Growing RevPAR and attracting guests aren’t random activities that result from the proper combination of technologies. The secret to growing your business is building trusting relationships and creating extraordinary experiences with guests.
THE IMPORTANCE OF TRUST
We all have a story ... we’ve all been guests. During a recent stay in London, I had a mistake on my bill that couldn’t be resolved at the self-checkout. The night auditor wasn’t able to correct the bill either. He said the “PMS system isn’t working.” In a hurry to catch an early morning flight, I left, frustrated and disappointed. My trust was broken.
A property can have the best location, top notch amenities and the cleanest rooms, but without the trust of guests and staff, it won’t be successful.
When guests book, they’re asking themselves: Will it look like the photos? Will it be clean? Will I feel safe? Are the reviews authentic? Can I trust this property will deliver the experience it promises?
First we decide to trust, then we decide to stay. As Hospitality Financial and Technology Professionals (HFTP) President Neil Foster says,“Trust is the secret sauce for true hospitality.” Human-to-human touch-points provide THE golden opportunities to build trust – which leads to referrals, loyalty, and higher reviews.
Given the tight labour market and the push toward efficiency and automation, how do you make a meaningful connection with the guest?
“At Sage, our purpose is to enrich lives, one experience at a time. From the IT perspective, the way I can support this mission is by ensuring that the technology our associates depend on is reliable and working properly so that they can focus on creating connections with, and great experiences for, our guests. After all, while technology and automation are key, what guests love about a hotel is the people they connect with there and the memories they make,” said Brennan Gildersleeve, vice president of property technology for Sage Hospitality Group.
The Trust Building model states: to build trust with guests, start by building a customer centered culture of trust with your team. This model is included in HFTP’s Trusted Advisor program.
“When the technology is seamless, it translates into the guest experience,” Gildersleeve said.
Foster said, “To consider the benefits of new technology is to understand the role it plays in solving real problems. In this industry, it’s especially important to understand and cater to the needs and capabilities of the humans involved.
MAKING IT PERSONAL
Many guests prefer high touch experiences, others want self-serve and digitized stays. In HFTP’s Customer Experience and Trusted Advisor workshops, we discuss how we can make it personal for the guest.
“Regardless of how challenging or tiring your day may have been, when you’re greeted by someone who is genuinely happy you’re there, that person can turn it around for you. The front desk is a critical position. They can exceed your expectations, provide advice about the city, and earn your trust in one interaction. Being a trusted advisor makes the difference," said Diane Estner, president and founder, DANNI Enterprises.
“One of our newest hotels located in Denver, Catbird is a great example of how optimized and reliable technology can improve the overall experience for both associates and guests,” Gildersleeve said. “The property uses check-in kiosks to automate the transactional part of the arrival experience and enables the Catbird lobby ambassadors to focus on the hospitality. Each guest is personally welcomed and oriented to the amazing amenities and offerings of the hotel by the ambassador.”
Crave Interactive are experts in the digital guest experience. “Our tablet allows guests to access the services of the entire hotel from the comfort of their room, elevating their overall guest experience,” said Craig Pattenden, Crave’s head of marketing. For guests who want to speak to someone, Crave Instant Video is offered. “It is the first purpose-built video service solution for hotels. It allows guests to instantly connect with relevant hotel staff from anywhere via a video chat link,” Pattenden said.
SPREADING THE WORD
When we have a great experience, we post about it on social media, write reviews and tell our friends. Worldwide, 68% people recommend products and services we trust.
Strong guest connections are built by intentionally acting in the guest’s best interests and taking care to deliver a great customer experience. Technology can enhance the guest’s stay in numerous ways. Employees who interact directly with guests, as well as those behind the scenes, build trust through their words and actions. And trust is the secret to creating extraordinary customer experiences.