The guest experience within a hotel should not be random, it should be tailored and every touchpoint carefully thought through and designed to create the best, most memorable experiences for guests. As a hotelier and Hospitality Management Student, it is crucial for you to understand this journey and the glue that holds it all together.
What is a Guest Experience Journey
A Guest Experience Journey is a collection of touchpoints. That is within the physical walls of the hotel and not. A touchpoint is an interaction between the guest and the hotel, virtually via the phone, email, or physically in the hotel at the reception or the bar.
Every guest will go through an individual journey with the hotel and have a different experience from another guest. If the Guest Journey is designed appropriately, every guest is supposed to have a different, individually catered experience. A leisure traveller is not like a single business traveller nor like a group conference delegate.
The 5 Stages of Guest Experience Journey
The Guest Experience Journey has 5 different distinct stages: pre-arrival, arrival, stay, departure, and post-stay.
Any contact the guest has with your hotel before entering through its doors. It stretches as far back as the dream phrase and research to anticipation on travel to the hotel. You may or may not directly communicate with the guest before their arrival, but they will consider the confirmation booking email and any pre-stay reminders as the hotel’s communication with them.
Arrival will start at the airport if the guest is being picked up by the hotel services, otherwise, the arrival usually starts as the guest first see the exterior of the hotel. This is followed by the welcome at the hotel by the doorman and/or the front office team members. The check-in experience is a very important opportunity to make a great first impression on the guest so that they can feel comfortable, safe, and know that they can rely on you.
During the stay the guest is likely to use some of the hotel amenities, be it the restaurants, gym, pool, concierge services or meeting facilities if they are a business guest. The touchpoints within this part of the stay will hugely depend on the guest, their need and the purpose of their stay. This is typically the largest chunk of their stay timewise, but even if the stay was unsatisfactory, the hotel is still able to significantly improve the overall impression at departure.
The most important touchpoint in the Guest Experience Journey is Departure. If you had one more chance to improve a guest’s stay, why not make the most of it? You can address all their concerns, ensure once again that you are trustworthy and help them with their onward journey. This is the impression they will take home with them, so make sure it counts.
Don’t think that after the guest leaves the hotel, that they are no longer your guest. Systems often automatically send satisfaction surveys to guests a day after check-out. That is you communicating with them, so make sure to respond to their comments and reach out to them if needed.
Did you notice that I consistently stressed the importance of service on the guest experience throughout the journey?
It is important to remember that even the most modern, most flashy hotel in the world cannot provide great hospitality without the people. The People are the key to delivering amazing service and it is they that create memorable interactions for the guests and it is they that can turnaround an unsatisfied guest into a delighted guest that goes on raving about their experience.
What other touchpoints would you add to the five stages? Let me know what you think.