What Customers Want from Hotels in 2022
Hopefully, wherever you are in the world, you are seeing an increase in the number of people travelling as we move towards 2022.
When days are busy with managing your business operations it is natural to spend less time at the computer, and even less time thinking about how easy it is for your potential customers to actually find you.
This is however the perfect moment to visit your website as if you are a customer landing on it for the first time.
Before potential customers become your hotel guests, they are just people searching for a break. Their motivations are endless, but they are usually defined on a primary level by location, budget, and the room requirements of their group type.
Once those filters have been applied, your potential customer will probably still have more than a handful of options in front of them that meet their criteria.
What is the main factor that will convince them to stay longer on your site, and eventually click on that Book Now button?
Customers want simplicity.
The last 18 months have generated so much stress that, to differing degrees, we are all suffering from mental overload. Anything that makes our lives easier, that means we don’t have to assert so much thinking energy, is welcome, very welcome.
A complex home page, that doesn’t make finding the information the customer is looking for easy, is just going to see an increase in their bounce rate.
Bounce rate, together with the average session duration (the average time people spend on your website), are two of the most important factors that Google’s ubiquitous algorithm uses when deciding how to rate and rank your website.
Getting people to stay longer on your site exponentially increases the possibility that they are going to book with you. So, to get them to stay longer we have to make their experience as seamless and intuitive as possible.
Visit your site as a customer, and consider what simplicity means to them.
Reducing the number of packages and rates that you offer often goes against the desire to make sure there is something for everyone.
However, the best customer service (and therefore the best reviews and recommendations) is generated when your offer is aligned with the needs of your guest.
This requires that you really know your customer, or at the very least that you are really clear on what sort of customer you want to attract.
Ask yourself who your property best serves? There is NO point in accepting families with small children if you don’t want them to make noise or don’t actually have any child-friendly installations.
Start by identifying their pain points, get clear on your own value proposition and how you best serve your customers, and then design products that meet those needs in a smooth and simple manner.
If you want to learn more, my short course on content creation for hotels kicks off with an in-depth view of how to define your value proposition and your ideal customer profiles. Find out more about The Ultimate Content Creation Framework for Hotels, Lodges, B&Bs, and Hostels here.
Get intentional about limiting the number of packages and options that you offer so that your potential customer can clearly find the one that suits them. Keep your standard offer to two or three packages that meet their immediate needs.
From there, make the page they see after clicking on the package or rate that suits them, as succinct and clear as possible.
One way to differentiate simplicity from boring-old-standard, is to allow for some customisation as your potential customer moves through the process.
When you do the work to really understand the needs and desires of your customer profiles, you will begin to pick up on words, phrases, and questions that they frequently ask.
If you insert this language into your website copy and offer answers to the concerns and needs they might have, you are definitely onto a winner.
An example of this is if your website visitor clicked on the family package, make sure that on the next page there is information such as “our pool is fenced for child safety”, and “child-friendly portions are available at the restaurant”, as well as details about the number of children who can stay for free, and any additional crib or bed charges.
By reducing the need to search for the answers to frequently asked questions such as these, you immediately reduce mental load.
In alignment with the easy-to-understand packages options, it is important to make sure you have a transparent and consistent pricing, reservation, and cancellation policy.
ALL customers want to know they have the option to cancel without penalty. It is ok to have the option of a non-refundable rate for people who might be looking to travel within a short booking window, but for all other prices, make sure they can see that a refund, or at the very least, a change of date, is available.
Check out this previous blog to read more about how to update your rate plans.
Getting on top of price parity is one of the building blocks of hotel management. Price parity means assuring your prices are the same across all channels. The lowest price available should – without fail – be the one on your own website.
There is a LOT of industry talk of varying pricing based on loyalty, season, purchase device or location, or which channel a customer books through. This kind of dynamic pricing strategy can increase profit, but it also adds a layer of complexity that has to be managed. Many larger businesses that decide to go with dynamic pricing do so using additional – and paid – online tools that allow them to automate their price fluctuations. For smaller businesses, keeping your own processes streamlined by reducing your offer and making it match your ideal customer profiles is the best way for you to stay sane and to fulfil your guest needs as best you possibly can.
What about other information that customers want in 2022?
Once they decide to buy, the online payment process should be automated, seamless, and frictionless. Even most small properties work with online booking engines nowadays. If you don’t have one, it is time to invest in this service. Connecting to Google’s free hotel booking links is dependent on having an online partner, so for this reason alone it is a good idea.
Customers also want to know that you have Wifi. This information should be upfront and central, and even though it is almost a given that you have it, if you make extra mention that your connection is super speedy and available in all rooms, common areas, and even in the garden, this could also be a plus point over a competitor.
Another important set of information that you can provide to reduce the mental load of your potential customer is about what restrictions and/or requirements are expected for travellers coming to your location.
Add in links to any Passenger Location Forms required for air travel in or out of your country. Link to a private clinic where PCR tests can be taken even when you are not resident in the country.
You can never give too much information. It may not be relevant or of interest for all, but for those who are searching for it, they will appreciate that they find it all in one place on your website. Ultimately it can mean the difference between a click away from your site or a click through to book.
As for your cleaning policies, there is no need to go into major detail anymore, but they should most definitely be visible.
So, congratulations! Your website visitor has converted into a guest. There is still so much you can do to continue to build their trust and make their stay as fulfilling and relaxing as possible. If you have not already seen it, take a look now at the blog “6 Emails You Should Definitely Be Sending to Your Guests”.
Make yourself available and communicate your excitement that they are coming to stay. Make people feel great about their choice. Consider upsells and add-ons but also continue to demonstrate value-added. If you have a family coming, let them know in a mail just a couple of days before that they can pack one less toy because you have a surprise jigsaw puzzle waiting for them to enjoy during their stay and take away when they leave.
Once they arrive, continue to build on the emotional connection you have already set in motion. Share the joy of their break. Find out something about them and then make a suggestion about something to do in your local area based on that information.
Let them in on who you are and what you believe in. Share your community projects and talk about your endeavours to be a little more green. Explain that you don’t have in-room minibars in an effort to reduce unnecessary waste. That your room service for food is limited because there are so many cafés and restaurants that offer local delicacies and whom you want to support after the difficult months we have just experienced. That you chose to remove slippers from your offer because they don’t fit in with your efforts to build a more sustainable supply chain.
If you are interested in doing more for the environment and the generations that follow us, take a look at this blog that gives 5 tips for tourism businesses in the fight against climate change.
So, to conclude, start by getting serious about communicating your value, emotionally connect with you customer using their language and then make it as easy as possible for them to buy what you have on offer.
Reducing the mental load of your customers at every point of their journey is easy to do when you stand back and look at your processes from that perspective. Yes, it takes energy and extra time, but you will see the benefits as guest satisfaction increases and translates into more positive reviews and recommendations.
I wish you luck and I'd love to hear your thoughts on this blog! Scroll right down to the bottom and leave a comment.
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