MOST HOTELIERS SEEM to understand the importance of maximizing their use of technology to improve guests’ experience, but at the same time they are still struggling to do so, according to a study from hotel software companies StayNTouch, Travel Tripper, and TrustYou. Questions in the survey of U.S. and Canadian 300 hoteliers covered topics including online and mobile check-in options, upsell opportunities and guest communication, and found that many of them admitted there was a need to improve their use of the technology.
The survey found that 41 percent of respondents do not offer a choice of check-in methods, and 33 percent said they offer a choice but need to do better. Another 70 percent never or only sometimes convert upsells or upgrades at check-in, and 68 percent think they need to improve their use of mobile technology to improve the guest experience.
“By and large, hoteliers understand the importance of offering a unique guest experience, but understanding and evaluating the current state of the guest journey is critical for hoteliers to begin making the necessary strides in their guest engagement strategy,” said the report’s co-author StayNTouch Director of Marketing Frewoini Golla.
The report details the ways technology can be used to improve revenue flow for hotels. For example, it suggests that hotels should start promoting upgrades and upselling starting at the booking process.
“Hotels should be promoting room upgrades and upsells within their booking engine to encourage guests to select them prior to their stay,” the report says. “Then, at check-in, the front desk can either enhance the upsell or add an extra touch to their stay as a thank you gesture.”
Hotels should use a pre-stay survey to determine the guests’ expectations so upsells can be personalized. “When guests receive offers that fit their needs and expectations, they are more likely to have a positive response towards them.”
With 91 percent of guests saying they are willing to communicate issues during their stay, the report suggests hotels should use centralized data from reservations, guest history, on-property activities and preferences to anticipate future needs. “Guest preference questionnaires integrated into the booking process can also help anticipate guest needs.”
It’s also important that 74.67 percent of the survey’s respondents say they respond to and resolve standard guest requests quickly or very quickly. “This is a promising trend, as guest loyalty can be better established by reliable, personalized service, fast problem solving and enthusiastic communication from hotel staff, from the very first visit.”
The study suggests using mobile technology to give hotel staff the capability to access guest information anywhere on the property to expedite and personalize their response to guest needs.
“By using a direct messaging tool, hotel representatives have a quick and effective method of receiving, responding to and resolving issues on the spot,” the report says. Using mobile technology also appeals to younger travelers’ desire for immediacy and efficiency.
“It was especially interesting for us to see the difference in how hotels and travelers assess the guest experience,” said another co-author, TrustYou Vice President of Sales and Marketing Valerie Castillo. “We have made significant strides over the last few years, but the hospitality industry is still a ways away from perfectly mirroring guest’s needs.”
Other findings of the survey include:
66.30 percent of respondents said it is easy or very easy for guests to book and contact their property through their mobile website.
68.46 percent said they need to establish or improve their use or adoption of mobile technology.
48 percent said they are not maximizing the use of data to personalize guests’ stays and 20 percent find it challenging to collect and use that data.