Hotel Guest Satisfaction: What Guests Really Want and How to Keep Them Happy
When talking about hotel guest satisfaction and making sure that you are providing an optimal experience for your guests during their stay, there are some things that guests will always demand.
Cleanliness is one of those things, obviously. Security, efficiency, helpfulness, and convenience are other staples of a good hotel experience that will never go out of style. But as time goes by, there are changes that need to be made in order to meet the expectations of modern guests.
The most obvious trend that demands your property’s attention is being able to keep up with the technological changes that guests have become accustomed to and finding ways to evolve your hotel’s offering with what guests expect to see in terms of innovation; the independence, personalization, and comfort that technology has introduced into every facet of their lives.
The still ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has obviously changed the game a bit when it comes to hotel guest satisfaction, most obviously in the need for hotels to speed up their properties technological evolution in order to meet some of the requirements that only technology can help them meet in such times.
But while safety and cleanliness protocols related to the pandemic have certainly become a big part of what hotel guests are looking for in 2021, there are other, unrelated trends in guest satisfaction and what they require that continue to evolve.
Let’s try to define what hotel guest satisfaction means in 2021 by first taking a look at what today’s hotel guests want most and then trying to understand what property managers need to do in order to meet these needs and preferences.
What Do Hotel Guests Want in 2021?
Before we start talking about what hotel guests want today, let’s talk a little about some of the things that might have once played an important role in guest satisfaction but are no longer as important as they once were.
Remember, the evolution of guest satisfaction includes not just new trends in guest preferences, but also the slow fading of certain services and amenities that were once incredibly important but are no longer as desired.
The concept of the mini-bar and room service are such amenities. Unless your hotel is located in a completely isolated area of a city or town where nothing else works, your guests aren’t going to want to pay high prices for drinks found in your mini-bar. The cost of stocking a mini-bar is increasingly becoming something that isn’t worth it for hotels either in today’s climate.
Providing them with a small refrigerator that they can stock themselves is going to be much more conducive to providing them with a great experience and, believe it or not, your hotel making money. How so? Because returning guests are going to make you more money than guests who never come back to your hotel because you made them purchase a $10 bottle of water instead of providing a small fridge.
Room service is the same. It’s expensive and doesn’t really provide much of an experience that guests desire. You’re much better off making sure that you’re providing your guests with good recommendations for where to eat and drink locally than encouraging them to stay in their rooms to do so.
Data from Statista shows that 48 percent of hotel guests would sacrifice room service for lower hotel rates, meaning that nearly half of the hotel guests surveyed have little to no interest in room service as an amenity.
Valet service is another once-popular amenity that seems to be going the way of the dodo. Even in luxury resorts, most guests seem pretty comfortable with being able to park their own cars.
This research performed by Gallup showed that customers across all segments strongly agree that valet parking should be eliminated, along with in-room minibars, robes, and guest room radios.
Once considered a thing of prestige, the entire concept appears to have become somewhat unimportant and unnecessary. Especially considering that there are tons of other areas your hotel could use help instead of designating an employee to stand around and wait for someone to ask them to park their car for them.
And while there are certainly amenities that were once heavily requested but are no longer as in demand, there are also certain “evergreen” amenities that guests still demand in conjunction with more modern, technology-driven amenities.
Now let’s take a look at what hotel guests still want most.
This might sound like the ultimate cliche, but hotel guests still want to get the most “bang for their buck,” which makes sense in the wake of some of the financial turmoil that COVID-19 has brought about.
The competition brought about by AirBNB and other “stay for a day” type properties, has forced hotel managers to work harder towards demonstrating the true advantages of booking a stay at their properties instead of renting a private home or room.
As they say in the industry, no price is too high if the guests are getting exactly what they expected for the price that they are paying. Hotels need to work harder at accentuating the details that separate them from other, perhaps cheaper options, in order to validate their prices.
As long as the advantages of staying at a hotel are completely clear both when guests are booking their rooms and when they have finished their stay, hotels do not need to worry about satisfied guests straying away from their offer.
Guests want to be connected to the Internet at all times because having Internet access means having access to their friends, families, and peers. What’s important to you is that all these people are potential customers.
Guests want immaculate access to the Internet, not just in their rooms, but within your entire property. Not only do business travellers want good Wi-Fi and hi-speed connections in meeting rooms, regular people want to be able to access and charge their devices anywhere on your property.
Providing connectivity for your guests is not only an amenity that they require, it’s also the best possible marketing avenue for your hotel. The more people check into your hotel and post pictures and positive impressions from your property, the more people will find out about your hotel.
One of the biggest demands that has increased significantly since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic is the need for guests to be able to take care of a large variety of procedures independently.
