Implementing the right technology platform capabilities, including a next-generation Property Management System and service optimization solution, are prerequisites for achieving a high level of performance with Guest Experience Management (GEM).
Yet technology by itself will invariably fail to deliver optimal outcomes. Data integration is critical. So, too, is analytic modeling, to map the guest journey, create actionable segmentation schemes, identify the drivers of guest satisfaction and, ultimately, present guests with more personalized and relevant offers and treatments.
Also important is having the right organization resources (some hotels are now hiring directors of guest experience management to lead the charge), adopting the right guest-centric strategies and processes (e.g., cross departmental mobile task management), and instilling a culture of guest centricity throughout the organization.
The following are five recommendations:
1. Capture and analyze feedback to enhance the guest experience
Hoteliers should proactively capture, analyze and act upon guest feedback. The sources of feedback should not be limited to guest satisfaction surveys and travel review websites but also include input from hotel staff. The value of the feedback lies largely in the ability to make sense of the raw data, translating it into specific actions the hotel can take to drive GEM improvement.
From an organizational perspective, the feedback should facilitate a culture of guest centricity and continual improvement in delivering superior guest experiences based on an understanding of the unmet wants and needs of different segments.
2. Track and measure performance
Multiple tools and measurement indices, the most widely used of which is Net Promoter Score®, can be employed to gauge the current state of guest satisfaction and track progress over time. These indices provide a good read by soliciting feedback from guests about different aspects of their stay experiences. The best approach may be to combine multiple types of metrics.
Some top-performing hotels have instituted comprehensive scorecards that now track ten or more different metrics beyond Net Promoter Score®, including guest request and problem resolution rates and brand advocacy and sentiment on travel review sites.
To measure progress, hotels need to create baselines and standards. How long, for example, should it take to respond to a guest request? Standards help ensure a consistent level of service across the property and are the basis for tracking improvement.
3. Tie staff incentives to guest satisfaction
To instill an organizational focus on enhancing the guest experience, a hotel should put financial rewards in place. Such rewards might include bonuses based on, for example, the percentage increase of Net Promoter Score®. For every manager who affects guest survey results, a portion of their annual incentive might be tied directly to this metric.
By aligning employee incentives with corporate goals and guest needs, a hotel’s workforce will become increasingly guest-centric in its overall behavior. Also, think in terms of building staff morale, by empowering employees not only with incentives but better tools to do their jobs.
4. Focus on guest segments that stand to benefit most.
A GEM business initiative is likely to benefit some segments more than others. Resources should be allocated accordingly.
A business traveler staying only one night probably has no interest in interacting with the front desk. Staying for a week with dinner plans and time to explore, the same guest may be more inclined to make use of hotel facilities. A family traveling on vacation is an entirely different story in terms of their likely level of interaction with hotel staff and the amount of time and money they may spend across the property.
5. Treat each quest like a celebrity
With GEM, the goal should be to treat each guest as a celebrity. But keep in mind: there’s a fine line between familiarity and harassment. Hotel staff don’t want to be perceived as stalkers. Rather, all parts of the hotel should act as an extension of the subtle, helpful concierge in the lobby.
Like celebrities, guests are often leery of strangers calling them by name or behaving in a way that would suggest that they know too much about them. What they really want is to be afforded a measure of anonymity, a pretense of formality, even, while still receiving benefits that are relevant to them. VIP guests may like nothing more than to be treated with quiet regard, to be granted special status upgrades and access to exclusive amenities.
Hoteliers should treat their guests like celebrities in the best sense of the word. Rather than fawning service and exaggerated familiarity, they should engender relationships that make guests feel comfortable —and like movie stars.
This 2017 Smart Decision Guide to Hotel Guest Experience Management (click to access) offers hoteliers a framework for thinking about GEM and assessing their capabilities in this area. For those looking to improve performance, it provides insights for selecting the right technology solutions in the context of their hotel or resort’s specific needs. It also offers practical advice for putting the right organizational resources, business processes and performance metrics in place to maximize success and drive continuous performance improvement.
Starfleet Research recently released several other Smart Decision Guide titles focused on hospitality industry topics. These include The 2017 Smart Decision Guide to Hospitality Revenue Management (click to access), The 2016 Smart Decision Guide to Hotel Property Management Systems (click to access) and The 2016 Smart Decision Guide to Restaurant Management and POS Systems.