When was the last time you were a guest on your own property? Not the last time you spent a night or two, but the last time you stayed on your property as a guest. You know your property intimately. You know what differentiates your property from others and which experiences exceed what guests can receive elsewhere. You know down to the smallest detail what your property offers to enrich a guest’s stay. Does your guest?
Modern guests take a more hands-on approach to their vacation planning. They want to book their stays with devices of their choosing at times of their choosing. To ensure guests get the most out of their time on your property, you need to ensure they can easily find and book the experiences that make your property stand out from others. You need to combine your knowledge of your property with your ability to view your property as a new guest so you can construct the ultimate guest journey.
Before putting on your guest’s shoes, you need a plan. Work with your property staff and available guest information to determine:
- What attracts guests to your property?
- What amenities do guests typically use? Do different guests use different amenities?
- What amenities or services do guests miss out on because they don’t know about them or are too late to take advantage of them?
After considering the above questions, you can start walking in your guest’s shoes and ensure your property enables you to plan a stay that 1) takes advantage of what makes your property stand out, 2) provides exposure to the amenities that are relevant to you and 3) informs you of underused amenities that are forgotten about or missed if not booked ahead of time.
Embarking on Your Journey
Modern guests are tech-savvy and want to book their stays from your online booking engine. Your booking engine with a well-thought-out customer journey will ensure that a guest (you) can take advantage of everything you have to offer and increase the chance they book activities (dinner reservations, spa appointments, activities) with you.
Booking a room should be the first step on your booking journey. As a guest, are you:
- prompted to take advantage of any upgrades or stay enhancements (room upgrade, tray of fruit or wine upon arrival)?
- directed to a page where you can book other services your property offers (spa treatments, tee times, surf lessons, yoga classes)?
- encouraged to sign up for a package based on your previous selections (a facial, manicure, couples massage at the spa, a golf lesson with a golf pro, a multi-day surf school, a yoga retreat, a wine tasting or a cooking class with your chef)?
- reminded to make time-sensitive bookings to ensure you don’t miss out (dinner reservations, tickets to an event, a prime deck chair, or a cabana spot by the water)?
By taking the time to book – receiving a single guest itinerary for everything you have booked for your stay as a guest, you can see where the booking journey needs to be tweaked so guests can book a comprehensive and memorable stay based on their personal preferences.
Adjusting Your Course Along the Way
Once on property, guests plans can change. Based on things they see, conversations with other guests, they may want to adjust their itinerary. As you experience your property from your guest’s perspective, how easy is it for you to make these changes? Do you need to contact property staff, or do you have digital access to your bookings? Ideally, your property will offer its own app that empowers guests to indulge their impulses.
As a guest, you should have the ability to book additional activities from your mobile device. If you hear about a spa treatment another guest enjoyed or an outstanding meal from an on-property restaurant, you should be able to book them yourself immediately. If you’re poolside and see a guest enjoying a snack or drink, you should be able to order the same thing on your mobile device from right where you are, to be served to you at your poolside chair. This ability to customize on the fly will enhance the experience of being well-attended to while on property.
Your property should not just be relying on you to use the app to enhance your stay. Your staff should be using the app to proactively make relevant suggestions that help you make the most of your time on your property. With messaging and push notifications through your app, your staff can inform you of opportunities as they become available. Did you enjoy a meal at an on-property restaurant? Staff should be able to notify you of upcoming specials at that restaurant. Did you attend (or try to book a class)? Property staff should be able to alert you of openings in relevant classes that you might also enjoy. Did you receive a particular treatment at the spa? Notification on special pricing for any product relevant to your treatment should be sent to you. The more a guest uses a property’s facilities, the more satisfied they are with their stay. Your app needs to maximize guest exposure to your property and its offerings.
Returning to Work
Every vacation must come to an end. After taking off your guest’s shoes, it’s time for you to put your shoes back on and assess your time as a guest.
- Were you able to take advantage of everything your property has to offer?
- Was it easy for you to make and change bookings for your property’s amenities?
- Were you notified of upgrades and stay enhancements?
- What did your property do well?
- Where are there technology gaps that prevent your property from exceeding guest expectations?
If you have discovered technology gaps that prevent you from delivering an enhanced guest experience, reach out to a hospitality solutions provider. With the knowledge you’ve gained from your journey as a guest, you can work with an innovative hospitality solutions provider who will help you realize your vision to make guest experiences distinctive and exceptional enough to spark guests’ intent to return.
About the author
Don DeMarinis is the Sr VP – Sales & Marketing, Americas & EMEA for Agilysys a global leader in hospitality technology. Don is a hospitality industry veteran, having consulted global hospitality brands and properties on innovative approaches to guest experiences and staff empowerment for three decades. He previously served as Vice President, Sports & Entertainment, Foodservice Management globally at Oracle/MICROS, and as Vice President, Leisure & Entertainment at MICROS prior to its acquisition by Oracle. Most recently, he served as Chief Commercial Officer at QikServe, a cloud-based service that enables self-service ordering through mobile, web and kiosk channels, where he led the development of scalable, global, revenue generating channels. In addition, DeMarinis has helped a number of companies, including Gusto and Brolin Retail Systems, build successful sales processes and aggressively expand their market shares.