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How to design a perfect guest experience in the pre-arrival phase

This blog is part 2 of a 5 part Covid-19 recovery series which provides detailed recommendations on what hoteliers can do to recover from this crisis. This series covers the entire guest experience and journey.  If you missed the first part you can read the blog by clicking on this link.

Hotels are trying their best to reposition their property to attract more and more travelers. It is important that they prepare themselves for all the stages of the guest lifecycle. 

A guest journey begins even before the guest has arrived at the property. Interaction with guests in this pre-arrival phase can prove to be helpful. The more you interact with the guest, the more you learn about that guest. As a result, you will know exactly what kind of experience a guest is looking for.

Here is why hotels need to focus on guest experience in the pre-arrival phase

First touch point with guests: Booking confirmation email by hotel is usually the first communication with the guest. This is exactly the stage where you start building a good relationship. It creates an impression that you are actually concerned about them.

Improved guest experience: Collecting preferences from guests before they arrive can definitely help hotels tailor their offerings. It enables more personalized communications and rich on-site experiences. It helps hotels exceed expectations and win guest loyalty.

Image displaying online checkin

Segment guests and offer services that are relevant to them based on type of traveler, demographic, historical, and preference data. For instance, it would be more relevant to offer a family of four information about the roof-top yoga session or information about the private pool timings than to offer a romantic dinner for two.

Additional revenue through upsells: You need not wait for the guest to arrive at the property to pitch upgrades and cross-sells. This all can be done even before they arrive through email or a  mobile concierge. Cross-selling and up-selling can be done for services like spa treatments, vouchers for restaurants, special services in room, leisure activities etc.

Here is how you can design a perfect guest experience

1. Send personalized booking confirmation email

Hotels must send a personalized booking confirmation preferably by the general manager. You can customize the email in case it is a repeat booking. The email can have details like booking ID and arrival and departure date. 

Hotels can also communicate the safety measures being taken in the property to assure travelers of their healthy and productive stay. This is the first platform to interact with your guests. This interaction can definitely set the tone of the subsequent interactions and reviews.

Booking confirmation email screenshot

2. Send a pre-arrival email 24-48 hours prior to arrival This email can serve variety of purposes:

Offer Self check-in Allow guests to check-in from their smartphones. Hotels can also request guests to upload their IDs at the same time. This reduces wait time at the front desk after their long tiresome journey. Also, it ensures minimum touch with the hotel staff.

Collect preferences from guests Wouldn’t it be great if hotels know about guest expectations in advance? What kind of cuisine they prefer or what extra arrangements they might need? Hotels can collect guest preferences from guests during the check-in process. Knowing the likes and dislikes of the guests leads to improved guest experience.

Preference collection window screenshot

Health Declaration It has become of high importance to collect health declarations from the guests some hours before the arrival. This can provide information about the guest’s current health status and history and ensure safety of other guests and staff.

Health declaration window snapshot

3. Offer upsells and upgrades

According to a report, 98% of  upsell revenue is generated through pre-arrival emails. Hotels can send upsells through booking confirmation email and pre-arrival emails. They can display room upgrades or facilities like airport transfer, spa, and dining offers.

Booking confirmation email has a very high open rate of 60-70 % as guests like to check confirmation from the hotel. It is a chance for guests to find all the necessary information in one place. With this email, you get a golden opportunity to promote your other relevant services. Details of early check-in and late check-out offers can be mentioned here in this email.

 4. Mobile concierge

A mobile concierge is a web-based app where guests can see all the information about the property and local attractions. Guests can also scroll through upgrades and upsells offered by the hotel.. Displaying the upgrades on concierge does not even feel like a hotel trying to sell its services desperately. It is important to display a limited period discount if the guest chooses to book the upsells before they arrive.

How can hotels prepare themselves to offer enhanced guest experience?

Mobile optimized website

One of the pre-requisites for an excellent guest experience during the pre-arrival phase is to have a mobile-friendly website. With mobile phones becoming the most used tool for bookings, it is necessary to ensure that the website, all the landing pages, and email communications are mobile optimized.

-It offers a super user experience, simplified browsing, and booking experience.

-It helps guests avail all the information they want even when they are on the go.

-They can now book services quicker.

Automation

 Hotels can use hospitality-specific tech solutions for guest engagement. This can prove to be very beneficial for you as a hotelier as it saves time and automation also reduces the chances of error.

The entire guest communication from booking confirmation email to pre-arrival email to mobile concierge can be automated by integrating your PMS with a hotel specific CRM.

You can also automate your feedback collection process.

Every guest has different needs. You can use a powerful CRM to create guest persona. You can make guest segments like business travelers, couple travelers, family travelers, or foreign guests and personalize the communication. You will also know if you get a repeat booking. You already know the preferences, you know the history of the spends done by guests during the previous trip, you have the opportunity to tailor the guest experience and exceed the expectations by customizing all the communications.

You are a hotelier and it is your business to serve your guests. The success of your operations and profitability correlates to the guest experience you provide. Hence, it must not be overlooked at any stage of the guest journey.

If you are wondering for a start, if you want ideas on how to get bookings in the first place, you may read Part 1 of this series what hotels should do to increase bookings in the COVID-19 recovery phase

Find out more about how to automate guest engagement and enhance guest experience


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