Striping away from any non-essential features, what do customers perceive as must haves when looking for a hotel experience? In the search for an improved customer experience, over 97% of customers today check reviews and other media sources prior to engaging with a local business . To increase overall brand goodwill and, therefore, total influx of customers, businesses should focus first on improving their service on categories that are perceived to be key to its clientele. But what are the basic criteria that customer judge to be essential in the hospitality industry? These are the main points guests focus on when searching for a place to spend their night, and, therefore, the basic factors that hoteling businesses should focus on improving.
A good location can enhance guest’s overall experience as they have access to local culture, restaurants, and entertainment. Certainly, location depends on the type of experience your target audience expects from your business. For instance, an accommodation located in a beach town, the ideal location would be within minutes of the beach and close to restaurants. 59% of leisure travellers have reported that good hotel location is very important when deciding where to stay with 36% considering it somewhat important.
Other businesses, however, may target guests that prefer to disconnect from everything and everyone in secluded areas, making it difficult to be located close to restaurants. Accommodation of this nature would need to balance the lack of nearby infrastructure by having an in-house restaurant or equivalent to attend to guests needs. In some cases, the hotel may also be able to provide transportation options such as bike rental, taxi services, shuttle services, and etc. to such establishments that can accommodate the customers’ needs.
Let’s say the business is already placed in a convenient and accessible location, does that mean that the work is done? Definitely not! Part of leading a successful business means anticipating clients’ needs and desires. In terms of location for the hospitality industry, it means considering that guests usually come from different places and are less likely to know the area surrounding the business. Therefore, in most situations, the organization is better positioned to pave the path between client and his potential new favourite restaurant.
No guest likes to witness a cockroach pass by their feet while they shower. Neither, a guest should expect to have to wash their entire luggage because of a bedbug infestation. Hygiene should not be compromised because of it, neither should a guest fall sick because of poor cleaning standards or food handling. Staff should check the facility daily to make sure that things are tidy and properly clean.
An added benefit of maintaining an establishment fresh and hygienic is the potential for increased durability of costly fixed assets owned by the establishment. Regular maintenance of facilities will not only reflect on positive goodwill and enhanced customer experience, but ensure that assets will last longer reducing the impact on your bottom line.
In terms of safety, there are 4 subcategories that often worry the minds of many guests:
Guests will often refrain from choosing an establishment where they fear for their personal safety or of their assets. A case of safety can often cause undue stress not only for the clients, but for the business. Consequences may range from loss of business due to potential reputational damage, resources spent resolving and investigating the issue, and potential lawsuits depending on the case.
It goes without saying that sometimes, in terms of external safety, the business does not have much control over its surrounding areas. However, to remediate such situation, the establishment can play an important role in providing customers with knowledge about which areas are safe to navigate and which areas should be avoided. Further, customers should be reminded of common practices that can aid them on ensuring their safety.
In today’s technologically driven society, internet has become an integral part of one’s life. In some cases, guests will search for an establishment based on its ability to provide good quality and continuous internet connection, so they can continue conducting their affairs, from work related to personal matters. It is important to note that there are certain exceptions based on the local infrastructure. For example, if a country does not have high speed internet, it is simply unreasonable to expect that such service is provided. Further, as discussed previously, the type of audience may have some influence on the level of connection provided. For instance, a business that promotes a “disconnected” experience to guests can, in some cases, be excused from providing internet connection across its property.
In terms of connectivity, businesses should ensure good, quality and secure internet access to their guests within the reasonable infrastructural limits of the region. It is also important to manage clients’ expectations by informing them in case there is the possibility of experiencing connectivity issues and any other concerns that may impact the full enjoyment of this service.
A reliable method of communicating with the establishment is highly regarded amongst guests. Not all guests require to contact the establishment before or during their stay. However, when a guest does need such contact for whatever reason, the relationship can turn sour if they find it difficult to establish contact or the other end does not respond on a timely fashion. Therefore, it is highly recommended that the business provides an online channel for guests to contact them. When travelling outside their respective countries, guests are unlikely to have a local phone number, but they may be able to contact the establishment through Wi-Fi at a café. Establishments should aim to offer multiple channels of communications that range from e-mail address, telephone number to WhatsApp.
Regardless of the channel of communication, it is also vital that business owners and front-end employees are positive and proactive in their interaction with the customer. It is necessary to take customer’s positive criticism with an open mind and cool tone. For those interested to learn more, please refer to ‘The Golden Rules of Customer Interaction’. This is a sensitive area because so much effort is put into the business which generates pride. However, getting heated with a customer will certainly make matters even worse, possibly resulting on a bad review online which affects the business’ goodwill negatively. A negative or rude reply can affect the business’ reputation causing the impression of poor customer service and an un-accommodating business. Refer to ‘How to Deal with Online Reviews’ for insights in this area. Always try to be positive and resolve whatever matter is brought to you if it is under your power to do so. Never assume that a guest is directly attacking you or your business, that mindset will likely result in poor customer service and a headache. Cases of malicious customers should be taken to the authorities or resolved in a neutral tone, yet decisive manner.
Advertisement and positive feedback may well be the most important aspect of an establishment’s medium to long-term success. 93% of consumers say online reviews impacts their purchase habits. Since online reviews are often a customer’s first points of contactto the establishment, it is essential to get it right. Your brand reflects on the trust a client has for your establishment and the likelihood that such clients will trust their money into your services. Therefore, advertising your business in multiple channels and maintaining good relationships with clients is essential to reach a broad audience and reinforce trust. In sites where a business has an established profile, it is necessary to continuously manage the site and positively respond to client feedback in a personalized fashion, even if the review turns out to be negative. Fortunately, in today’s highly connected world, advertisement does not have to break the bank or be highly complex. Advertising on Google and other platforms is fairly easy with extensive material online covering step by step on how to place your advertisement.