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Do you only give your guests a generic experience?

28 March 2023
Hoteliers live and breathe guest service, which they consider the key to their hotels' success. However, hoteliers need to learn more about their guests, so flexibility is the key to adapting to their needs and making every guest happy and satisfied. Most hotels need a well-defined guest experience or journey because the standard operating procedures are often siloed and, therefore, cannot form a perfect flow based on the guest.

Designing a guest experience first allows a hotel to focus on the holistic journey a guest goes through, from the moment they become aware of the hotel to booking, arrival, stay, and departure. Then, a hotel can identify opportunities to create memorable experiences and address potential pain points by outlining the guest journey and understanding the touchpoints at each stage.

Once the overall guest experience has been designed, guest services can be developed and optimized to support and enhance each step of the guest journey. This approach ensures that the guest services are aligned with the broader objectives of creating a memorable and enjoyable stay for the guest.

Design the guest experience

There are a few essential steps in designing the perfect guest experience.

Defining the guest experience

Defining the guest experience is crucial in designing a hotel's overall approach to hospitality. It involves understanding the hotel's target audience, brand positioning, and the desired emotions and impressions guests should have throughout their stay. This step helps the hotel define its unique selling points and create a cohesive experience that reflects its identity. Here are some aspects to consider when describing the guest experience.
  1. Target audience: Identify the specific travel reason to the destination and psychographic characteristics of the hotel's ideal guests, such as interests and travel preferences. This will help the hotel tailor its offerings and communication to resonate with its target audience.
  2. Brand positioning: Determine the hotel's unique selling proposition and how it differentiates itself from competitors. This could be based on location, price, star category, concept, design, or additional facilities, products, and services. Clearly defining the hotel's brand positioning will ensure that the guest experience aligns with the hotel's overall identity and attracts the correct type of guests.
  3. Emotional goals: Identify the emotions and feelings that the hotel wants to evoke in its guests throughout their stay. These emotional goals will guide the design of the guest experience and help create a memorable and enjoyable stay. Examples of emotional goals could include feelings of relaxation, excitement, luxury, or adventure.
  4. Key touchpoints: Consider the critical moments and interactions significantly impacting the guest experience. These touchpoints include reservation and booking processes, arrival and check-in, room amenities, dining options, leisure facilities, and staff interactions. Identifying key touchpoints helps prioritize areas where the hotel can create a lasting impression on its guests.
  5. Consistency: Ensure the guest experience is consistent across all channels and touchpoints. This includes consistency in branding, messaging, design, and service quality. A consistent experience will reinforce the hotel's identity and help create a strong connection with guests.
  6. Personalization: Explore opportunities to personalize the guest experience based on individual preferences and needs. Personalization can help create a more memorable and enjoyable stay for guests, demonstrating that the hotel understands and values their unique needs.
  7. Adaptability: Be open to evolving the guest experience over time to meet changing guest expectations and preferences. Please regularly review and update the guest experience strategy to ensure it remains relevant and practical.
All hotels should have an overall solid guest experience and go through all the seven steps above when designing it. However, hotels have multiple target groups, such as individual business travelers, business groups, couples, families, etc., with different needs. Therefore, every hotel needs at least a few distinct and separate guest experiences targeted to specific guests. To create exceptional guest experiences, go through the seven steps for each target group, guided by the overall guest experience.

