hospitality

Hotel guest experience: expectations vs reality - Manet Mobile Solutions

Today’s guests have a host of expectations when it comes to their experience at hotels.

But when was the last time you actually asked your guests what they wanted?

Knowing your guests is foundational to pulling together the right kind of experience.

Not every hotel or hotel experience needs to have all the bells and whistles, the latest tech, or the fancy fixings. Instead, what counts more is if your guests have the right guest experience – both, for your brand and your hotel’s niche.

Guest satisfaction scores across the hotel experience - Manet Mobile Solutions
Source: Deloitte

Engagement, listening, empowerment, knowledge, and surprising moments – these are the factors that lead to consistent guest satisfaction across the hotel experience.

So, the question is…what are you promising your guests?

What do guests experience from hotels today?

While hotels are trying to figure out what, precisely, their brand of guests are looking for, guests have no qualms in demanding more.

Part of this demand comes from a rapid-fire evolution of available tech in the hospitality sphere.

The other aspect is due to social media’s reach and influencer marketing – in particular, guests today take their recommendations, plan their itineraries, and choose hotels, locations, and rental providers based on social-media sponsored content.

Understand that, when it comes to travel and hospitality, hoteliers are the ones who seek to create this sense of escape, a haven where travelers can retreat, relax, and explore their surroundings.

It’s a promise inherent in the very notion of travel.

Because of this, a guest’s main expectation is one of authenticity – it’s absolutely necessary for a hotel to not only deliver on their promises but to listen to travelers, across the duration of their stay.

Hotel guest experience base requirements - Manet Mobile Solutions
Source: Hotelogix

The above infographic perfectly captures the base requirements for any hotel to match when it comes to guest experience.

Each aspect of the guest’s stay should be a moment in which to capture, delight, engage, and gain further knowledge about preferences.

Just like what guests say they want from a hotel experience.

What is the reality of hotel experience for travelers instead?

Travelers expect, first and foremost, “customer service” to be of the highest standard. What’s tricky, however, is that this standard keeps rising.

The reality of the hotel experience for many travelers is sub-par at best. This is a missed opportunity given that 97% of customers report that customer service is key to their loyalty and 83% of customers view travel as a right, not a luxury.

It’s not only that they want to be heard, engaged, acknowledged, and actually surprised or “delighted”, as the stats reveal: Customers want the promises of hotels to be met – and then surpassed.

Instead, their frequent experience is often something like this:

Hotel pictures: web vs reality
Source: Medium

Hoteliers need to consider what the first point of contact is during each interaction or “moment”. For example, during the moment of booking, customers’ expectations are very different than during the moment when they’ve arrived and have actually spent a night on the premises. 

Improving the guest experience journey - Manet Mobile Solutions
Source: Deloitte

Each of these “moments” or points of interaction call for their own set of expectations and “customer service”.

By using technology and re-thinking the customer service aspect of each of these micro-moments, hoteliers can actually move the needle towards meeting customer expectations.

Take note of these five keys to improving guest experience. When combined with the above six points of interaction, any improvements you make – via technology, operational changes, loyalty programs, room features, etc. – will give you a major ROI.

It’s now time to consider the details on how to enhance the reality of your guests’ stay so that it actually matches, if not surpasses, expectations.

Using technology to make “upgrades” feel standard


In the hospitality business, you have a unique advantage: You have the ability to plan for and anticipate customers’ expectations.

And, thanks to the digital landscape, engaging with your customers can happen through multiple channels, multiple opportunities, and in a much more personal way. On the one hand, customers expect, for example, their queries to be responded to within 24 hours of inquiry.

But, on the other hand, hoteliers now have the technology to actually fulfill this promise – and go beyond, in several respects.

Let’s take a look.

Room Service


Expectations

Your customer expects on-demand, in-room “dining service” to suit their ordering behavior – this means it occurs online, occurs through a user-friendly interface, and should be available at any time of the day or night.

