Guest Engagement Is Your Alpha & Omega
There are two particular topics that we choose to talk about a lot here at Portier Technologies - the importance of hotel staff and the value of guest engagement. We have previously covered the role that hotel staff plays in delivering a unique guest experience and highlighted as to how we work in harmony with staff.
At the same time, we've been very vocal about the importance of guest engagement. In fact, a large share of our statements goes towards the notion that better guest engagement results in a stronger bottom line for hotel operators. Arguably, there couldn't be a more fitting era in hospitality to tackle guest engagement properly.
In order to approach guest engagement from the correct angle, let's set the scene first. Time and time again, we've stated that an engaged guest will spend 45% more on ancillary services at the hotel than a guest who feels disengaged. Given the drastic changes our industry and our lives have gone through in 2020, that number and its impact are on the rise.
Having said that, guest engagement at hotels has often been limited to personal interactions between staff and guests. Regardless of a more urgent need for physical distance today, close proximity to guests has always been a challenge, as travelers typically don't spend their holidays in the hotel room. According to the Express (2020), British travelers only spend around 3 hours a day in their hotel room, and 70% never take advantage of services like the hotel spa. In other words, hoteliers have a very small window for engagement, especially if that guest engagement is limited to the physical property in particular.
However, human interaction and the previously mentioned power of staff are critical in driving more revenue from each guest. Just take a look at the travel booking industry. According to Trekksoft (2019), human interaction leads to a higher spend per head during the holiday booking process.
With reference to the above statistics, only around 18% of travelers experienced human interaction in the booking process, but that small group ended up contributing to almost half of the industry's overall revenue numbers for 2018. What's more astonishing is that between 2017 and 2018, human interaction in this procedure decreased by almost 6%, but the revenue contribution was virtually the same in both years. This simply means that when you focus on the quality of engagement, rather than the quantity, you can outclass companies or, in our universe, hotels by making your human interaction more impactful.
What does this mean in the context of technology?
This brings me to the decision-making process when it comes to selecting technology. The problem we face is that technology providers and hotel operators seemingly experience a large gap of harmony. In other words, technology focuses on efficiency, whereas a hotelier's bread and butter is human interaction.
In addition to this, there's a self-fulfilling prophecy among hoteliers that leads to technology decisions that are not thought-through. That prophecy states that the potential for incremental revenues from guests is not really there. I can't even tell you as to how many times I heard statements along the lines of "But there are so many restaurants in the city - I just don't believe I could get more travelers to spend money at the hotel's outlets." Really?
Don't take it from me, just have a look at the above statistics which clearly show that incremental revenue from each guest is not a fantasy, but indeed, a reality. If your hotel doesn't have a strategy around this, you might as well pack up, as it's going to get ugly out there. The immediate difference you'll experience in 2020 and probably in 2021 is that you will have fewer guests at your property, so focusing on more income from each will be critical. This is something our partners have experienced a lot of success with in the past.
In order for technology to support your endeavours, here are 3 things you'll have to pay attention to:
The technology needs to provide high levels of engagement to begin with. Have a read of the engagement levels for mobile applications for example - they are not good at all.
Your technology needs to reach beyond the limitations of your physical property. As you read above, people don't spend much time in their rooms. Consequently, a tablet won't do the job.
The technology needs to facilitate human interaction, and guess what? A chatbot, despite all the great statistics you're being shown, won't be the replacement.
To borrow the words of the great Canadian philosopher Ryan Gosling (sarcasm): "Be better than the Gap!"
If the current pandemic has given hoteliers anything, it's the ability to reassess and find ways in which guest engagement can enter a new era of success. This is your time to shine, so make your choices wisely!