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How to increase guest satisfaction in hotels

  Posted in Resources  Last updated 5/07/2024

What is guest satisfaction?

Guest satisfaction is the cornerstone of a thriving hotel business, reflecting how well your property meets or exceeds the expectations of its guests. It relies upon the quality of service, cleanliness, comfort, and overall guest experience

Guest satisfaction in a hotel can often be quickly evaluated by the feedback you receive, either online or in person. Online reviews, in particular, can help you see if guests are satisfied and how you can improve based on what they liked and disliked about their stay.

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Why is guest satisfaction important?

Guest satisfaction is pivotal to the success of any hotel as it directly impacts a hotel’s reputation, revenue, and long-term growth. A satisfied guest is more likely to book a return stay, and also recommend your property to their friends, family, and peers. The more business you can generate from existing guests, the more healthy your business will be in the long run, since you’ll be able to spend less on marketing and forecast more accurately.

However, if guests don’t feel connected to your brand, they could still be ruled by price, location or facilities next time they choose to book a stay. You need to connect with them emotionally to generate a meaningful experience that will resonate.

This emotional connection can turn a satisfied guest into a loyal one, who not only returns but also advocates for your hotel, sharing their positive interactions with others and enhancing your brand’s visibility and appeal. Focusing on guest satisfaction goes beyond providing excellent service – it’s about creating memories that foster loyalty and drive business growth.

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The impact of hotel culture on guest satisfaction

Building your hotel culture to reflect that of the local community may go a long way to securing your property more bookings. Being able to stand out from the competition is a rare and powerful trait if your hotel is able to manage it.

There are certainly some guests who prefer their hotel to be like a ‘home away from home’, but many more are looking for something new, authentic, and engaging. Recent times have seen the rise of wellness travel and experience-based trips that focus on the entire destination, not just a hotel and its rooms. A service like Airbnb is generally entrenched within local culture and it’s something hotels should be looking towards as they strive for bookings.

Depending on the property, the ways to achieve a greater affinity with the local community may vary and it’s a complicated process to find the right balance between providing luxury and giving guests a thorough connection to local culture. The question seems to be; is it more important for guests to connect with your brand, or the culture in which your brand is situated?

It must be noted your hotel should reflect the culture, not exploit it, because people will be able to tell the difference and the last thing you want to do is alienate guests with an insensitive experience. 

Some brands are already doing this to varying degrees. Ritz-Carlton uses local food trucks on its premises while in New York. Roger Smith brings local shopping straight to guests with pop-up stores. And there are other, more extreme, examples across the world where the balance is tipped in favour of authenticity over brand character – but for the most part this is what guests expect.

If guests check into a hotel in China and it feels the same as a hotel in Sydney, they’d be entitled to feel disappointed. Every hotel – even in a chain – should have a sense of its own charm based upon its location. It’s not only about catering to incoming traffic but also assimilating and feeling a part of the surrounding community.

How a cultural connection can help hotels with guest satisfaction

All travellers, even many business travellers will appreciate a taste of local flavour. The first step is to let the culture of your destination shape the design and decor of your hotel.

This way, your guests won’t feel like they’ve flown thousands of kilometres to sleep in the same city as the one they left. If your hotel is surrounded by the iconic architecture, your hotel should feel the same, be it sweeping high ceilings or intricately woven corridors. If travellers are comparing this with another, more generic property it’s obvious what they’ll choose.

Hotels can also create ‘culture’ packages that give guests the experience of local cuisine, combined with visits to local shows and attractions that will immerse and educate them in a manner that can’t be emulated anywhere else.

Enriching your hotel culture with local influence can only lead to guest satisfaction and host satisfaction alike and doing so will keep you in line with the progressive movements of the industry as a whole.

guest satisfaction

How to measure guest satisfaction

Measuring guest satisfaction is key to understanding and enhancing the guest experience at your hotel. One common method is through Customer Satisfaction Scores (CSAT), collected via post-stay surveys where guests rate their experience on a scale from 1 to 5. Scores of 4 or higher indicate positive sentiment. Other important metrics include the Net Promoter Score (NPS), which measures the likelihood of guests recommending your hotel, and online reviews on platforms like TripAdvisor and Google. 

