Competition among hospitality providers continues to grow as social media delivers a perceived view of lodging and restaurants. A report from IBM Global Business Services concludes that the hotel industry can survive only with a personalized hotel guest experience. The concept is taking longer to become a standard for guest services than expected. Why not review the effectiveness of your hotel management system (HMS)? The following ideas are designed to improve results and enhance the way guests regard your hotel.
Develop meaningful, efficient plans. Work out an overall plan to personalize services without breaking the bank. Information technology moves ahead rapidly day after day. Hospitality technology is keeping pace with the changes, giving the sector a variety of update options at an affordable price. Examples to consider include:
- Property Management Systems (PMS).
- Web booking engines to manage room inventory.
- Channel Managers for efficient management of online distribution channels used to sell rooms.
- Systems receiving and analyzing guest feedback.
Instead of working with separate systems, consider one that integrates the above tasks (and more) for seamless management and fewer processes to learn. It will likely save time and money.
Think hospitality 24/7. Hospitality is a learned trait. Make sure every member of your team reflects and delivers it to all guests. It’s especially important that the hotel management system has an efficient Over the Air (OTA) program that easily and correctly records cancellations and changes. The no-charge amendments are made online by guests through their vendors. Display hospitality to guests and vendors with a compatible system that tracks and updates changes, syncing data across systems. Avoid putting your business in a bad light because a reservation change made in good faith fails isn’t recognized due to an inefficient PMS.
Make changes that improve the guest experience. Entice guests to choose your hotel from the dozens of others competing for their business. Part of the solution requires a friendly smile and greeting. Another way to free up time to address guests is providing staff with an easy to use, accurate check-in system. Keep the building in good repair. Paint the inside walls and change the carpet before it looks tattered and torn. Send pictures to previous guests so they can see the changes.
Identify guest wants and expectations. Evaluate how reasonable the request is and if the hotel can provide that service. Like most people, guests enjoy a positive response to a concern. It may even encourage them to return for their next visit. Repeat customers are important, so welcome them by name. A hotel customer relationship management (CRM) system identifies upcoming arrivals and their preferred room, favorite menu item (if you have a restaurant within your hotel), and other types of services used on previous visits. Use the data to send a special offer for a birthday or other occasion. If there’s no response, follow up with a phone call to be sure the offer was received. Update the address when needed. Other hotels may be chasing your customers right now. Upgrade your system to stay competitive. An integrated system keeps expenses down and quality up because you are dealing with one vendor. IT support and staff training may be included in the package.
Set the example for staff while reaffirming the guest’s value. Take responsibility to check the equipment in the room and that it is working properly. Is the Wi-Fi sufficient instead of dropping? What requests were noted from the previous trip, such as a higher setting for climate control or a certain taxi company when needed.
As a manager:
- Listen to what the guest wants
- Repeat your understanding of the request to be sure it’s handled correctly.
- Make it happen.
The result will help the customer feel at home.
Make the goodbye as memorable as the welcome. Invite the guest back. Update the CRM with notes regarding food favorites and preparation expectations. Learn where they like to visit. You can send an update to them if there’s a special event nearby that will result in their return to your facility. Tailor offers based on guest experiences, such as a discounted holiday stay or invitation to experience new developments within the hotel.