Was it the best of times, or the worst of times? Guest feedback tells all. Good survey design pinpoints the elements of a guest experience which shaped that point of view.
Although guest feedback surveys are common in the hospitality industry today, the effectiveness of a survey really depends on how well it is designed. This is why Market Metrix starts at the end rather than the beginning. In order to gather game-changing insights, surveys must be designed with the purpose and business objectives in mind. . There are many ways to do this. What you will find below is the approach we have shaped and refined over the last 15 years of developing guest feedback surveys.
1. Start at the end.
To thoroughly understand the goals of our client, we approach the survey design process by starting at the end. Whether the intent of the survey is to increase accountability, deepen an understanding of guests' needs or identify the best areas for CAPEX improvements, we want to make sure we are asking the questions that support these initiatives.
2. Don't measure what you can't affect
Having a solid vision helps lay the foundation for a quality survey. Once goals are defined, it is important to ensure they are actionable AND support company initiatives in a real way. Too often questions are designed to be insightful, but fail when it comes to driving action. Rule of thumb: Don't measure what you can't affect or manage.
3. Identify and craft.
Once we identify what we want to get out of the survey and who is going to use the data collected, we can start to craft the structure and questions. Create the survey so the most important questions are asked first. That way if the guest doesn't complete the survey, the most valued responses are still captured. For example, we might begin by determining the loyalty of the guest by determining how likely they are to return and recommend the property. In other cases, we start with the emotional experience of their stay. We ask if the guest felt welcome, important, relaxed. These emotions are often a key driver to achieving guest loyalty.
4. Cover the bases.
Ultimately, we want to cover all essential aspects of the guest experience from reservations to room condition, from pool time to problems experienced. Word choice should reflect the guest vocabulary, so opt for "hotel operator" over "PBX". When a guest provides a negative response about specific aspects of their stay, we recommend asking follow-up comment questions to dig deeper into what was unsatisfactory and identify what can be improved for the next guest.
5. Eliminate the unnecessary
Where possible, we strive to remove any questions to which we already know the answers. Many companies are interested in tracking a guest's loyalty club status, or whether or not they are a first time guest. If this information is in the PMS system, we would want to attach it to the survey responses behind the scenes rather than waste the guest's time with an unnecessary question. This reduces survey length, and keeps the focus on the guest's experience,and keeps their attention on the answers we do not already have.
6. Summon the A-team
The survey design process requires creativity and compromise. It works best when a small team of leaders (with a vested interest) collaborate to develop this new tool. Buy-in from key stakeholders at the property is necessary for the program to be implemented successfully. When there are multiple opinions, it is helpful to designate someone to make the tough decisions to keep the process moving forward.
7. Finish at the beginning.
The paradox of the survey design process is that just as we started at the end, we finish with a new beginning. The survey created should be a reflection of current needs, but recognize that these will evolve over time. Management and market changes can drive new initiatives. Surveys need to evolve to remain relevant. Ensure the data being collected still suits your analysis needs.
Is your guest feedback survey serving its intended purpose, and fueling business improvement? If you are unsure whether it is the best of times or the worst of times it may be time to have a fresh look.