How has hotel guest experience and satisfaction changed in 2024?

The past two years have been brutal for the travel industry. Thankfully, things are starting to pick back up thanks to vaccinations and new travel protocols. Everyone’s itching to get out and explore!

And the travel industry is cautiously optimistic about a travel boom as millions of travelers get ready to make up for lost time. 

While the hotel demand looks set to return to normal, there are new challenges to consider. Implementing COVID protocols can be costly. And staff shortages are putting pressure on hotels to raise wages, which threatens already thin margins. 

Let’s take a look at what you can do to stand out and give your guests a stay they’ll remember!

Why is guest experience so important?

The absolute core of the hospitality industry is the guest experience. A study by Mckinsey & Company found that following COVID, guest satisfaction levels have returned to more normal levels. But “despite high satisfaction ratings, negative sentiment is on the rise.” With this in mind, hotels need to be more aware than ever about what their customers want and how best to deliver.

Hospitality has always been about building human connections. In the past, hotels relied on their staff to offer face-to-face, genuine, host-to-guest interactions. During the pandemic, many of these interactions moved to the digital realm. Overnight, “high tech” became the way for hotels to convey “high end” without the “high touch.” 

Living in the world of Uber and Venmo, we’ve become accustomed to a certain level of ease in our daily lives –– something that guests have now come to expect from their hotel stays as well. As the ones providing them with a service, hotels have the power to turn an average stay into an excellent one. And the better their experience, the more likely they are to refer you to others. 

How to improve the hotel guest experience?

There are some tried and tested ways that you can really enhance your guests’ experience during their stay. From high-tech updates to simple personal touches, think about how you could introduce these into your business model.

Get in contact pre-arrival

Staying in a hotel can feel like a pretty anonymous experience –– but it doesn’t have to be. Many guests have new COVID-related concerns. It’s important to reassure your guests that you’re taking care of them in every way possible by making them aware of new cleaning procedures and COVID protocols. 

Setting up a pre-arrival automated  text message can really go a long way in making your guests feel welcomed. In fact, studies show guests prefer text messages to any other form of communication.

It could just be a simple hello and introduction, or maybe provide answers to some frequently asked questions guests usually have before check-in. Perhaps you could also personalize the message for different guests, whether they’re business travelers, families, or repeat guests or follow instructions on how to write welcome message for your hotel guests

Streamline points of contact

There’s nothing more annoying than not being able to get help when you need it. It’s important to invest time and money into your communication service with guests, before, during, and after their stay. Consider your clientele and how they might prefer to communicate. 

Older guests may be more comfortable with a telephone system in the hotel to get in touch with management, or a dedicated helpline number. But younger, more tech-savvy guests could find an app or messaging service much more useful. 

Streamlined, effortless communication will always go a long way in impressing customers.

Build up relationships with your neighbors

No matter what industry you’re in, it’s always a good idea to work together with the other businesses in your area. It’s a win-win for everyone involved!

If you’re not already, reach out and get in contact with local vendors and attractions near your hotel. You can direct business to them, while also giving your guests an inside track. If you can arrange for a discount for guests of your hotel, then even better!

Understand your local area

The majority of guests to your hotel won’t know the area at all, so they’re going to need some guidance. Every member of staff in a hotel should have an in-depth understanding of the local area, so that they’re comfortable answering any questions your guests may have. 

Take it up a level by improving on the traditional in-room welcome book with an online knowledge hub. Direct guests to a section of your website or app that will answer any question they could have about the local area. 

Provide good Wi-Fi

No hotel worth their salt should be denying their guests internet access. Moreover, it should be fast and it should definitely be free. 

Free Wi-Fi is an absolute must. Whether people are traveling for work or fun, they need internet access. Unless you’re on a remote island or in the wilderness, a slow connection is unforgivable. Your guests will appreciate a fast and free connection more than most other things you could offer them. 

Provide each guest with clear and detailed instructions on how to connect –– on a board in the lobby, on the inside door to your room, or printed on every room key. 

Think about your in-room amenities

Obviously, every hotel room needs a bed and a bathroom. But take some time to think about the unique touches you can add to your rooms that will really make your guests feel comfortable. 

Things like phone chargers, Bluetooth speakers, snacks and drinks, reading material, a deck of cards, and plants or flowers will help set you apart from other hotels. 

One thing guests always appreciate is a TV that they can plug their own cords or devices like a Firestick into. It’s the little things!

And of course, always be sure everything is working properly before every guest’s stay. 

Ask guests if they’re celebrating something

Often people will stay in a hotel for a birthday or anniversary celebration –– and you should join in the fun! Introduce a feature where guests can let you know if they’re there for a special reason when they make a booking. Then you can have champagne or a treat waiting in their room on arrival.

That’s a thoughtful touch that will really make your guests feel satisfied they’ve booked into the right hotel. 

Automate check in and check out

Offering a guest experience that reduces face-to-face interaction can help reassure travellers that are reluctant to stay in hotels after COVID. Technology like contactless check-ins and digital keys can help ease their worries.

These days anything can be done with an app. So why shouldn’t the same be done for hotel check-ins? Especially if they’ve been traveling all day, guests should have the option of being able to check-in independently the second they arrive at the hotel, rather than waiting in lengthy lines in the lobby. 

