How independent hotels can digitalise their guest experience
Technological innovations in the hotel industry have decisively evolved towards improving guest experiences and operational optimisation. Adapting to these changes has proved challenging, often accentuated by the hotel industry’s somewhat traditional image. But hotel owners have become far more comfortable with such subjects. For example, it was fairly common for independent hotels to believe that only big establishments linked to chains could make the leap into digital business. Whereas today, due to the increasing number of actors in the digital sphere and new consumer habits, digitalisation has become one of the keys to success. Let’s explore how an establishment may enhance the guest experience with the help of this toolbox which will allow you to gain a better understanding of the guest journey.
The importance of visibility
This is where it all starts! You need to make yourself as visible as possible to attract potential guests. Not just individuals but seeking to expose your business to different groups, since your clientele will vary with the seasons. Within the hotel business especially, visibility also involves reaching guests on an international scale. To achieve this, it’s vital to be aware of the various channels that are available to promote your hotel. Three of these are especially relevant for hotel businesses: social media, review portals, and online travel agencies (OTAs).
We can’t stress it enough: guest reviews are unquestionably your best weapon when it comes to attracting potential guests. Yesterday’s guests are tomorrow’s ambassadors. There are a huge number of review portals and they need to be used strategically, depending on the type of guest you wish to attract. Review platforms are constantly changing too, due to changes in travellers’ consumption habits. The most prominent example of this is how Google has overtaken TripAdvisor as the champion of guest reviews.
To avoid straying too far from your priorities, we’ll only mention the two most relevant social media sites: Facebook and Instagram. Both offer some effective communication opportunities:
- links to your site or booking engine,
- guest reviews and management of a community of followers
are a few examples that you can work on easily. Since these two platforms are heavily used by travellers and have billions of daily users, they can help you to make a real impact on the guest experience.
The ultimate aim of having visibility is, of course, to fill your hotel rooms. This doesn’t happen through social media and review portals alone; you also need to implement a good distribution strategy. Although the ideal situation is to receive direct bookings, OTAs are big business facilitators. To stay competitive, adding attractive photos and a detailed description of the services you provide to these agencies is crucial. Take a look at our map of OTAs to gain a better understanding of all the opportunities that are available.
It’s vital that you standardise your online presence across all of these portals in order to attract guests, but it’s also essential to have your own tools to build a loyal guest base. Let’s now take a look at some different tools which help you to move towards this goal, while also making the guest experience more pleasant. And, of course, this isn’t reserved exclusively to big chains who have been using new technologies for a while already.
Take control of your visual identity and guest relations
Although it’s important to have guest reviews on TripAdvisor and to be represented well on OTAs, it’s also essential to have your own website. As well as giving complete flexibility with the content you post (like photos, descriptions, promotions, …), it makes it possible for internet users to make a direct booking on your website. This lets you avoid third parties and the disadvantages that come with them (overbooking, commission, vague cancellation conditions…). A number of website managers, such as Eliophot, Diadao, Otelico and Klixi, have decided to specialise in the hotel industry and offer solutions to help independent hotels to take control of their visual identity. It’s also useful for establishments to be aware of the traffic generated by their website and the different information that can be drawn from this, such as the conversion rate.
Although a website is obviously a solid foundation on which to grow your online presence, you need to implement other solutions alongside it to improve the guest experience on your website. One of these may be a chat service. This helps you to start a dialogue with potential guests and answer any questions they may have, increasing their trust in your hotel. Hotel Direct Booster falls into this category of conversational platform which aim to increase the chances of converting visitors to your website.
The last and perhaps most important element involved in securing a direct booking is a booking engine. They allow you to advertise your rooms and prices alongside providing an effective way of collecting the details of users who make a booking. They are easy for both the user and the hotel owner to use, and the latter can manage their availability. Tools like Stardekk and its booking engine Cubilis offer innovative solutions which are simple to use. You can link them to a PMS or a Channel Manager without difficulty to optimise the management of your guest data and rooms.
Good communication: the key to a better guest experience
Being equipped with these solutions makes managing your guest relations a more fluid process, but it doesn’t end there. On the contrary: once you secure a booking, you need to focus on the guest experience. Of course, this is linked to your hotel and the services you offer, but it’s not only about having a swimming pool or restaurant; it’s also about how you promote them. You might do this by anticipating the needs of a guest who is away on business, by sending them details of the different transport options to get to your hotel from the airport. Or perhaps providing a pre-check-out service to help them to save time. It could also take the form of a brief post-check-in satisfaction survey which seeks to make sure that the guest has everything they need in their room. As every guest is different, there are many different examples that might apply for your hotel.
Increasing your interaction with guests by digitising the communication process enables you to promote your services in an effective manner, but also to increase your amount of constructive feedback which can help you to boost satisfaction. Our new Guest Experience Hub helps hotels to digitise the experience, and also guarantees more effective management of your online reputation. From the pre-stay email to the invitation to leave a review after the stay, the guests are encouraged to interact with the hotel. These interactions being either requests linked to the services offered or to recommendations, both with a high potential to improve the overall experience.
The digitalisation of the guest experience is a very real phenomenon and is not reserved exclusively to large chains. Thanks to the innovative spirit that exists in hoteltech industry, it’s easy to add a touch of creativity to your guest relations while keeping management simple and effective. It’s important to choose the tool that’s appropriate for your needs and priorities. These forms of technology are also intended to make your life easier and to save you time, which you can then invest in your guests and staff. Marketplaces like Hotelhero give a clear overview of the vast range of tools available on the market to help you make the right choice for you.
The other key point to understand lies in how these solutions link together. Indeed, the primary reason for acquiring a new technology is to help you to streamline your actions and processes. At Customer Alliance, we’re interfaced with over 90 PMS to help you to optimise the digitalisation of your guest experience.
Want to start digitising your guest experience and find out more about what we offer? Ask for a free demonstration with one of our experts today!.