Reality

Often, what customers get is a service that is limited, in many ways. From hours of operation, to food quality, ordering experience, and even food variety, customers feel as though they’re at the mercy of what the hotel has to offer.

How to bridge the gap

Room service is incredibly important to the guest experience. No, your guests don’t want to avoid it – they want to have it be seamlessly integrated into their stay. They also want to make sure that there are dietary options that suit their needs. This includes gluten-free or vegan options.

See, 43% of guests say room service quality and speed is extremely important when selecting a hotel. 27% say that if a hotel doesn’t offer it, they simply won’t book.

To bring reality in alignment with expectations, use in-room tablets that feature a native app, allowing customers to order from the hotel’s menu as well as nearby, external options as well.

Create opportunities to search for options by preferences. For example, your native app could use tags to help guests search for specific cuisines or vegan options.

Amenities


Expectations

When guests book a stay at a hotel for a particular reason – an infinity pool, thermal springs, a beautiful rooftop terrace, for example – they’re looking for that expectation to be met.

This is the reason, after all, for their booking. And, for your brand, this is a distinct competitive edge. So you need to deliver on it. Luckily, you have the technology to back it up.

Reality

The reality is that, when they book, the experience being promised rarely lives up to a guest’s expectations.

Here, you’re missing out on the opportunity to seal your customer’s loyalty and actually live up to your promise.

How to bridge the gap

You want to fulfill three goals:

Keep guest expectations intact
Drum up their anticipation
Deliver authentically on your promise of amenities.
To do this, use a combination of social media and 360-degree camera technology to give your potential guest the opportunity to actually view or tour that special offering.

If it is an infinity pool, for example, you can feature others’ videos of your pool on your social media pages, such as your Instagram page or Facebook Business Page.

You can also harness review management sites and place a widget in a welcome email sequence that allows customers to trust that the experience or amenity they’ve booked for is actually what they’ll receive.

Room Features


Expectations

Without a doubt, guests expect a digitally-enhanced and augmented room experience.

From smart TVs that hook up easily to their latest apps and tablets, to smart-control temperatures, and automated functions like blinds or cooling/heating, their expectations are commensurate with their own in-home experience.

Since guests can call on digital assistants to help them finagle these environment controls in their own home, they expect hotels to catch up and re-create a similar experience of user control and personalized preference.

Reality

Unless you’re a boutique or independent hotel that can call the shots in a rapid-fire manner, chain or franchise hotels find it difficult to make changes – even ones they know their guests are expecting.

Because of the sheer size and scale of large-chain operations, independent franchise hotel owners/managers fail to make these hotel-wide changes in time.

Or, they simply don’t have the budget.

How to bridge the gap

Again, it’s difficult to implement these tech-based changes that augment the in-room experience if you’re either operating on a tight budget or you need to have changes approved by someone over you.

Instead, consider gaining permission to revamp just one or two rooms.

You can opt to offer these as a “beta” or a “VIP” experiences that customers will receive on a “discount” (or at standard cost) – in exchange for data. They’ll give you feedback, be available for interviews or surveys about their experience, and they’ll speak more about their preferences.

This way, you’ll gain invaluable and deeper insight into your guests’ needs, building a solid case for when you want to make these changes a standard and hotel-wide stipulation.

Check-In Experience


Expectations

The check-in experience should be smooth, seamless and, for the most part, completely automated.

Guests neither want to nor expect to stand in line all day, waiting for something as simple as a check-in.

While they’re always willing to be greeted, guided, and helped to their rooms, the actual communication, the hand-off of keys, and instructions should all be automated and personalized, via an app or through consoles and functionality within hotel lobbies.

Reality

Even though it’s incredibly easy to use highly flexible, powerful, and specific software, tailored to your hotel’s check-in process, many managers and owners are doing things the tedious way.

Often, there’s a fear that automation means the elimination of the human touch. This couldn’t be further from the truth.

Instead of wasting your customers’ time, having them wait in line to check-in, what could you do with five to seven extra minutes conversing with them, welcoming them, and assessing their needs?

