A guest’s experience doesn’t begin after checking in with your hotel, but it starts right when they interact with your hospitality business for the first time. Understanding guests’ preferences pre-arrival is a fundamental touchpoint to giving them a good experience.
A hotel business like yours should embrace powerful strategies to promote a pre-arrival experience for the customers, rather than waiting to offer them services when they physically arrive at your hotel premises.
Guests’ experiences are of utmost importance for hotel businesses, and there are ways to improve them right at the initial touchpoint, i.e., pre-arrival.
You will find seven ways to determine your guests’ preferences pre-arrival for them to have a good stay experience.
7 Ways to Improve the Pre-Arrival Experience for Guests
You need to be creative with your ideas, but still, you have to follow the ground rules when you are seeking the pre-arrival attention of your guests. So, here are the seven fundamental ways, with a creative touch, to master your pre-arrival strategy:
1. Send an Appealing Confirmation Email on Successful Booking
The first direct point of interaction between your hotel and guest will be through an email when you send them the booking update.
People mostly neglect the booking confirmation emails by taking screenshots to show you at the check-in counters. But, it is your job to get a better response from your guests than expected.
Make the email more welcoming and let your guests know their special requests (if any) will be arranged before they check-in. You shouldn’t overdo your confirmation email as well. It is because if it is way beyond your guests’ patience to read and respond, then they will simply close it, and your email won’t have an impact.
Keep it short yet appealing! Ask your email marketing team to follow this instruction, and your first interaction will be sorted. By using an optimal hotel CRM solution for your hospitality business, you will have the feasibility to track click rates or open rates on your emails.
2. Send a Link to Pre-Arrival Questionnaire
In the next step, you should count on setting up a pre-arrival questionnaire for your guests. Send a link to them through text message or email, and let them know why this survey is essential for them and for you to enhance their experience.
Let your guests know that you are keen to make all prior arrangements as per their needs before arrival. Some of the things you should ask in this questionnaire include:
- Purpose of visit
- Baby bed or toy preferences
- Breakfast preferences
- Spa preferences
- Tour guide preferences
- Additional service preferences
While you prepare the questionnaire, make sure to keep it short. Moreover, give options to some questions that let them answer in one word or just by checking a box. A lengthy survey might trigger them to leave it in the middle without even submitting the already answered questions.
3. Keep Your Guests Aware Of What To Expect
If any construction or renovation work is in progress on your property for which some additional services are unavailable, inform customers beforehand. Set the guests’ expectations right, and don’t let them spoil after they check-in with you.
Some of the information that you must provide your guests before their arrival to set the right expectations are:
- Check-in and Check-out time
- Rates for valet
- Temporary shutdown of swimming pool, spa services, gym, etc.
You can preferably add anything else to this list that you think will surprise the guests if they are not aware of it before their arrival.
4. Remind Them About The Value Added Upgrades/Services
It always impresses the guests when hotels ask for an upgrade to their room choice at a minimal price increase, a day or two before arrival. If the price seems nominal, they will surely take the option, and you will have a good reputation in the minds of your guests for proposing this deal.
You should also personalize upsells and remind your guests about such value-added services, which might be of interest to them. Don’t force your services on them; instead, just propose your offers to them and let them be flexible to decide whether they want to avail those services themselves or not. Hence, this is one effective way to have your guests’ preferences pre-arrival.
5. Treat Your Repeat Customers As VIPs
Addressing loyal customers with special attention will help you permanently win a positive reputation for your hotel. Return guests feel special when hotels thank them for their loyalty with special offers or concerns.
You might have to implement customer segmentation as “new guests” and “repeat guests”. This way, the pre-arrival email you send to your repeat guests should be different from what you send to your new guests.
If possible, get your General Manager onboard to write an email to return guests to make a very noticeable impact. As you are already aware of some of the pre-arrival preferences of your repeat guests, you can confirm with them and make necessary arrangements. You can ask for confirmation through an appealing email a couple of days before their arrival.
6. Show Them Your Availability For Attending Guest Issues
Everything you do as part of your attempt to acquire your guests’ preferences pre-arrival will be conveyed or processed through email. So, make sure you are timing your emails well!
This particular email to show your availability 24/7 on premises for attending to guest issues can be merged with the reminder email for value-added services. The merging of two email contexts should be strategic and seem like a good blend.
Through this email, you will indicate to your guests that their real-time and on-site feedback is important at any point in time throughout the day. Assure them that their problems will be solved as soon as possible. Leave a contact name, number, and email address for them to reach out to, in case of any issues.
7. Keep Your Website Mobile-Friendly
Your new guests, who booked their stay through your direct channel or online travel agencies (OTAs), will definitely scroll through your website to learn more about what you offer.
And, it is evident that people searching for information on mobile phones is more common than on desktops or laptops. So, it is better to have a mobile-optimized website to enhance your guests’ pre-arrival experience.
As you are all aware of what you must do to acquire your guests’ preferences before they arrive, it is time to implement them into action. Don’t just do it in the peak holiday seasons, but throughout the year.
Be impartial while treating guests, irrespective of what services they offer or what room type they choose. Every guest should be treated with an equal approach when they book with you. Your pre-arrival strategies should not be biased towards any specific booking type and must be open to all.
Keep customizing your communication by tracking the response of your guests to different emails. Pre-arrival experience can make or break your business. If you get their attention at this initial phase, you will have a better scope of offering them quality services at mid-stay and check-out/post-check-out touchpoints.
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