You can also gather feedback through in-room tablets, mobile apps, email surveys, and direct interactions with guests. Analysing this feedback helps identify areas for improvement, train staff accordingly, and implement changes to enhance service quality. Regularly monitoring and responding to guest feedback fosters loyalty, encourages repeat visits, and drives positive online reviews, ultimately boosting your hotel’s reputation and revenue.

Examples of guest satisfaction survey questions to ask in your hotel

“Satisfaction” can be quite hard to pin down a precise definition of in the hotel industry. Every guest has different things that satisfy them, after all. However, there are a few consistent areas – and questions – that will provide any hotel with insight into what’s working well and what needs improvement.

  • What was the reason for your visit?
  • Were you alone or in a group?
  • Why did you choose this hotel?
  • How did you book your stay with us?
  • Were the staff friendly and helpful?
  • Did the staff respond quickly?
  • Was your room comfortable and clean?
  • Did you eat at the hotel?
  • How would you rate the hotel food?
  • Do you think that the hotel provides value for money?
  • Overall were you satisfied, dissatisfied or neither?
  • How likely are you to stay at this hotel again?
  • How likely are you to recommend this hotel?
  • What can we do to improve our service?

How to increase guest satisfaction in hotels

In essence, guest engagement at your hotel will be achieved through making the guest feel a certain way when they interact with your products and services. Feelings, emotions – they run the world and they’re especially important to travellers.

A successful hotel business is one that builds trust within travellers and clearly outlines what the customers will expect – and delivers every time. Only then will guests become loyal, repeat customers.

Taking a trip is usually a very exciting event that people will be happy and upbeat about. To maintain that feeling, travellers will have very specific desires for what their vacation will include – and much of it centres around personalised experience, whether it be at the front desk or when looking for help from a hotel staff member.

This is where your business needs to ensure it’s catching the eye of guests, and fulfilling the emotional sensation they want from their hotel stay.

Here are the most proven ways to improve hotel guest satisfaction that should work wherever your hotel is located in the world…

1. Use consistent messaging in your hotel marketing

This is quite similar to online dating. It’s one thing to say you’re fun and witty, but it’s another to be that personality in reality and deliver true customer satisfaction.

Consistency is the most important thing when building trust. Setting expectations is one thing, but staying true to them time after time is another. If you can achieve it, guests won’t want to look elsewhere because they get everything they need from your property.

If your brand strategy online is to be fun, youthful, colourful, and exciting this is how your hotel customer service must appear when guests arrive. If travellers are greeted by monotone staff, stock-standard rooms, no special events, and mediocre amenities, they’ll be especially disappointed because you haven’t delivered on the promise that you hooked them with.

Setting false expectations is the worst thing you can do. It reduces trust, amplifies negative experiences, and erodes engagement. Be realistic about your current and future offering and make sure what the guest sees before they stay is at least the same as they experience during the stay and in real time.

The same rules apply even between online channels. Your website and social media accounts for instance should not be too far removed from each other, lest you risk alienating audiences who visit one and not the other, or are confused about your messaging after visiting both. While they are different platforms and need to be customised to a degree, your brand identity should be immediately recognisable on both across all devices including mobile technology. 

This attitude towards consistency must extend across all levels of your business. From your website, to social media, to the way you engage with guests in person, your brand values have to shine through. Guests will quickly see through you when only talk the talk, and don’t walk the walk.

Here are some tips on how to build a killer brand.

2. Communicate and build relationships as early as possible

The sooner you can engage with your guests the better. Before they arrive for their trip they’ll be excited as anticipation builds in the weeks leading up to it. During this time they’ll be happy to hear from you. Take the opportunity to send emails saying you look forward to their stay, local area guides or tips, discount offers on additional services etc.

Communication can often feel like a burden to guests, with multiple steps to go through just to get answers or make requests. You can make it much easier by reaching out to guests as soon as they book. Use your existing hotel technology to send an email or message asking for feedback on the reservation process, if there’s anything they want to know, or any special requests they’d like to make prior to their arrival for their hotel room.

