For an industry that’s renowned for its ability to deliver white glove, high-touch human service, hospitality’s shift to contactless operations has been an inspiration for other industries navigating the Covid-19 pandemic. Their quick pivot to high-quality, low-touch customer experiences has proved highly influential for all brands adapting to keep their doors open, especially when you consider the challenges hospitality workers have overcome to maintain operations in undeniably stressful circumstances.
Indeed, as consumers overwhelmingly adopted contactless commerce in 2020, hospitality businesses drew upon what had been a steady but progressive shift to contactless operations pre-pandemic, to cater to their guests’ needs. In this five-part blog series, inspired by the recent report: 5 Contactless Hotel Technology Trends for 2021, we will explore the overwhelming benefits that contactless technology is giving hotels and other hospitality brands, as well as how these businesses can leverage them as an extension and enhancement to human-focused hospitality in 2021 and beyond.
In this first installment, we’ll dive deep into trend #1, and focus on the value of contactless tech as a powerful tool for gathering real-time feedback, with the ability to lead to more satisfied guests and better service in the future.
Addressing a Long-standing Pain Point in Hospitality
Gathering customer feedback is an integral part of every service business’ marketing strategy. But for a competitive industry that’s heavily affected by very public guest reviews and online rankings, actionable feedback is imperative for success, and encouraging guests to share their thoughts sooner than later has become an area of focus for hoteliers.
However, our “2019 Guest Service Report” found that only 25 percent of guests report any issue that impacts their guest experience. This is certainly a worrying trend for hotel staff known to work overtime to uplevel service in this age of experience, yet still often find themselves in the dark when it comes to service issues that impact delivery. Because as we know, guest satisfaction is highly dependent on effective guest service, and successful service recovery, a hotel’s ability to capture valuable guest experience signals and gain actionable insight, has become mission critical.
After all, limited visibility into the guest experience means limited opportunities for hotel staff to course correct the guest’s perception of the business before they leave the property. Worse yet, it leaves a risk that any unreported issues that arise during one guest’s stay remain unresolved for future guests, turning what may have been a simple problem to solve into negative brand associations and potentially, a damaging online review.
With stats showing that 88% of travelers filter out hotels with an average rating of below three, and 79% will read at least six to 12 TripAdvisor reviews before choosing a hotel, it’s vital that hoteliers are given the opportunity to limit problems to the best of their ability. (Of course, mistakes are inevitable in the service industry, especially today when staff are often balancing fewer resources and less bandwidth). The most effective way of mitigating these risks, or quickly resolving issues when they arise, is undoubtedly by helping guests communicate on their terms.
Facilitating Two-Way Conversations with Touchless Communication
The promising news is that this surge in the adoption of contactless technologies since Covid-19 has opened up more opportunities for hotels to not only interact with guests, but monitor their feedback pulse at all stages of their customer journey. Importantly, it has also allowed them to do so while keeping both staff and guests safe and socially distanced.
For example, with text and popular social messaging apps like Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp, hotels can automate post-check-in messages to make sure they have everything they need and invite them to text staff with any questions and requests that may arise throughout their stay. While in Covid times this limits the need for in-person interactions, post-pandemic, its value lies in how it empowers staff to own the relationship, gauge how their guests are feeling in the moment, and identify and fix any issues that might be hindering their experience.
After all, service recovery has become an imperative component of every hotel’s guest strategy due to its ability to create long-term brand advocates. In fact, 87% of American consumers report at least sometimes feeling more emotionally connected to a brand after it solves a problem for them.
Of course, let’s also mention the fact that contactless tech can have a huge impact on stress and workload, helping staff to streamline responses to common requests and freeing them up to be present for more personal interactions with guests. This in turn helps hotels resolve what has been a longstanding pain point for the entire industry — instigating two-way conversations with guests and encouraging feedback — all whilst enhancing their entire operations and opening up more opportunities to delight guests and keep them coming back.
Welcoming Every Chance to Enhance Guest Service
Of course, hotels’ ability to streamline service contributes to their guests’ satisfaction. But it also introduces them to new digital channels that make it easier for them to communicate from afar, something that’s proving to be key in this age of ever-changing expectations and heightening demands for top-notch customer service at every touchpoint.
As we dive deeper into the myriad roles of contactless technology for hotels in 2021, check back soon for our second blog installment in which we will explore Trend #2 with a look at how guest messaging will stitch together an omnichannel customer journey, and why this trend is proving to be a game changer.