We all know that the ‘tech’ space is moving quickly. Daily we have new channels to consider… Do I have an Instagram account?… Should I be ‘Snapchatting?’… Is Twitter worth the worry?… Is Facebook old hat? Oh no, but wait a minute, did I read something somewhere about Facebook chat bot???!!! Is Facebook launching a booking platform? Or was that Google? Do I need Geo-tagging? Keyless entry into bedrooms? Ahhhhh!!!!
Lets face it, all of this changes weekly if not daily and we all know we need to be in that space but who manages it, who controls it and how on earth do I measure if it is really working?
Lets rewind a little… what seems like a lifetime ago our guests expected little more than a clean, comfortable room; hot water and most of all a friendly welcome. Forward fast a few short years and now every one of us has in our hand what is close to a super computer. Our culture demands that we are constantly online, always available, in constant communication with each other and perhaps annoyingly for most of us, some feel the need to share every single moment of their life online. When on earth did taking pictures of food become acceptable? But that is the world we now live in, so how on earth as hoteliers do we keep up?
Well the news for us all is that things are about to move again and move fast. Have a look at the first of a planned chain of ‘Virgin’ hotels. Mr Branson as we know has a way of taking the lead and very soon we may all have to follow. In his first hotel there is every piece of tech available which includes ‘Lucy’. Lucy is an app that all guests can download and Lucy will be your virtual friend while in the hotel. Lucy will help you order room service, change the temperature in your room, stream your movies from home to the TV in the room, change channels and will actually allow you to chat and interact with both the team at the hotel or fellow guests. Now hows that for guest engagement?
Right now there is technology out there that will allow you to have an instant profile of your guest – and that means being able to view their Twitter account, Facebook profile, Linkedin profile, as well as give you an overview on how they interact with TripAdvisor. Do they review a little or a lot? Are they a generally a positive reviewer or a negative reviewer? You get to see their picture and their publicly posted likes and dislikes. And all of this is available simply as soon as a guest opens their confirmation on their phone. Their IP is captured and within seconds all of that information is delivered back to you. Big Brother or useful guest profiling? You decide.
But with all of this tech available, how on earth do we decide what to focus on? All of these things are bright and shinny and yes, definitely need to be considered but I ask you this – before you go searching for something new, have you actually got the basics right? One of the fundamental things often over-looked is the welcome we should provide our guests. And I don’t mean training your front office team to actually lift their heads to greet someone as they walk through the door, but how do we start that welcome from time of browsing and shopping, right through to the time a guest leaves and beyond.
So lets get the basics right. Does your website welcome guests as they browse? Does it understand when a guest visits for the second time and does it deliver a bespoke message? If a guest books then returns to your site, does it welcome them by name? If they return to your site after they have stayed, does it recognise a potential repeat guest? Well if it doesn’t, then perhaps it should.
Then lets say that precious guest books, what does their confirmation look like? When was the last time you looked at how you are actually communicating with a new guest and how on earth is your hotel being portrayed?
Then what about pre-stay emails? What do they look like and when are they sent? Have you even considered your market segmentation and lead times? Perhaps this is something you need to go back and re-visit.
Once a guest checks-in, are you actually communicating whilst they are in-house and if so, what are you saying? Does it make any sense? What do you think your customers want to hear about while they are a guest at your hotel?
Then what about post-stay? Are you saying thank you? Offering them a chance to vent their frustrations or complaints to you directly before they even think about visiting TripAdvisor? Or if they are happy are you explaining just how important those reviews are to you?
And what about persuading them to come back? Are you any good at that and what ‘carrot’ are you offering them to return?
Are you capturing even the basics and by that I mean email addresses? If so, what on earth are you doing with them? Are you segmenting properly and are you using this pot-of-gold to communicate targeted and relevant messages?
Before we drown in new tech, lets just see if we have the basics right and for me that basic for anyone in hospitality comes back to the welcome. After all, we have been doing that brilliantly for thousands of years…
(but if you do need any help with the tech then feel free to email us at firstname.lastname@example.org)