Guest experience: how to combine technology and human touch
Over the past few years, the hotel industry has been experiencing a digital revolution. Some see this as an opportunity to increase their appeal, but others take a more sceptical view and instead fight to maintain a more traditional system where human relations take priority. So, how can you combine the two in order to meet your guests’ needs and offer them a personalised experience?
What does the guest experience look like today?
The guest experience mirrors consumption habits; that is to say, it is increasingly impacted by digitisation and all of the tools and innovations it encompasses. From having a tablet in the hotel room to using a conversational platform, there are various opportunities available for hotels seeking to attract a more “connected” clientele. Hotels are prepared to invest large sums here, because they are all aware that a successful guest experience will have positive consequences for their reputation and for guest loyalty.
Hospitality Technology’s 2018 Customer Engagement Technology Study shows primarily that 41% of guests would like to have their room key available on their phone, while 35% of hotels are able to provide this service. This gap is certainly narrowing, but lots of hotels are still hesitant to take the first step towards this.
Guests want to have several options when it comes to personalising their experience, but this doesn’t mean that they want to stay shut in their room and avoid all human contact. On the contrary: guests also want to experience the human relationship that lies behind the product or technology. Indeed, a study conducted by Voxpro found that 68% of guests say that they have not yet communicated with a brand via a chatbot.
So, then, what do guests want? Do we simply have two groups: millennials in search of the ultimate digital experience, and others who are more sensitive to the human touch? Let’s now examine the subject of the guest experience and technology.
The guest experience and technology
From this point, it’s important to understand how technology can have a positive impact on the guest experience and how it can make hotel owners’ lives easier.
In a world where communication is becoming increasingly digitised, the hotel industry is no exception. Indeed, thanks to intelligent interaction at every stage of the guest journey, technology can enhance the guest experience significantly:
- Prior to arrival with an email containing information about the hotel, the possibility of pre-check-in or add-on products or services.
- During the stay via a WiFi- or QR code-enabled questionnaire which gives you the chance to assess the guest’s satisfaction level and anticipate any potential problems.
- After the stay, by inviting the guest to write a review and then by continuing the conversation over a longer period to enhance loyalty.
Technology can therefore optimise the guest experience in these precise cases. However, it can also make general operations easier for hotel owners.
Improved operations management
For hotel owners, being able to offer a better guest experience is made possible by streamlining operations. As a result, digitisation needs to help you to proceed in ways that are simpler and quicker. IBEs, PMS and other forms of channel manager are vital tools to allow your employees to work more efficiently.
The feedback you collect also offers a precise indication of your guests’ satisfaction level. However, even if you have enthusiastic and passionate staff, it can still sometimes be difficult to judge how your guests are feeling at every moment. Thus, by using technology to automate feedback collection at all times, you can constantly get a precise idea of the experience being had by your guests. If this weren’t possible, it would take far longer to manage requests, complaints and other demands. Just imagine: you’d have to ask all of the employees in order to find out if they have been in touch with the guests and made a note of any problems to be resolved. The information would then have to be transferred to the relevant department and followed up to ensure that the appropriate measures were taken.
We’re not saying that a hotel’s employees are unable to respond to guests’ demands. We’re saying that, by finding a balance between using technology to collect feedback and showing a human touch in the management of requests, you will be sure to offer an outstanding guest experience.
Finding a balance between technology and human touch
We could sum this final section up as what guests want. Although, as we’ve seen, new technology forms an integral part of the guest experience, human relations are still at the very heart of the hotel industry. A study conducted by Accenture shows that 77% of guests want to have human interaction when they’re looking for advice and tips.
How to find the right combination
The key is to equip yourself with tools which, on the one hand, facilitate your teams’ work and, on the other, make the guest experience more pleasant. Here are some examples we might come across in a hotel:
- Giving out and gathering information by email prior to the stay, which will allow the receptionist to better prepare for the guest’s arrival and whole stay.
- Sending a pre-check-in form to make the experience at reception more pleasant, with emphasis on guest relations and not simply administrative formalities.
- Gathering information that is relevant to the guest to allow the staff to add an authentic, personal touch.
- Sending a pre-check-out form to allow guests in a hurry to save time and to reduce the amount of avoidable and repetitive tasks that the reception staff might have to do.
- Centralising guest reviews from different portals to save time and allow yourself the time to respond to them (in a human, personalised manner).
These examples, which demonstrate how technology and a human touch can complement each other well, are the result of a successful guest experience. You need to implement a strategy that’s appropriate to your establishment with regard to use of technology and make sure that your staff focus on what they do best: adding authenticity to the guest experience. The receptionists and restaurant staff aren’t salespeople, but ambassadors for your hotel. The guest experience and technology need to remain intrinsically linked, all while keeping in mind the traditional aspect of the service. Technology should allow you to meet guests’ expectations so that you can create personalised experiences where the guest doesn’t need to make a constant effort to find a solution to their request or need.
The Customer Alliance solution helps hotel chains and independent hotels to achieve this by enhancing the guest experience in a digitised, automated manner so that you can then focus on guest relations, which lie at the heart of your job. Request a demonstration to find out more about the different ways to improve the guest experience, satisfaction and operations.