by Seth BUTERA June 9, 2021
As more people get vaccinated and travel restrictions ease around the world, it’s clear that hotel demand will return almost as quickly as it disappeared a year ago.
Pent-up demand for traveling and new experiences is real and the early numbers indicate that vaccinated people are quickly booking hotel stays.
This presents a clear opportunity for hoteliers to win back guests. However, those who enter your doors have been dreaming about this experience for more than a year. They will have high expectations and you can’t afford to let them down.
Guests will have a heightened sensitivity to cleanliness and exceptional customer service. They’ll remember their best pre-COVID hotel experiences and expect new trips to meet or exceed those expectations.
At the same time, there will undoubtedly be some remnants of COVID precautions that will make staying in a hotel somewhat frustrating.
With reduced staff, limited F&B options, and other cost-cutting measures remaining in place, how will you live up to those expectations? We’ve all had that travel experience where you return home somewhat deflated because the trip was not everything you expected.
In this post-pandemic world, hoteliers can’t miss the opportunity to delight our returning guests instead of disappointing them. We must find ways to compensate for those remaining annoyances by improving in other areas, elevating the overall experience as opposed to compromising.
To do this, hoteliers must rely on technology and automation to fill in the gaps, leaning on new tools to handle tasks that were previously handled by teams of employees.
One way to “wow” this new group of guests is through personalization. Hotels must create personal connections with their guests throughout their entire journey and tailor their stay to fit their individual wants and desires.
Hotels can begin building personalized experiences before the guest even books and continue those unique experiences all the way through the guest journey.
Personalization works best when brands or hotel collections are able to centralize their guest profiles.
This way, if a guest returns to a property within the same brand family and not necessarily to the same individual property, profile information is available and the experience can be tailored.
All of the above actions require at least some investment in technology. For example, a CRM allows hotels to consolidate profile data and provides a place to dig into these details, look at who your guests are and what their activities are in your hotel, and then be able to drive targeted communications and actions.
Even as hotels recover from an incredibly low demand period, this would be the worst possible time for a hotel to be cutting back on the technology they use to better connect with their guests. It’s more important than ever for hotels to be able to communicate the value they bring.
Marketing to previous guests is important, but also consider that COVID has changed the way many people consume content and make purchases. You’re likely speaking to new prospects that are interacting with digital experiences, particularly on mobile devices, for the first time. Booking travel and hotel experiences is no exception.