Why do guests choose a particular hotel? Experience. As you might guess, location and price top the list. But assuming you're operating a hotel, and not building one, there isn't much you can do about location. Price, likewise, has a lot of constraints. Rate cutting is not sustainable. It may goose business in the short term, but can set unreasonable expectations and restrict future price increases.
Experience, on the other hand, gives you a lot to work with. Creating great experiences for your guests is by far the best way to keep your best customers, and attract others. Just look at the data above. Experience tops the list of things you can do to influence hotel selection. And with all the fuss nowadays about online reputation and reviews, it's interesting to see experience is four times more likely to influence hotel selection. Yes, a large portion of travelers do consult online reviews (and let's be clear here, they are extremely important) before making a booking. But it appears that online reviews are used more often to gather information or to disqualify options than as the primary reason for selecting a hotel.
Experience drives loyalty and referrals
What's really powerful about experience is that it is the key to future bookings. Experience is what builds loyalty, drives referrals, and creates positive word-of-mouth and online reviews.
Experience has always been among the top things travelers consider when choosing a hotel. But in recent years it has grown in significance. The importance of past experience in hotel selection has climbed over the past few years while the emphasis given to location and price has remained constant.
Creating winning experiences
Every company can create engaging experiences for its customers. But aligning products, services and the guest's emotional experience with a target market and goals of the company is a big challenge. Companies who successfully improve their customer experience typically follow a simple model of continuous guest feedback and learning. This process often includes: collecting reliable guest feedback, empowering and incentivizing employees to act on results, investing to improve weaknesses and celebrating success.
Market Metrix has identified five key elements that are fundamental to creating a superior customer experience strategy:
The customer experience is not an isolated transaction; it is an organization-wide process. Align policies, rules and procedures to support a superior guest experience.
Employee performance can significantly differentiate a company from its competitors. The attitude and treatment provided by employees can have a huge impact on loyalty, often more important than products or services.
Emotions play an important role in guest satisfaction and loyalty, and are typically a better predictor of customer loyalty than traditional measures of product and service satisfaction.
Basic, low-tech products and services are often the core of positive guest experiences and guest loyalty.
Move beyond features, products and processes by strengthening the relationships you have with your customers. Continuous feedback systems establish an operational backbone that adds structure and helps companies engage customers and keep pace with changes in the market.
All over the world, many hotel companies are focusing their attention on the guest experience and are innovating new kinds of customer experiences. They are redirecting their resources on the guest experience as they discover its link to loyalty and overall business results. It's no longer enough to offer a good product or service, you have to wow the customer in order to win their advocacy and keep them from trying someone else next time.