Some hotels have even implemented smart computer kiosks, like the ones you see at the airline when checking into a flight.

Of course, not everyone prefers an app to a human interaction, but the choice of a self-automated check-in process would be appreciated by a lot of your guests. 

Offer early check-in

The thought of arriving in a new city after a long journey, and having to fill three hours of dead time before your hotel begins check-in is daunting. Offering early check-in for guests who require it is a huge drawcard for some travelers. 

Obviously, this isn’t always an option, especially during peak holiday times. But if early check-in simply isn’t possible, maybe you can offer guests complimentary food or drinks at your hotel (or a nearby cafe) while they wait. 

It’s all about making your guests as comfortable as you possibly can, to improve their overall hotel experience. 

Reach out for feedback

Bill Gates once said: “Your most unhappy customers are your greatest source of learning”. If you reach out to your guests during their stay and ask them to fill out an in-stay survey you can get a barometer for your overall guest satisfaction level. And if they’re unhappy, you still have a chance to change their experience from bad to good. 

You can do this with a simple survey and automated message. Take the opportunity to also ask guests to leave reviews on sites like Facebook, Google Travel, and Trip Advisor. As you surely already know, these have huge sway with travelers choosing where to book.

It’s important to respond to any negative reviews on these sites, as well. Reassure guests that any issues they encountered were one-off occurrences, or that you’re working hard to rectify the problems they’ve raised. 

Personalize their visit

People like to hear their name. It’s been scientifically shown that when people are called by their name, dopamine and serotonin (the feel-good hormones) are released into the brain causing a rush of happiness or excitement. 

Train your staff to always address people by their name during interactions, and chances are your guests will, even subconsciously, have a more positive outlook on their stay.

Other ways to personalize your guests’ visit is to check in beforehand to see if they have any particular dietary needs or other requirements. You could even get in touch the morning of their check-in, offer them a range of different drinks they can choose from, and have it ready on arrival. 

Small personal touches can have a huge impact, and make their visit with you a much more memorable one. 

How to improve your guest experience using technology

Trying to implement all these changes can seem like a lot to take on, especially if you’re short on manpower due to the pandemic induced staff shortages. Luckily, there are tools that can make things a lot easier –– technology is completely changing the face of hotel guest experiences for the better!

HelloShift is all about helping hotels give their guests the best possible stay. Our app makes digitizing your hotel operations painless and straightforward, streamlining everything into a simple central location – for staff and guests alike. Here is what hoteliers can expect when they use HelloShift:

Guest Messaging

Our app isn’t just for behind-the-scenes operations. It also has a feature for guest messaging, which lets you have a two-way conversation with your guests before they even check-in. 

Not only can you send them updates and important information the day of their arrival, but guests can also easily log any questions, issues, or complaints during their stay.

Their messages flow into the staff interface, where your team members can immediately respond to their query. For many, it’s a lot easier than having to call down or visit reception in-person. 

There’s even built-in AI software that can respond to FAQs with pre-formatted answers. 

Website Chat

Setting up a real-time chat box on your website can save a lot of time and stress for your staff and your guests. It’s definitely a lot easier to reply to chat alerts in the HelloShift software, than it is to get 100 emails a day with simple questions from visitors. 

These potential guests want answers immediately, without having to find your contact page or wait on hold. Integrate your website with the HelloShift software, and then can chat with the front desk with one click. They can then continue the conversation through text messages, phone conversations, and email – whatever the guest wants.

Staff Collaboration

Gone are the days of walkie-talkies or pen and paper. HelloShift has an internal messaging platform which is intuitive and easy-to-use, where staff can collaborate and share information. 

But it’s not just about leaving updates or sharing handover notes. The task management software allows you to set recurring notifications and checklists for the front desk, housekeeping, or maintenance teams. 

There’s an inbuilt calendar for events, shift changes, and meetings. Staff can receive alerts on their phone or email, and management can easily @-alert everyone with important information. 

The whole communication process is streamlined into one place, making sure that nothing essential ever falls through the cracks. 

Housekeeping Management 

One of the trickiest things about hotel management –– and one of the most important to get right –– is housekeeping. HelloShift has stellar management software for keeping track of everything related to housekeeping in your hotel. 

In one view, you can see the status of every room in the property, which rooms have been assigned and prioritized, and which rooms still need to be assigned. With drag-and-drop functions and bulk-reassignment tools, it’ll turn housekeeping management from a headache to a breeze. 

Similarly, the Preventative Maintenance portal on HelloShift allows you to easily maintain rooms and assets with recurring checklists and custom inspections. Measure, log, and manage custom readings for things like the pool, boiler, and spa, to make sure nothing is missed or left behind. 

HelloShift is providing the tools to help hotels of all sizes move from pen-and-paper, or walkie-talkie operations, to become fully digital. The hotel management software incorporates housekeeping management, guest messaging, and hotel task management, in one easy-to-use platform — streamlining the entire operation.

Transform your hotel into a digital hotel. Enable guests to text your hotel and pre-checkin, empower staff with staff collaboration, and schedule room cleaning efficiently.

HelloShift News

Let's get to know each other more