The Future of Guest Feedback: Proactive vs. Predictive Experiences
In every area of business, being proactive beats being reactive. For example, if investors can follow the ebbs and flows of the stock market, they can predict when to invest and when to hold back – garnering a profit. The same is true in hospitality. However, this notion of being proactive rather than reactive when it comes to providing positive guest feedback is still a foreign concept to many.
It doesn’t just mean offering your guests a pleasant stay in the hopes of a positive review. Rather, it's about actually understanding the needs of each individual guest to provide them with the best experience.
Guests like good service but it doesn’t mean they want to talk to your staff every time they want a new bottle of hair conditioner. e3’s Travel Trends whitepaper noted that airports are moving to self-service models (self-bag drop and self-boarding) in an effort to gain a competitive advantage.
Helsinki was the first airport in the world to use beacons to monitor WiFi-enabled phones of its passengers. This provides them with real-time data on how many passengers are moving through the airport. Up next: they want to provide push message notifications to passengers based on where they are in the airport.
The hotel industry has slowly started to jump on the self-service industry (think of SPG’s keyless entry and Japan’s robot hotel. However, we can take it a step further with real-time interactions and messaging.
Right now, hotel-to-guest interactions happen in primarily three stages: online pre-stay (for research), in-person during their stay (interactions with staff) and online again post-stay (for reviews and feedback).
What hotels aren’t leveraging are online interactions with guests during their stay. That’s where real-time messaging comes in.
Using services like Checkmate, hotels can engage guests before they arrive and during their stay in real time with SMS, email and Facebook messaging. Instead of waiting to hear on an online review that your guest wished they had an extra blanket, you could instead use real-time messaging. Hotels are able to solve this issue during the guest’s stay, preventing negative reviews before they occur.
Hyatt was the first hotel to experiment with using Facebook’s Messenger application. This allows guests to communicate with them exactly like they communicate with their friends. Marriott Rewards members can use their Mobile Requests feature on their app to instantaneously make requests during their stay.
Predictive vs. Proactive
So what does this have to do with predicting guests experiences? Being proactive is the first step of the puzzle. If we want to compete against rising threats to the industry, hoteliers have to engage with guests in real-time.
The next step of the puzzle, which I believe we will get to one day, is predicting what guests want. Some hotels already have this data from their loyalty programs, enabling you to know your guest prefers lower floors and two extra pillows during their stay.
I think the future of guest feedback is to be able to mine this data to prepare for guests’ arrival. Using their personal profile info allows hotels to be more than just being proactive, but actually be predictive.
Until we move fully predictive, let’s focus on getting better at being proactive when it comes to guest satisfaction. For real-time messaging, here are three aspects you should look for:
- Instantaneous communication: Your real-time messaging app should provide you with the ability to send messages to guests instantaneously
- Multiple channels: It should allow you to communicate with guests on multiple channels – text, email, social media etc.
- Simple and easy to use: It should be easy for not only guests to use but your hotel staff as well. The only way to prevent negative reviews, and to satisfy today’s mobile-savvy, instant-gratification guest, is to provide a simple way for them to connect with you, when they want to, where they want to. Welcome to the world of real-time hotel-guest communications.