. Sure - it is still 'just' a room, but it’s far better than the one they were expecting.
Working with local businesses
Depending on your hotel’s location, you may have a fantastic opportunity to strike up a deal or two with local businesses. Perhaps you’re near a golf course, theme park or historic attraction - whatever it may be, a chat with the bosses may result in a joint marketing campaign and consolidated offering for customers.
If you can combine a hotel stay with a discounted round of golf, free child passes to a theme park or cheaper entry to the local castle, you’ve got an awful lot more to say when advertising your rooms.
Talk to your neighbouring businesses - you’re all in this together, after all.
Using technology to create guest experiences
Technology is ubiquitous and increasingly affordable. With relatively minor investment, you can create guest experiences by taking advantage of the gadgets they love. Here’s a few ideas:
- In-room TV on demand. Netflix and other services offer a near bottomless pit of boxsets and films in which people can indulge and such services are more accessible than ever to hotels. Make sure you rooms offer them and make a big deal about it when describing your rates.
- Loaded-up in-room tablets. Tablets chock-full of games, movies and magazines will always be well-received. And, thankfully, there are a huge range of low-cost Android devices to choose from, lowering the barrier to entry for this particular guest experience.
- Video games. We noted this above, but it bears repeating - the presence of a games console in a hotel room remains relatively unique, so before they become ubiquitous, add as many as you can to yours. They don’t have to be the latest and greatest, either - in fact, go retro with something like a SNES and a copy of Mario Kart, and you’ll win over plenty of guests.
- Lighting and climate control. In-room technology and business management systems are getting smarter by the day and if you can turn your rooms into something Tony Stark would be proud of, you’ll create a futuristic experience guests will love. Speak to your suppliers - intelligent lighting, climate control and sensors that personalise rooms for guests are becoming more commonplace on the market.
Creating guest experiences isn’t always about making more money from your rooms (although you could arguably up the room rate for the tech options above). The most important aspect is gathering a loyal following - guests who come back for more and tell their friends just how considerate and inventive a hotel you are.
Have we missed something? If you’ve had success offering guest experiences and don’t mind sharing your secrets - let us know in the comments section below!