How Independent Hotels Can Digitize The Customer Experience
The Digital Customer Experience as Key to Success
Technological innovations are shaping the hotel industry since several years. They are aimed at improving digital customer experiences and optimising operational processes and workflows. Whether digital guest folders, smartphones as room key or check-in kiosks, the list of tech-gadgets is long.
Especially independent hotels believed that only large hotel chains could leverage such solutions. But offering a digital customer experience for guests is not a matter of huge investments. Instead, there are various opportunities across the guest journey enhance the experience of guests through digitisation.
The hotel market is saturated with hotels of all kinds. At the same time, customers expect hotels to meet their digital habits and expectations. Therefore, digitisation has become one of the keys to success. Let’s explore how independent hotels can enhance the guest experience with the help of digital tools.
Take Control of Your Online Visibility
This is where it all starts! You need to make yourself as visible as possible to attract potential guests. To achieve this, it’s vital to be aware of the various channels that are available to promote your hotel.
We can’t stress it enough: guest reviews are your best weapon when it comes to attracting potential guests. In fact, 81% of travellers always or frequently read reviews before booking a hotel room (1). Impressive, right? So make sure to be visible on leading review portals such as TripAdvisor or Google. There are various software solutions that help you to collect, centralise and manage all reviews. That allows you to stay in control of your online reputation.
And don´t forget to generate more reviews to climb up in these rankings. With a software, you can automatically invite guests to leave a review and distribute them to leading portals.
Our media consumption habits changed in the past years. Social media platforms like Instagram or Pinterest are heavily influencing our booking and purchasing decisions. Visual content is king! Travellers want a glimpse of what to expect and what they can experience. Especially in the pre-travel stage, guests use social media to plan their travels, to search for information and to compare hotels. Therefore, use social media to show what makes your hotel special and to engage with guests.
OTA – Online Travel Agencies
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, OTA are big business facilitators. To stay competitive, add attractive photos and a detailed description of your services.
That should be a no-brainer: it is essential to have your own website. It is your figurehead to the public. So make sure to feed it with up-to-date information, descriptions and attractive photos. A website should be super easy to navigate to enhance the customer experience of your guests. A number of website managers, such as Eliophot, Otelico and Klixi, offer solutions to help independent hotels to take control of their visual identity.
For an advanced customer service, you might want to consider implementing a chat service. This helps you to start a dialogue with potential guests and answer any questions they may have straight away.
Digital Communication to Enhance Customer Experience
Once you secure a booking, you need to start communicating pro-actively with your guests. Because the experience starts before they even arrive at the hotel.
Distribute personalised pre-stay messages to welcome your guest and to share useful information about your hotel. Inform them about opening hours or special offers. And offer them additional service to drive revenue, e.g. a room upgrade or a bottle of champagne upon arrival. Ask for preferences, allergies or special needs to personalise the stay as best as you can.
Would you like to know if your guests are enjoying their stay? Then follow up! A short survey helps you to gather immediate feedback and to take care of any problems. Issues such as a broken light bulb can be fixed immediately.
Ensure a smooth check-out by providing a pre-check-out service. Guests can submit relevant details such as check-out time or whether the need any shuttle service to the airport or train station. Once your guests left the hotel, make sure to invite them to share a review. This allows you gather meaningful feedback and to learn from your guest´expectations and wishes. And as mentioned previously, distribute these reviews leading portals to increase your visibility.
To sum up
Offering digital customer experiences 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. A solution like Customer Alliance helps independent hotels to digitalise customer experiences and to stay in control of their reputation. From pre-stay email to review invitations, guests are encouraged to interact with the hotel. By leveraging digital communication channel, you meet the expectations of the modern traveller.
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!
- Hotel Business: Study – Online Reviews Continue to Influence Travel Booking