It’s this added convenience and consideration that will make guests feel appreciated and it sets up a much smoother hotel stay for them, and your hotel as a host.

Knowing what a guest needs before they step into your property is extremely valuable within the hospitality industry, so data collection should be a priority.

The same principles apply while the guest is at your hotel. If they feel like they need to jump through hoops or go out of their way to find help or submit feedback, frustration will quickly grow. Keep in mind guests may be from out-of-town, or from another country, and will need more help than a local would.

Making hotel technology your friend will really help. If communication is as easy as sending a text or in-app message to hotel staff, guests will be much more likely to do so.

Anything you can do to help them before they even arrive will put your guests in a good frame of mind and allow them to think positively when recalling your property. A good online booking engine for your hotel’s website can facilitate your pre- and post-stay communication with your guests.

Take a look at these ideas to create healthy lines of communication with guests.

3. Obsess over your guests

You have to give to receive, love to be loved, treat others as you would have them treat you. There are many nice sentiments here and they all ring true for hotel guest engagement.

For travellers staying at your property, it’s nice to feel wanted. In fact, they’ll expect you to make them feel like the most important person in the building and it’s exactly what you should be doing.

Whenever you greet a guest it should seem like you’re genuinely happy to see them and enjoy talking to them, even if they’re making a complaint!

You need to listen to your guests intently and show them you understand. Talking about the weather is easily digestible but not memorable conversation. Ask questions but don’t interrupt them, and do your best to attend to their needs quickly.

This means empowering your staff to act independently to solve guest enquiries and go the extra mile to make guests feel special. If you evoke those warm fuzzy feelings, your guests will only be too happy to reward you in turn.

Look at it this way:

  • If they like you, they’ll consider returning to you instead of a competitor
  • If they love you, they’ll probably book a return stay and leave a review of your hotel
  • If they’re obsessed with you, they’ll become regular guests and share your hotel experience with friends and family

In the case of your hotel, it will become easier if you surprise your guests with personalised offers and extras. Surprises let your guests know you care, because you have done something you didn’t have to do and offered more than they were seeking in the first place.

Ultimately improved guest satisfaction will lead to more vital reviews, more social sharing, and more bookings for your hotel to deliver direct revenue and a stronger bottom line.

4. Let your hotel website make the early moves

Obviously one of the first experiences a guest has with your hotel will be via the website. You should create a mobile-friendly website that offers visual appeal and social proof of the experience that they will enjoy at your hotel. Aim for fast site speeds and incorporate valuable content into every page of the site, as well as ‘Book Now’ buttons where possible.

If your website does a good job, travellers will have already formed a positive opinion about your hotel before they ever stay there.

5. Don’t leave guests hanging

When people send an email or fill in a form, they want and expect a timely response. It’s a reasonable request that you contact them the same day or at most within 24 hours. Any longer than that is inexcusable to a guest and they’ll have found a better option in the meantime. A request or complaint left unresolved can spell disaster for a hotel’s reputation.

6. Cater for all guests

Obviously many guests at your hotel will be from other countries and continents. Many of them will not speak the same native tongue as you and may find it difficult to communicate effectively.

To make things easier for them, it’s important your website and booking engine are multilingual and equipped to handle currency conversions. This will mean international guests won’t have to ask as many questions and can enjoy a smoother booking experience, while you will also have less work on your plate.

Obviously many guests at your hotel will be from other countries and continents. Many of them will not speak the same native tongue as you and may find it difficult to communicate effectively.

To make things easier for them, it’s important your website and booking engine are multilingual and equipped to handle currency conversions. This will mean international guests won’t have to ask as many questions and can enjoy a smoother booking experience, while you will also have less work on your plate.

7. Look for hotel staff with a high EQ

Recruit emotionally intelligent staff with high emotional quotient. Include empathy and thoughtfulness in your requirements to outline your expectations. Ask referees how the candidate demonstrated kindness or diffused a fraught situation.

During interviews, ask candidates how they would deal with customers facing a long check-in queue or broken elevator. Pay particular attention to their demeanour and conversation style. Do they seem genuine? Do they have a warm smile? Do they hold eye contact? Minor details are sometimes the most important.

