Expert’s Voice: Ten ways to boost guest confidence and increase loyalty amid Covid19
Integrating new standards, rethinking the guest experience and embracing digital tools will help hotels convince travellers that they are safe to visit despite the pandemic, according to Melody Wendt Vazquez, product marketing manager at Amadeus.
Here are ten recommended strategies to boost guest confidence, increase satisfaction levels and build the loyalists of tomorrow.
1. Understand new guest expectations
Moving forward, concerns from Covid19 will likely affect every touchpoint across the traveller journey and will be top of mind throughout the guest’s hotel stay. The new ‘Generation Clean’ guests have elevated expectations when it comes to cleanliness, and major hotel chains have responded to these concerns with public campaigns like Marriott’s Commitment to Clean and Hilton’s CleanStay.
Hotels will need to demonstrate, even more than in the past, that they provide clean and healthy environments and are following specific disinfecting protocols if they want to begin earning back guest confidence.
2. Enhance building and asset integrity
In continuing to cultivate the potential for success, hoteliers must understand the importance of protecting their property’s surroundings.
Address immediate safety-related concerns while performing proactive maintenance to protect assets and meet any new industry requirements. Schedule regular reminders for filters and ventilation systems to ensure optimal air quality. Plan for health checks on equipment and meter readings, while reconfirming maintenance and housekeeping checklists meet the evolving standards of today.
From public areas and outlets to guestrooms and back of house, reviewing standard operating procedures around the hotel’s entire organisation can help to reduce costs and mitigate risk.
3. Implement a structured programme
As this new reality unfolds, the ability to develop and implement proven strategies to meet these new cleanliness standards will be critical to your hotel’s future success. Establishing clear step-by-step standard operating procedures and cleaning protocols will be crucial to enhancing cleaning regimens and ensuring nothing is missed.
Create a distinct checklist, ideally using digital service optimisation tools, for each area of the property, make sure all team members are adequately trained, and carefully record each step that is performed. If your brand or management company does not provide a structured programme, leverage one from a trusted industry organization like AHLA’s Safe Stay programme or apply Amadeus’ disinfecting housekeeping checklist, endorsed by the International Executive Housekeeping Association.
4. Communicate cleanliness
As the industry moves through each phase of recovery, guests will want to travel where they know that their basic intrinsic needs will be met before even stepping foot on the property. Support health and cleanliness standards in all marketing and guest communications pre-stay, on-property, and post-stay. This acknowledgement will foster mutual value to protect and enhance the best interests of both the hotel and guests.
Once on property, ensure team members are seen cleaning and wiping down door handles, countertops, floors and surfaces in high-traffic areas from the moment the guest enters the building. Promoting healthy hygiene practices and enhanced proactive maintenance measures will not only put your guests at ease but will likely become the most influential factor in the hotel booking cycle for the foreseeable future.
5. Highlight unique experiences
In earlier generations, the ownership of items defined status. More and more travellers, however, have shifted to an experiential economy, where memorable experiences rather than material goods mark milestones. 73% of global travellers agree, “When I go on vacation, the most important thing is to have a unique experience,” while 59% of global travellers say they like hotels that feel unique.
Consider creating packages that emphasise outdoor or nearby unique experiences. Enhance flexibility and rewards with loyalty programmes. Offer little extras such as access to amenities, food and beverage incentives, or upgrades to in-room essentials.
6. Reassess traditional greetings
A warm smile and friendly interaction with the front-of-house team as guests check in set the expectation for what’s to come. Some of those traditional greetings may have to change, but the heart of hospitality will certainly always remain the same.
When greeting a guest, have different alternatives in mind that are in line with new physical-distancing criteria. Non-verbal communication cues such as tone of voice, eye contact, posture and a gentle nod of the head, hand over heart, are a few ways that we can communicate with one another to reinforce a welcoming message mindfully. Simply being courteous and well-mannered can go a long way.
7. Practise contactless guest engagement
As we enter a new era of hospitality, some aspects of the guest experience will have to be reimagined. Any opportunity to reduce direct contact between staff and guests will be duly appreciated, while never missing a chance to engage with guests. From temperature checks upon entering to mobile check-in and digital keys, an increase in technology can help to maximise efficiency and ensure safety.
Guest-facing technology like in-room voice-activated assistants and mobile-messaging channels can help to respond to requests in real time, while staff-facing tools can help to increase customer satisfaction by responding to requests and escalating service issues immediately. Hotels that can use the staff’s skills and technology in harmony will undoubtedly have a competitive edge in the new world of travel.
8. Ensure guestrooms are a safe sanctuary for relaxation
As restrictions ease around the world, consumers are likely to be highly selective about their travel, and even short weekend getaways will be taken with a mix of excitement and fear. Ease travel-related anxieties by showing visible and sensory cues that the room is a clean, safe space for relaxation.
Display sanitation-related certifications or protection seals and feature prominent signage highlighting any associated materials or technologies (antimicrobial surfaces, air/water filtration, etc). Consider adding mini hand sanitiser, masks and disinfectant wipes to personal care amenity kits. Replace in-room glassware with water bottles. Use single-use bathroom soaps instead of dispensers.
Ensuring guestrooms are a safe sanctuary for relaxation will be valued now more than ever, enhancing overall guest satisfaction.
9. Emphasise wellness-focused amenities
As travellers ponder what is needed to keep themselves healthy, infusing wellbeing into the hotel’s amenity programme will help to support the widespread change in personal behaviour. And with today’s technology, wellness-focused amenities can be easily personalised and delivered according to the guest’s preferences.
As an example, individual yoga mats in guest rooms can be combined with access to a complimentary on-demand yoga TV channel, while designated workout areas can be complemented with pre-sanitised resistance bands upon request. Mindful breathing – shown to regulate sleep and lower blood pressure and cortisol levels – can be promoted via meditation app integrations, as immune-boosting minibar products could both surprise and put guests at ease.
10. Leverage technology to maximise efficiency
Hotels face an enormous responsibility to address heightened guest expectations due to Covid19 as demand returns, placing increased pressure on properties to respond despite limited staff and budget.
The Amadeus Service Optimization suite of solutions that include HotSOS, HotSOS Housekeeping, and the new HotSOS Select – tailored for select-service properties – can help to maximise a hotel team’s capabilities while ensuring the highest standards are met. Whether it’s wiping down frequently used areas like elevator buttons, delivering guest requests like soap or chargers, or ensuring air-conditioning and other equipment is maintained correctly, a service optimisation solution can assist in making sure all necessary tasks are completed with maximum efficiency.
This is an edited version of an article that appeared on Hotel Online.
Melody Wendt Vazquez
Product marketing manager at Amadeus
Melody is responsible for the development of global product marketing strategies at Amadeus. She focuses on strategic materials that provide hospitality solutions. She develops competitive campaigns through market research in order to increase market share, profitability and growth to clients.