And what might that do for your reputation?

How to bridge the gap

While some hotels are actually going as far as using robot “butlers” to guide guests to their rooms or welcome them, you don’t have to go that far (yet!)

A simple way to bridge the gap is to use software automation that takes care of the user-input required aspect of the check-in process. Allow users to make an account, hook them up with past room preference information, and give them rewards for performing certain actions.

In the meantime, your management staff is freed up to personally greet your guests, make recommendations, and troubleshoot real issues.

Conclusion


Technology can help you secure your guests’ next visit and guarantee their booking. Take time to actually think through the process of “goodbye.” You’d be surprised at how many opportunities there are to “convert” your guest.

The best time to capture their attention and create the next booking is when you’ve delighted them with their stay already. Using a loyalty rewards program or predictive analytics, you can create a personalized offer for their next visit that not only mimics this one, but it also enhances the experience further.

 2
Sustainability in hospitality - Manet Mobile Solutions

If we have a quick look at the hospitality industry’s new trends (sensory and fun experiences, personalized perfumes, top chefs & bartenders just to mention some) we can easily acknowledge that accommodation facilities have become hubs of modern socialization, in addition to their role as places of hospitality.

The future of hospitality is green

Not anymore just locations to be lived throughout guests’ stay, hotels are increasingly becoming catalysts of the most contemporary lifestyle and consumption’s tendencies.

In the last few years, consumers’ behaviour has increasingly started being driven by environmental and ethical choices following which adopting environmentally responsible conducts has become more and more important also for accommodation facilities.

Since then this trend has only grown and a few years ago, a corporate social responsibility survey by Nielsen brought out that “more than half (55%) of global respondents say they are willing to pay extra for products and services coming from companies that are committed to positive social and environmental impact—on increase from 50 percent in 2012 and 45 percent in 2011” 

Acording to  Accenture and the UN Global Compact “the millennial consumer, coming from an economically and empowered by new technologies era, is driving new expectations of business. People in every part of the world see the act of expenditure and consumption as a means to enhance health and livelihood, boost community wellbeing, and shift the direction of the world (…). Today’s consumers have higher expectations from businesses addressing their needs and traditional approaches to sustainability, centred on philanthropy and CSR, may lead to customer dissatisfaction”.

How hotels can minimize their impact on the environment

Sustainable tourism demand is also a growing trend and this is the reason why the hospitality industry is moving towards ecologically sustainable levels of resource consumption. Tourist accommodation facilities adopting high sustainability standards are globally increasing.

Some of these standards are about
• adopting energy-saving technologies;
• choosing digital documents instead of printed ones to avoid paper waste;
• offering menus with organic and Zero Km ingredients.

Digital documents in hospitality

How hotel’s attention to the environment creates new loyalty

In their effort to increase guest loyalty, the hospitality industry players are increasingly looking for innovative ways to reduce waste. And there are really lots of benefits deriving from this eco-friendliness.

According to a recent survey by TripAdvisor, travelers who have already chosen eco-friendly hotels are at least 40% on the total!

Therefore, communicating attention towards the environment seems to have become a big competitive advantage towards accommodation facilities that are still having trouble with embracing a “green” philosophy in their ordinary operations.

How to communicate a “green” orientation

Hotels and b&bs can communicate and deliver their “green” orientation today by using many different strategies. Here are some strategy ideas:

• hotels or b&bs can dedicate a section of their official websites to their eco-friendly initiatives and policies and also make sure that their green orientation is reflected on their OTA descriptions and offers;
• accommodation facilities can ban single-use plastic items and invest in solar systems for the production of electricity and hot water
• hotels can substitute in-room brochures, maps and dining menus with smart devices containing all the related information in digital format;

Technology in hospitality helps save the planet

The above are just some of the many things accommodation facilities can do to go green but both imporant organizational changes and considerable investments are necessary to convert a hospitality-related business into a totally eco-friendly one and not every business has the economic resources that are necessary to implement a green transformation. However every hospitality business is able to adopt low-cost measures that can make a big difference both in terms of achieving an eco-friendly appeal at the eyes of travelers and in terms of protection towards the environment.
Technology is key to most of these low-cost measures.