8. Personalise your approach with guests

In training, establish the use of names as a protocol, for staff and guests. Staff should always introduce themselves by their first name on the telephone, and address guests by their title and surname directly and in conversation with other staff, for example “Max could you show Mr and Mrs Cooper to their room?” Never refer to the guest by room number.

Encourage staff to personalise their welcome. “You must be pleased to get out of that rain, I’ll get someone to take your coat,” or “Would you like a hot drink sent to your room in a few minutes?”.

Go the extra mile with personalisation and prepare extra touches. Find out the purpose of a traveller’s stay and prepare their room accordingly. A box of toys for a young family, champagne for a couple of newlyweds or extra stationary for a business traveller will be appreciated. Remember to let them know you’ve organised it for them specifically, otherwise they’ll think these items are in every room.

9. Encourage staff to speak to guests

If possible, group staff according to friendship groups. Some organisations will separate friends as they will chat, but in a front-of-house environment, especially on the front desk, a strong rapport between colleagues will draw customers in. Like a breakfast radio show, the banter between two friends provides an engaging bit of theatre and warmth. Don’t let this go too far though, it’s not a comedy show.

Encourage staff to leave the desk when it’s quiet and circulate around the public areas, asking guests how they’re enjoying their stay and just generally being friendly and approachable.

10. Keep track of your guests’ preferences

Log any of a guest’s likes or dislikes on the booking system, so there’s a record of it next time they book. This is important if they complained about or especially enjoyed something. If possible, make a note of the purpose of their trip – a family wedding or child’s graduation – and this can be a talking point if they visit again.

Really look after regular guests. If they have asked for extra towels or a particular newspaper previously, ensure that they are provided, but again draw their attention to this extra special touch by mentioning it when they book in – “And we’ve made sure you’ve got a couple of extra towels this time…” – or having them delivered after they’ve settled in the room.

11. Respond on social media

Follow your handle on Instagram assiduously. When guests mention your hotel, add a comment and thank them. If someone complains (more likely on Facebook, Twitter or TripAdvisor) apologise publicly and move it to a private conversation as soon as you can. Always find a solution. It’s how you deal with the complaint that will resonate, not what went wrong in the first place.

12. Get guest satisfaction feedback

The check out experience is just as crucial as check-in. A fond farewell is as important as a warm welcome. Ask how your guest’s stay went with open questions, never “Was everything ok?”. Ask about their onward journey or return home and suggest an activity for their next visit – “Next time we’ll book you on the Buckingham Palace tour, it’s a shame you couldn’t squeeze that in this week.”

Once you realise how lasting an emotional connection is for your guests, promoting loyalty and return stays at your hotel will be much easier.

Guest satisfaction quotes to inspire hoteliers

The number one driver of success for a competitive hotel is the drive of the hotel managers and owners around guest satisfaction – whether that’s dedication to enhancing guest satisfaction using property management software for Airbnb, or mastering your own direct booking efforts. Without passion and commitment, all the technology and processes in the world will fall flat.

Here are a few inspirational quotes about guest satisfaction directly from our own customers:

“Our service is personal, cosy, and intimate, providing warm luxury to guests. We believe in the importance of details and a soft touch of personalisation to create a memorable experience for our guests.” – Nira Caledonia.

“Little details can make a big difference. Attentive and friendly staff contribute significantly to a positive guest experience. And offering personalised services such as remembering preferences for pillows or room temperature to tailor experiences goes a long way.” – Golden Lisbon Hotel.

“To me, a great guest experience is more than just a comfortable stay; it’s about creating unforgettable moments and forming a genuine connection with each individual who walks through our doors,” explained Pawarisa. “A great guest experience is marked by personalised service, attention to detail, and a commitment to exceeding expectations.” – Chatrium Hotels and Residences.

By Dean Elphick

Dean is the Senior Content Marketing Specialist of SiteMinder, the leading technology provider delivering hoteliers unbeatable revenue results. Dean has made writing and creating content his passion for the entirety of his professional life, which includes more than six years at SiteMinder. Through content, Dean aims to provide education, inspiration, assistance and value for accommodation businesses looking to improve the way they run their operations achieve their goals.

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