One of the biggest demands of guests today is that they want to be able to check in and check out of your property on their own, without needing assistance from your staff. Mobile bookings, check-ins, and check-outs are things that your property will need to focus on implementing if it hasn’t already done so.
So many things in today’s society are instant, which is why forcing guests to wait in line at the front desk for check-ins and check-outs should no longer be necessary.
Another aspect of a hotel stay that will never be considered old-fashioned is personalization. Being able to provide guests with an authentic stay that is tailored to their needs and demands is an absolute must and something that will only increase in importance.
Certainly, technology and automation have replaced some of the more standard services that guests have come to expect, but at the same time, this modernization has also increased guest expectations of wanting the hotel to take care of them on a more personalized level.
Technology has made it easier for hotels to understand exactly what their guests want, and it’s up to hotels to use technology to provide guests with a more personalized experience that will cater to exactly what they expect.
This also relates to another aspect of a hotel stay that some might consider outdated but is unequivocally an important driver for hotel guest satisfaction, which is being able to establish an emotional connection with guests. An emotional connection can be established by letting guests know that their feedback is appreciated and that your hotel understands that every guest is unique and should be treated as a singular entity whose personal and unique needs are understood and respected.
In the coming years, hotels will have to put forth more resources into making guests feel that they are special and that individual and personal needs are being catered to as best as possible.
A Home-Life Environment
At one point in time, a hotel stay was viewed as a break from reality and the everyday lives of guests. Today, more and more guests want their stay at hotels to mimic their home-life experiences as much as possible.
This, too, relates heavily to in-room and in-hotel technology and connectivity. While many want to be able to use all of their devices the way they would at home, some prefer to use hotel devices in the same way they would at home. Obviously, that means that your hotel should either provide smart devices or enable them to use their own very easily.
Technology and smart devices also factor into amenities such as room service and spa appointments. Since people can easily order food from an app on their phone or book a spa day on a website, they want to be able to do the same while staying at your hotel.
The name of the game is comfort. Guests want their Wi-Fi to work as well in their room as it does at their home. They want to be able to make coffee and tea in their rooms without having to go to the restaurant or order it. Many hotels are also letting guests select their room layouts to further personalize the experience and really make it feel as if they are in a place of their own where they can even dictate what the room will look like.
Improving Hotel Guest Satisfaction and Increasing Retention
The entire purpose of focusing on hotel guest satisfaction is to improve guest retention. You want them to visit you again. You also want them to recommend your property to friends and family as a great place to stay.
Obviously, the best way to improve guest satisfaction is through hotel guest feedback. The only way you’re going to know how to keep your guests happy is by asking them directly what they need.
The common theme in all of these processes today is obviously technology. Technology makes it easier for you to get hotel guest feedback and it makes it easier to improve their experiences.
Let’s take a closer look at how these concepts intersect and how your property should be using technology to both improve the way you collect feedback and act on it in order to improve guest satisfaction levels.
Personalization seems to be the most important hotel trend in terms of making guests happy in 2021. Hotel guests want you to know what they want without them having to tell you. Technology gives you the means to do that by providing you with better ways to engage them and more data to help you identify their needs.
Most hotel operations software today comes with a plethora of technology tools that can improve every facet of your operation, including the way that you receive feedback and analyze it. Booking websites and review sites give guests an easy way to leave their feedback and make it even easier for hotel managers to heed that feedback and implement necessary changes in order to create personalized experiences that lead to better guest satisfaction and return visits.
Provide Complete Communication
According to a recent survey, great communication with guests continues to be a very important driver in increasing guest satisfaction levels. Thanks to technology, communication is not only easier, it’s also incredibly versatile.
Guests want to know that they can communicate with you and that you are going to communicate with them as soon as they book a room. They expect a welcome email that establishes this communication.
They want to be able to communicate with you effortlessly and in the way that they prefer most. Technology has enabled that. Hotels can receive requests and any other types of communications from guests via apps and even through social media.
In 2021, the key to good communication with guests is providing them with multiple communication channels. If they have any requests or just want to ask a question, let them do it the way they prefer, whether it be in person, via text message, voice message, and even social apps like Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp.
And when the stay is finished, use their preferred channels of communication to seek reviews and feedback.
Really Start Using Data
Another brilliant aspect of technology is that hotel managers today have so much pertinent data at their fingertips. Everything that occurs on your property—staff communication and training, housekeeping procedures, maintenance, guest feedback and communication, lost & found procedures and best practices—all these processes provide data that needs to be harnessed in order to improve guest satisfaction.
Why wait for something to break in order to fix it? Use data to implement preventive maintenance procedures that serve to make sure that everything is working like clockwork and guests have nothing to complain about.
The data that technology provides has opened up an entire new world of possibilities when it comes to improving the guest experience and should become the single most important part of your team’s endeavours aimed at continually improve hotel guest satisfaction now and in the future.