Paper waste in the hospitality industry

Paper waste

A hotel guest generates about 1 kg of waste per day and almost a third of this waste is paper

Waste generated by hotels

At the same time guests’ choices are more and more oriented towards accommodation facilities showing respect for the environment. Decreasing paper consumption and waste is a very important aspect of environmental conservation as in the last 10 years we’ve lost about 94 million hectares of forests (the size of Venezuela) because of tree use for paper production.
According to the United Nations System, “despite the importance of forests, reports continue to indicate huge forests losses. Almost half of the planet’s original forest has been destroyed, mostly during the last three decades”.
Very often wood is used to produce unnecessary things: more than half of cropped wood is processed into paper but only 10% of it becomes durable goods like books for example. The other 90% ends up being disposable.
This paper waste has devastating effects on our planet!
On the one hand natural disasters and famines are originated from compromised ecosystems and, as a result, on the other hand, planet biodiversity is strongly threatened.

How the hospitality industry can cut down paper waste and actively protect the planet

The hospitality industry could play a leading role in reducing global paper waste: thanks to technology, more and more tourist accommodations are able to replace paper with digital documents and solutions having a very low environmental impact as well as a very positive impact on guest experience and cost reduction.

Manet Hospitality Technology

The means to paper reduction in accommodation facilities are numerous but the advent of personalized smartphones in hotel rooms seems to be the real revolution in the hospitality industry allowing to cut down on paper waste for
• tourist guides: on mobile devices the best itineraries, geolocated experiences and complete guides, including cities’ best attractions, are free and always accessible;
• museums or events tickets: mobile devices allow guests to buy tickets in a fast and secure way; furthermore, guests don’t need paper tickets anymore as they get their tickets in digital formats on their smartphones;
• hotel services: all hotel ancillary services can be delivered through smartphones; in-room dining and restaurant menus can be digitalized, eliminating the need of their printed versions;
• check-in and customer satisfaction forms: any type of form can be delivered to hotel guests digitally through smart devices. This way not only tons of paper are saved but also an incredible amount of work-hours are not necessary anymore for form encoding and can be dedicated to other operations
Considering all the above, the advantages brought by smart devices to the hospitality industry are evident and impact positively both the environment and the economies of accommodation facilities.
Manet is committed to providing the best hospitality technology to hotels and b&bs allowing them to save paper, time and money while delivering an extraordinary experience to their guests. As a result our planet is protected and travelers are happier than ever before!

 1

Room service has always had and still has an undeniable role in hospitality. However, recent data has confirmed that despite its indisputable importance, it’s subject to operational risks, mainly related to high numbers of required personnel and low profit margins.

As Paul Sacco (CEO and president of the Massachusetts Lodging Association) said ” Room service represented just 1.2 percent of total hotel revenue, down from 1.3 percent in 2011. And it continues to drop. The hotels do it for the convenience of the guest. Is it a profit center? No. Emphatically, I can tell you no.”

However, the answer to room service profitability issues seems to be lying in technology.

New technologies are, in fact, having a big impact on tourism-related businesses and new evidence shows that successful room service goes beyond a beautiful room and qualified staff.

Guest comfort and convenience are becoming always more important and technology, more than any other factor, seems to be key in achieving them.

The end of room service (?)

Room service represents a fundamental part of hospitality services. Despite this, it’s worth only 1% of hotel earnings, according to PFK Hospitality’s 2007 data. Since then, this percentage has kept decreasing. The Midtown Hilton, one of New York’s most visited hotels, eliminated room service in 2013 for this very reason. Many mid-range hotels followed, reducing room service, either by available hours or general offers. 
But, in the other hand, room service is fundamental for hotel reputation and its impact goes beyond earnings. In fact, room service is considered an integral part of hotel amenities just like swimming pools or spas: profitable or not these services shape and identify the experience offered by each hotel.
Try to imagine, just for a second, during your stay in a hotel, at night, while it’s raining outside, you get hungry and you realize that the hotel’s restaurant is closed and room service is not available. The only choices you have in that case are either vending machines or dealing with the storm! Therefore it’s easy to understand how important room service is for hotels aiming at being competitive and building a good reputation.

