This is a huge topic mainly because moments that wow and please our guests can include anything from contactless check-in to child-free swimming pool times to vegan food options on the breakfast menu.
We all want to know how to create great guest experiences because ultimately, we want to generate more of them for the very simple reason that they make our customers happy.
Happy customers equal more positive reviews, more recommendations, more returning guests, and more income. And we all want some of that.
So, how do you know when you have provided a great guest experience?
When someone highlights a particular service or amenity in a hotel review, right?
Let's take a look at an example:
“We stayed four nights at Lakeside Hotel. Our room was perfectly lovely, the view was great, and the check-in was fast and friendly.”
Up until here this is a pretty normal review. Not mind blowing but clearly the guest was happy and enjoyed their stay. And then boom! They add this onto the end:
“The homemade foot treatment* was a dream and inspired me to do something for myself for the first time in months” (*DIY recipe below).
“The detail on the menu about where their food comes from, the calorie count, and the CO2 footprint was super interesting”.
“The kids discovery tank at reception is a fantastic idea. It was the most relaxed check-in we have ever had! No sleeve tugging. Thank you!”.
A great guest experience is all about creating magical moments. It is when someone is surprised by something unexpected. Something that added intrinsic value to their stay.
Two things here before we move on.
One. Value is not synonymous with better.
Better is bland. Value means placing attractive add-ons in front of your guests that increase enjoyment and exceed expectations in a way that a flat room discount can never do. Don't look for inspiration by checking out what your competitors are doing. Real value comes from something that makes you happy when you add it to your offer.
Two. What constitutes a magical moment is subjective.
My perceived value of a certain added extra is probably going to be different to yours. Everyone has different needs, so how can you ever get it right?
The secret is in understanding your target market.
I know, I say this a lot.
But there is seriously no successful business in the world who doesn´t completely understand the needs and desires of their regular customers.
I also know you are thinking right now, “But what if I limit myself too much?”, “What if I tailor my offer to a certain group of people only, won´t that alienate the rest?”.
You don't have to cater to just one type of person or profile. You can have two or three. But try to keep it there. Too many and you dilute your service into homogenous mediocrity. There are many successful examples of hotels who do tailor their offer to just one customer profile: bikers, LGBTQ, families, hikers, pet owners, for example.
One of the most useful exercises you can do is to really get to know who you a) best serve, b) want to serve, and c) can serve.
What sort of customer profile seems to be innately attracted to your property?
What sort of people do you resonate with the most? Who do you absolutely love chatting with?
Who does your property set-up work best for? Your existing infrastructure, whether doubles with private bathrooms, or outdoor cabins with family spaces, will help you with this.
By taking time to answer these questions the panic about alienating possible customers will dissipate. This is because your marketing and sales efforts actually require less effort when you are talking to people who you know you can best serve and whom you actually want to serve.
Once you have worked these guest profiles out, get started on isolating examples of when you have provided great guest experiences in the past.
When guests are inspired to share their wow moments with friends and family, you know you are doing something right, so spend some time taking a look over your recent reviews.
Recent is best given the current situation. The concerns and needs of anyone travelling in 2022 are different to pre-pandemic times.
Reviews are so powerful because we only usually share what we absolutely loved, or what we really didn't like.
Thinking in the sense of "moments" really helps. Isolate those reviews that highlight examples of when you exceeded the expectations of your guests.
If you find yourself stuck, only find a couple, or need a little extra inspiration, I highly recommend a fabulous book called “The Power of Moments” that discusses why certain experiences have extraordinary impact.
Find out more here: https://heathbrothers.com/the-power-of-moments/
A final thought, don't get caught up with the belief that “Ah, but we have always done this, it is nothing unique or special to us”. Just because something like fishing for fresh trout and barbecuing them for your guests seems so normal to you, it could still be the most magical experience for your guests.
It might be exactly the unique thing that your customers want, and even better if they don't even know that they want it until you offer it to them.
*Here goes with my extra treat for you 😊 Free recipe link below!
You probably don't know this about me, but I delve into the world of homemade, all-natural, soaps and creams, and it is where I lose myself in a place of childlike creativity. I have perfected a hand cream that has solved my eczema, a body lotion that makes me smile after my morning shower, and a luxurious night cream that makes me feel like I am smashing the wrinkle battle ;)
Last Christmas I created a delightful sweet orange and myrrh hand cream for close friends and family, but this year I took some time to really think about what my girlfriends really need in the depth of winter when we are run off our feet with festive season planning.
A luxurious foot scrub scrub came to mind, so here is what I came up with:
Step 1: Rosemary and Eucalyptus Foot Soak
Step 2: Peppermint Sugar Foot Scrub
Step 3: Lavender and Frankincense Foot Balm
I packed them into small jars so I didn't have to make kilos of everything and wrapped them in fabric to reduce waste.
The whole thing took me a couple of hours, and I shared a lovely “moment” with my visiting father drinking sherry and chatting as he helped me package them up.
The main label was headed up with the question “When was the last time you treated yourself to a foot spa?”, and everyone I gave the gift too, said “Wow, yes, it has been forever, but now I have a reason to do it!”. I created moments for them all that matched a hidden desire to just sit down and feel pampered.
The cost was low as I used products that I had in the house. The packaging was glass, aluminium, fabric, and paper, so I didn't compromise on my own attempts to reduce waste in our home. The result was a labour of love that has been gratefully received.
Why not give these simple recipes a go, and treat your next set of guests to this unexpected indulgence?
You can access the full recipe at this link, where you will also find a FREE face & body sugar scrub recipe, as well as a full soap making tutorial that can be customised for your hotel.
I'd love to see photos of your versions in the Building Tourism Resilience Facebook Group !
If you need a bit more inspiration for learning more about your target market and how to create value for your guests, take a look at this video:
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