The journey experience – is excellent stay enough to gain guests’ loyalty?
Want your guests to come back? Here’s how you can make it happen. Photo credit: Pexels
Hospitality trainer & consultant Raimonda Grigaite-Kjeldsen explains why guests that claim to enjoy their stay might never come back
How was your stay? – you personally ask the guests during the check out. “Oh, it was great – we truly enjoyed ourselves. It is an amazing place to be”, – guests reply and you are already hearing the winning fanfare in your head. How else when you know everything went well?
The guests have not reported any issues during the stay, they never complained about anything and, according to your team, they were happy with interactions with the staff. They seemed pretty pleased when checking out and they will surely come back, you thought. But… they never did.
Sounds familiar? How often do you experience the similar – your guests are satisfied with the stay in your establishment, but they never come back? Often they even post a positive review online and leave generous tips for your staff. But they are forever gone as soon as they walk through the door. How come? The answer to this might lie in one tiny fact many hotels (or other hospitality establishments) still often overlook – guests experience during the stay is not equal to the experience of their journey.
What matters is what happens in between
Guests experience journey with your brand or hotel goes beyond the stay itself and even beyond the touch-points, which we often concentrate on. It is also the experience they had when browsing information about you on the internet; it is the complexity of your website when booking, your communication prior arrival, informations availability during the stay and the amount of other effort they had to put in order to have an enjoyable stay.
Think about your life. What does it take to have a great day? Is it only how successful your meetings were, how great the dinner with your life partner went and how relaxing the night on the sofa ended? Surely not! There is also the weather (or your (un)suitable clothing), the traffic you face, the queue you had to wait for that cup of coffee during the lunch and that heartwarming postcard from an old friend you found in the postbox. All these things – big and small – shape your day and affect the final experience.
Making guests happy with individual interactions is a good place to start, but the success awaits when we begin seeing what happens in between. Only by looking into the experience through your guests’ eyes and along the whole journey you can really understand how their end-to-end satisfaction is.
What to ask and how to find the answers
Do we do anything that cause irritation? Frustration & other negative emotions? Or simply takes time? Is experience along the way personalised and engaging? Does the guest feel we are authentic and somewhat special? Is it easy to “be” with us?
We might have the nicest front-desk staff in the world, but if the guest needs to go to reception for every piece of information or arrangements during the stay, that won’t leave the best impression. We might deal with issues in the best possible manner, leaving the guest delighted with the service provided in that certain encounter, but are the root cause addressed and the follow up takes place? Our establishment itself might be the dream to visit, but how convenient the transfer is?
Has our restaurant got enough parking available in the area? Does that excursion we sell truly enrich guest’s stay and is worth offering? Even the layout of the room matters – where we place certain things – be it power sockets, towels or a hair dryer – everything makes a difference. And if some things are not in our power, they should at least become our concern – guests satisfaction depends on cumulative experience, so all needs to be addressed.
So take a deep breath and allow yourself some time to take your guest’s journey – go through the path they walk when dealing with your business or brand, feel the emotions it calls out and identify questions they might encounter. Experience not only the stay itself, but what comes before and after. And, sooner that you thought, you might find the answer to why despite your excellent service they have never returned.
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― About the Author ―
Trainer & Consultant, Sole Proprietor at Guestbook Consulting
Raimonda Grigaite-Kjeldsen has over 10 years experience in international tourism working with world’s leading tour operator, various hotels in different destinations and other hospitality professionals. She now aims to help hospitality establishments to unlock their full potential in delivering great service and create long lasting memories for the guests by helping industry representatives to understand guests’ needs and find their very own, original way of delivering the unforgettable experience.
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