Room service breakfast - Manet Mobile Solutions

The room service comeback

The press pointed fingers at The Midtown Hilton’s room service removal decision. Business Insider wrote “What’s the point of staying in a luxury hotel if you’re not going to be able to order breakfast in bed?” and John Fox from PKF Consulting commented “Here’s a message to hotels that are cutting room service: Suck it up and pay the labor costs for room service, or don’t call yourself a “luxury hotel.”

Guests did the same, commenting, “There are so many hotels to choose from. If everyone is offering room service, I don’t know why I would pay the same rate with no service.”

Moreover, a recent study by Statista performed on adults aged 18 to 65 brought out that room service seems to be the most important element of hospitality-related services, second only to WiFi connectivity.

Business traveler in hotel ordering room service - Manet Mobile Solutions

The reasons behind the importance of room service are numerous. Think for example of people traveling for business and needing a late in-room dinner. Or think of leisure travelers desiring a snack while watching their favourite tv show. It easilly becomes obvious that hotels, instead of being focused on breakfast, should start focusing on 24/7 room service solutions to match their guests’ needs. After all, people go out of their daily routines when they travel so why force them to eat only at standard meal times!

The answer is technology!

The most dynamic hotels of the world have started adopting innovative solutions to adapt to the market’s room service needs and, at the same time, use room service to delight their guests.

In New York, with the “Emoji Room Service”, offered by Aloft Hotels, guests can use emoticons to place their orders. In NH Hotels’ Mood-Rooms, guests can request a wakeup service with gradual lighting increase, uplifting music, curtains that open automatically and in-room breakfast service. Last but not least, at La Quinta Inn & Suites you might be surprised to see your room service order delivered by TigerBot, a cute delivery service robot.

However, technology by itself is not sufficient to provide a good room service experience. There are other important elements to keep in mind in order to provide the ultimate room service experience.

Know your guests…

There are many ways to improve hospitality services. But what’s the best one? The answer is simple: Listen to your guests.

Instead of just pushing standardized services to them, try to understand what their real needs are. There are business travelers needing a quick breakfast very early in the morning before the breakfast buffet becomes available. There are also leisure travelers (representing a huge percentage of overall travelers) who desire a coffee or a snack while they are relaxing in their rooms and at any time of the day (or the night). The only way to satisfy the needs of the above is smart and efficient hotel room service.

…and be with them!

A very important parameter of an efficient and profitable room service is timing! Guests want their orders delivered immediately and hotels require the right time to prepare and deliver room service orders. As long as a guest is in his/her room, has available a room service menu and the hotel is ready to deliver things are quite straightforward. But what happens if a guest wants to place an order from outside the hotel desiring to have it ready and delivered at his/her return? Calling the reception, asking for the available options and costs and placing the order by phone becomes frustrating and time consuming and would simply result in an unsatisfied guest and a hotel losing orders and revenues. Fortunately that’s not the case anymore as new smart tools appearing in the hospitality horizon are giving new answers to the needs of the most demanding travelers and hoteliers. Manet is one of these tools and it’s changing the way hotels interact with their guests as, thanks to Manet devices, hotel guests can book hotel services and place room service orders anytime and from anywhere. In fact, Manet smartphones contain extensive information about all services and menus offered to guests by their hotel and also allow fast, effective and ubiquitous text communication between guests and hotel front desk staff.

Thanks to innovators like Manet, the future of hospitality looks really exciting and full of surprises and hotel room service issues, like high costs, are slowly but steadily being transformed in amazing business opportunities for hoteliers.

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