Want a happy guest? Then don’t pay attention to the Guest!!

pubslished on
April 11th, 2022
category
Hospitality Operations

Guest makes a booking. He or she arrives, checks in, uses the hotel facilities, and finally checks out.

In hospitality lingo, we term this the guest journey. And it’s been by and large unchanged from the time hotels started off as simple inns.

Today there’s an inordinate emphasis on “digitizing” or “transforming” this experience.

Does it mean that if every hotel has contactless check-in/check-out, electronic room controls to manage room and room appliances, electronic ordering and reservation in restaurants and spa’s and similar contactless experiences, that we have done Digital transformation and all guests in such hotels are going to be super happy ??

We all know that is not true.

For one, OTA’s, Government regulations and existing hotel infrastructure – both physical and electronic – add to the challenges in providing a seamless experience.

However, more importantly, to truly succeed, a hotel needs to be well oiled internally. Internal processes that are properly thought through, automated to the maximum extent, where everything is closely monitored and where manual processes are totally frowned upon – have a higher chance of transforming the “Guest Journey”. Hotels that have looked inwards tend to be very well run, and being well run, the guest feels the intangible effect instantly.

However, when budgets are being drawn up, owners and in many cases, hotel managements, frown on spending to digitize internal processes. The logic seems to be that the hotel has been running like this for years without very many issues. So why spend now? And so, most of the budget ends up being spent on room equipment and on guest touch points.

In many hotels, the most popular tool that is used to manage Internal Operations is WhatsApp or LINE or Telegram or some form of free messaging tool. There is nothing more comforting to hotel staff than using WhatsApp or similar tools. No training required.

And better still, most of the stuff goes under the radar. No recording mechanism. No transparency. So unless you really screw up badly, chances are that no one will ever know what happened. Everything is buried deep inside a WhatsApp conversation.

The best way to provide quality service is if it starts internally. Automation of all internal manual processes (even if there is no direct guest touch point), excellent training infrastructure and investment on keeping the staff happy ultimately goes a long way in keeping the guest happy and in driving staff loyalty.

Your hotel facilities will end up being well managed, staff will be more engaged and happy, and the net result will be a significant drop in complaints. However, since there is no direct way of measuring guest satisfaction for all these kinds of automation, most hotels just don’t bother.

Digital transformation as far as the hotel guest is concerned has been so abused in recent times that we have lost touch with our roots. Which is, the quality of the hotel infrastructure, staff engagement and seamless operational processes — these are what help transform the “guest journey”. The internal journey defines the guest journey.

It’s counter intuitive.

I would go so far as to say that the internal journey, in many ways, is far more important than the guest journey. Because, if you have the first, you automatically have the second. