How Do You Sell an Experience and not Simply a Room?
The range of types of hotels has never been as diverse at it is today.
New concepts and brands are thriving and are thereby responding to a steadily increasing number of travellers. It’s this variety that makes everything more complicated for the customers as well as the hoteliers.
On the one hand, customers are asking themselves which type of accomodation they should choose. On the other hand, hoteliers are trying to position themselves in a way that enables them to offer their guests a unique experience. This unique customer experience is at the core of the problem.
How do you manage to differentiate yourself from other hotels and create an exceptional experience for your guests? Because at the end of the day, that is what attracts more guests and creates customer loyalty.
The times where you would simply sell a room are over. Today you have to define exactly what makes your hotel unique in order to stand out from the crowd.
The Customer Experience Starts Before Making the Reservation
The experience of a customer starts at the point when he starts searching for the next holiday. It’s your task to get them to notice your hotel before all others. And there are many ways to do so!
The content you offer online is your company’s business card, and customers will use it to get an idea of what you have to offer.
Millennials represent around 70% of all hotel guests today, making them by far the most significant customer segment. To get their attention, you have to focus on the customer experience and develop a relevant online content strategy.
72% of guests view their experience as more important than the material aspects of the hotel.
In addition, it is estimated that 86% of millennials were inspired by content that was posted on social media prior to booking a holiday.
As a hotelier, you should use social media to share photos and videos with future, current and past guests. Differentiate yourself as much as possible from other hotels, don’t just post pictures of your rooms or your pool.
Assuming you organize events in your hotel, such as theme parties in your restaurant, pool parties or concerts at the bar, then these are perfect opportunities to create photo and video content to show that you’re not just selling rooms, but offering your guests an experience!
Interact with your guests as much as possible because they are the ones who will share your content with other potential customers.
As soon as you’ve caught the interest of a customer, you have to accompany him during each phase of his stay. The customer should feel at home before he even gets to your hotel. A simple booking confirmation via email is not enough anymore.
Before your guest arrives, share tips and recommendations with him, such as expert knowledge about the city or region.
The hotel chain W Hotels are masters in the area of customer experience. W Insiders are local tourist guides who show guests the region, including restaurants, fashion, food, etc.
With this approach, W Hotels are offering their guests a complete experience. This service covers much more than a simple overnight stay. As the hotel, it is your job to create a tailor-made customer experience and not simply function as a hotelier. Your motto should be “What is new? What is next?” so your guests feel that a stay in your hotel is something truly special.
To sum up, it’s important to introduce your hotel to potential customers through content on social media. In addition, you should form a personal connection with your future guests before they even arrive at your hotel. For instance with a personalized email.
Personalization of a Unique Customer Experience
However, the work doesn’t end when your customer arrives at the reception.
So what can you do to turn your guest’s stay into an unforgettable experience? And how do you ensure customer loyalty and a 5-star rating on portals like Google and TripAdvisor?
Personalization and identification with certain values form the foundation that makes a stay at your hotel an amazing customer experience.
Over the last few years, a number of hotels have followed this concept. Radisson Red, Moxy, Aloft, CitizenM or Mama Shelter are concrete examples for this new type of hotel. Don’t think that unique customer experiences are reserved for large chains. Every day, independent companies show that they can be original too. But what does an unique customer experience look like in 2018?
Ideally, you accompany your customer from the moment he makes his reservation. Then you have to develop this relationship further. For instance, you can use the check-in to introduce your guest to your various online portals (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram…). The check-in is the first “physical” experience for your guest. You should try to make it as pleasant as possible by collecting a lot of information about him during the communication prior to his arrival. You can then use this information to customize his stay and create the perfect experience.
Don’t hesitate to contact your customer during his stay to find out if everything is going well. This can help you anticipate a problem and fix it before it even occurs.
Besides social media, there are many new technologies you can use to make the customer experience even more special. Among these innovations, instant messaging applications are especially useful because they enable you to stay in touch with your customers. Use these tools to make their stay as smooth as possible and to create more revenue on top.
Besides the digital services, there are obviously many other ways to distinguish yourself from the competition and to personalize the customer experience. You can use the products you offer in your business to create an authentic local experience for your guests. Think for instance about beauty products that are placed in the room, or about a local kind of marmalade you serve for breakfast. Obviously, you can also sell products with the logo of your hotel.
In addition, there are other clever ideas for how to stand out from the crowd and offer your guests a customized service. It all depends on the image you want to communicate to the customer, but also on the customer segment you are targeting. Based on those things, you can then create a personalized service with your offering.
A good example for this is a partnership with another brand. The hotel chain Westin has used this approach and has entered a partnership with New Balance. Westin Hotels now offers its guests the opportunity to rent sneakers provided by New Balance to discover the city via a “fitness” route.
As you can see, you have many options for making your hotel a place that doesn’t just offer rooms. And what about your restaurant? Don’t hesitate to be creative when it comes to making your restaurant stand out. Theme evenings are usually a good way to fill your restaurant with guests from your hotel and from outside.
The integration of technological innovations and other customized services is essential for distinguishing yourself from competitors, enhancing the personalization of the customer experience and for ensuring an optimal reputation online. You have to be able to constantly surprise the guest in a positive way. The measures you take will result in exceptional customer satisfaction and possibly also in customer loyalty. Now let’s take a look at how you can improve the customer experience after the guest’s stay has ended.
Continue the Customer Experience after the Stay
Congratulations! You managed to convince a customer of your hotel. It was an unforgettable experience for your guest.
He is sharing photos of his stay on Facebook and Instagram, telling his friends about how great it was and how he especially enjoyed the small jazz concert that a local band gave in your bar.
This type of customer presents an excellent opportunity for receiving a positive and extensive review. You have a kind of ambassador that is completely satisfied with his customer experience. For this reason, you should try to encourage him to leave a review on one of the popular review portals (Google, TripAdvisor, Booking.com etc.).
Reviews mirror the customer’s experience. When a customer gives his opinion, he has the opportunity to describe different phases of his stay in detail and to possibly emphasize how special it was.
By encouraging your guest to share his experiences, you don’t just profit from a positive review on a website. You also develop the personal relationship with him.
Now that you’ve supported your guest during every phase, you know more about his needs and expectations.
You know how to make a future stay more personal. That’s how you create repeat guests that will return to your hotel without a doubt.
Providing support for your guest after his stay is therefore clearly part of the customer experience you’re selling.
Sending out a personalized email shows how important it is for you to stay close to the customer. In addition, the advantages you receive this way will far outweigh the initial investments.
The Customer Alliance solution helps hoteliers with inviting their guests and ensuring optimal communication during and after the stay. It fosters higher customer satisfaction and enables you to identify specific problems through feedback. You can use review portals or customizable questionnaires to build a good reputation online. The feedback from your customers will enable you to optimize your business.
Would you like to find out more about optimizing the customer experience? Customer Alliance will support you in managing your online reputation and will help you communicate with your customers during each phase of their stay. Request a free presentation from one of our experts today!