Mapping the guest journey

Mapping the guest journey involves breaking down the guest's interactions with the hotel into distinct stages and analyzing each step to identify opportunities to enhance the experience and address potential pain points. A detailed guest journey map helps hotels understand the various touchpoints and interactions guests have with the hotel, allowing them to create a more seamless and enjoyable experience. Here's a step-by-step guide to mapping the guest journey.
  1. Identify stages: Break down the guest's interactions with the hotel. These stages typically include the following.
    • Awareness: The guest discovers the hotel through marketing, advertising, online reviews, or word of mouth.
    • Booking: The guest researches and compares different hotels and eventually makes a reservation.
    • Pre-arrival: The guest prepares for their stay and may interact with the hotel through email or phone to ask questions, provide preferences, or request special services.
    • Arrival: The guest arrives at the hotel, checks in, and gets oriented to their room and the hotel facilities.
    • Stay: The guest enjoys their room, amenities, and other hotel services, such as dining, leisure facilities, and events.
    • Departure: The guest checks out and may provide feedback or reviews about their stay.
    • Post-stay: The hotel follows up with the guest, thanking them for their stay, inviting them to provide feedback, or offering incentives to return.
  2. Analyze touchpoints: Identify the specific touchpoints where guests interact with the hotel within each stage. These could include online platforms, such as the hotel's website and social media channels, and in-person interactions, such as check-in/check-out and staff assistance.
  3. Assess guest needs and expectations: At each touchpoint, please consider the guest's needs, preferences, and expectations. Then, determine the required information or services and how the hotel can best address them.
  4. Identify opportunities for improvement: Look for areas where the hotel can enhance the guest experience or address potential pain points. This might include streamlining the booking process, offering personalized services, improving staff training, or upgrading facilities and amenities.
  5. Prioritize actions: Based on the analysis of the guest journey, prioritize the areas where improvements will significantly impact the guest experience. Focus on implementing changes to benefit guests and increase customer satisfaction and loyalty.
  6. Implement changes and measure results: Once improvements have been identified and prioritized, implement the necessary changes and monitor their impact on the guest experience. Collect feedback from guests and staff to evaluate the effectiveness of the changes and make adjustments as needed.
Hotels must map a few different guest journeys depending on the target groups. The general guest journey will be the same, but there will be distinctive differences based on the target group. By mapping the guest journey and carefully analyzing each stage, hotels can better understand their different guests' needs and preferences, allowing hotels to create a more seamless and enjoyable experience. This process also helps hotels identify areas for improvement and prioritize actions that will significantly impact guest satisfaction.

Data is everything

To define and map the guest experience effectively, you need to collect various types of data to help you understand your guests' needs, preferences, and expectations, as well as to evaluate the effectiveness of your efforts and make necessary adjustments. Unfortunately, due to privacy rules, guests are reluctant to give a lot of data about themselves. However, hotels collect many other data types useful when designing guest experiences. Here are some key data sources that hotels contain to consider.
  1. Spending data: Analyze data from your hotel's property management system (PMS), customer relationship management (CRM) system, and point of sale (POS) system. This information can help you track guest preferences, spending habits, and service utilization patterns, allowing you to tailor your offerings and improve operational efficiency.
  2. Psychographic and demographic data: Ideally, hotels would also like to gather psychographic data such as interests, preferences, and motivations for travel and demographic data such as geography, age, and gender. It is a bit more sensitive, but the front desk staff could always add information to the hotel PMS.
  3. Booking data: Analyze reservation data to understand booking trends, such as peak periods, room types, and booking channels. This information can help optimize room availability, pricing, and marketing strategies.
  4. Website and social media analytics: Track user behavior on your hotel's website and social media platforms to understand how guests discover and engage with your brand. This data can help you optimize your online presence and identify the most effective marketing channels.
  5. Guest feedback: Collect feedback through surveys, reviews, and social media comments. Analyzing this data can help you understand their perceptions of your hotel, identify areas of improvement, and uncover successful strategies to enhance their experience.
  6. Employee feedback: Gather input from your hotel staff, as they often have valuable insights into guest needs and potential areas of improvement. Regularly engaging with your employees can also help boost morale and encourage a culture of continuous improvement.
  7. Post-stay engagement: Monitor guest engagement after their stay, such as newsletter subscriptions, social media interactions, and repeat bookings. This data can help you understand the effectiveness of your post-stay communication and loyalty strategies.
By collecting and analyzing data from these various sources, you can comprehensively understand your guests' needs and preferences, allowing you to define and map the guest experience more effectively. Furthermore, ongoing data collection and analysis will enable you to track the impact of your efforts and make data-driven adjustments to enhance the guest experience continually.
Demand Calendar solves the data challenges when hotels design guest experiences by collecting data from various sources into one system. The system analyzes ten variables by segment and provides dashboards, tools for drill-down analytics, and reporting to get insights about guest behavior to refine the guest experience. A well-thought-out guest journey provides a fantastic guest experience and leads to higher revenues and profits.