Most hospitality businesses understand the guest need for an experience that is beyond great service and the need to make an emotional connection with their guests and that emotion is the most significant driver of loyalty, revenue and competitive advantage. A plastic card does not purchase a guest's loyalty any more.
Emotions Drive Decisions
The latest research identifies that over 70% of a customer experience is fulfilling the emotional need and this is the key driver of purchasing decisions. So are you spending time and effort on the design, delivery and training of your hotel's emotional package or just on the rational stuff, thinking that the physical product will meet all your guests needs for a memorable experience?
In the hospitality battleground today emotional bonds are the most powerful tools all hoteliers have in their tool box. But many organisations are reluctant to address this.
Creating Emotional Bonds
Every guest interaction is an opportunity for feelings to get better, stay the same or get worse. We have identified some key areas where positive emotional bonds with your guests can be made that bring you return on investment. Guests are less price-sensitive, stay longer, return and recommend when they feel emotionally connected to your hotel at these key moments.
1. Pre arrival
Understanding the reason for their visit and the emotional experience the guest is seeking is vital. Do they seek romance, relaxation, excitement? Do they want to feel liberated, immersed in local culture or hide away? All guests have a specific emotional need for their stay and if you can turn this knowledge into an opportunity to create an emotional moment for the guest with suggestions before arrival to enhance their stay, then a room tailored to their needs this will create feelings of happiness, cared for and valued. Personalise the experience to the guests emotional need.
2. The Welcome
It is so important to recognise the guests emotional state on arrival anad respond sincerely and appropriately. I have frequently observed stressed families greeted with a form to fill in before being allowed to relax in their room. How does this evoke positive emotions? All staff should know how to value returning guests and how to sow you really appreciate their choosing to stay with you again. The Welcome is also an opportunity to demonstrate you have thought about their needs and have some ideas how you can enhance their stay.
3. Complaint Handling
Staff need to be empowered to resolve guest complaints immediately otherwise they feel your hotel is not committed to meeting their needs. Even if the moment is world ending for the guest and immediate and genuine recovery can turn a tragic situation into a magaical one replacing negative emotion of disappointment, frustration or anger perhaps with positive feelings of reassurance, care and delight. Staff need to notice why this is an important issue for the guest, understand their emotional expectations and know how to remove the stress, showing genuine effort to resolve matters. The use of language is important here. Is "No Problem" banned in your hotel vocabulary yet? Replaced with, "Its my pleasure", "We appreciate", "I am happy to". In our training we have a range of guest experience language tools to achieve a positive outcome in any situation.
Does every guest leave feeling valued? How do you show a genuine appreciation of their spending their money with you as they check out? Do you tell them how you look forward to them visiting you again? Departure is a key emotional moment where the guest bond can be strengthened, intelligence gathered to personalise future marketing and that all important fabulous review secured. The end emotion you leave your guests with will be what they remember. If guests have to queue to check out or haggle over room check out time or query the bill or are simple left to slip away unoticed, their will be their lasting memory of your hotel.
Driving business with your Peak and End Emotions
Daniel Kahneman's Peak End Rule is important to mention here so you can carefully craft your guests emotional journey with this in mind. The rule says that we judge any experience by 2 things. How we are at the peak of the experience and whether it got better or worse at the end.
Unless you have a clear vision of your guest's key touchpoints and their emotional needs you won't be able to design memorable meoments that your guests really value. Your guests will experience peak-ends anyway, but will they be the ones you want them to have? And those that drive further business to your hotel?
Train staff to make emotional bonds with guests
Making these emotional bonds are dependent on your staffs' emotional intelligence skills, particularly using the power of empathy to recognise how a guest is feeling. Their ability to recognise an opportunity to create a sincere marvellous memory is vital. These skills are included in our guest experience training.
Now is the time to identify the emotional package that will drive most value to your bottom line.
Design the emotional path for your guests and train your staff on identifying, anticipating and meeting guest's emotional needs to deliver a truly personalised and positively memorable guest experience.
Our guest experience masterclass videos give further tips on emotionally engaging your team and your guests at 8 different stages of the Guest Experience Journey.