One of the main goals for professionals in the hospitality industry is to meet and exceed guest expectations. Finding ways to provide unique, high-quality, and unforgettable experiences requires creativity, innovation, and, most importantly, a good understanding of the wants and needs of your guests.
Although there is no easy path to achieving this goal, there are proven ways to identify guests’ expectations and deliver a superior experience.
What are guest expectations?
Guest expectations are behaviors and beliefs that guests anticipate from a hospitality property at every interaction, from the moment they first find your property to check out.
These expectations change with new technology, emerging trends, smart services, and different property types.
Factors that influence guest expectations:
- Previous experience. If the guest has booked a stay before, they will already know what to expect. Therefore, it is vital to maintain standards to provide a similar or improved experience.
- Other guests’ opinions. Guests check reviews and others’ experiences with your accommodation, additional services, location, and more. These opinions help guests set expectations.
- Previous stay in other hotels or properties. Previous experiences influence what guests would desire in an upcoming holiday.
- Marketing. How you communicate your brand online and your presence on social media and OTAs can significantly impact guest expectations.
Before 2020, guest expectations included:
- Convenient location – Proximity to tourist spots, restaurants, and shops.
- Comfort – Cozy rooms, comfortable beds.
- Neatness – Clean facilities, rooms, and toilets.
- Staff – Polite and helpful professionals.
- Amenities – WiFi, parking, gym.
However, the pandemic has transformed the hotel industry, and guest expectations changed. Today travelers worldwide are looking for renewed ways to reach satisfaction, including:
- Self-service alternatives. Mobile and contactless alternatives to check-in and save time at the front desk are one of the top expectations among the millennial population.
- Optional housekeeping. According to a Best Western survey, over 70% of customers prefer skipping daily housekeeping.
- SMS instead of email. 77% of consumers 18-34 have a better perception of companies that offer text message capabilities.
- Keyless access. According to Google, 46% of travelers state that keyless solutions are an important on-property feature for them.
Importance of understanding guest expectations
Meeting guest expectations is not only essential to ensuring guest satisfaction, but it is also crucial to improving your property’s reputation through positive guest feedback.
Identifying your target audience and their expectations can help you adapt your services to meet their needs, refine your guest messaging strategy, reinforce your presence across all online channels, develop a competitive advantage, and differentiate yourself from competitors.
Five types of guest expectations
Deloitte categorized five basic needs essential for hoteliers to understand if they want to meet and exceed their guests’ expectations.
1. Engage me
It refers to the need for guests to be treated with kindness and respect. A survey found that staff friendliness is the main reason for a positive stay.
2. Hear me
The second need guests have, is to feel heard at any time, especially if something goes wrong. They require hotels to be able to react to and address negative experiences timely.
3. Empower me
This one relates to the need for autonomy and for hotels to provide guests with tools and technology to help them shape their experience.
4. Delight me
Although guests don’t need surprises, they are a great ally in exceeding expectations.
5. Know me
Personalization is becoming a need and a way for hotels to stand out.
How to identify guest expectations
A Salesforce study found that 66% of customers expect companies to understand and meet their expectations. To do that, you first need to identify them. But how can you do that?
The best way to discover what guests want and expect is to ask them. Their feedback is the most valuable tool to understand what they require for an exceptional experience.
Ways to gather feedback
There are many ways to collect your guests’ opinions and feedback. Here are 6 of the most effective.
1. Online reviews
40% of travelers leave an online review after a positive experience, and 48% leave an opinion after a negative experience. These reviews contain valuable information for hoteliers to identify areas of improvement and where they are performing well.
2. Customer satisfaction surveys
Surveys are usually sent to guests via email and can be used throughout the guest journey to identify their degree of satisfaction. Unlike online reviews, you can customize surveys to gather feedback on specific areas or services.
3. Online reputation solutions
The web contains so much information that it can be challenging to follow up. You can monitor, organize, respond to reviews promptly, and measure performance with online reputation solutions.
4. Website live chat
A great way to gather opinions and improve satisfaction is by adding a live chat feature to your hotel’s website. This tool will help you gain insight based on guests’ questions before their trips and understand their needs.
5. Social listening
Social listening refers to monitoring social media channels to find mentions of your brand. Guests talk actively on social media; knowing what they say can give you valuable insights.
6. Digital messaging platform
Sending your guests automated text messages through digital messaging can give you insights into their entire journey and the possibility of solving any potential problems before, during, and after their stay.
To simplify gathering guest feedback, you can use guest messaging software to send surveys, collect their opinions, and monitor your online reviews to spot the negative and positive aspects so you can act upon them.
By understanding your guests’ needs, you can better meet their expectations and find solutions to improve their satisfaction before, during, and after their stay and ensure they keep coming back.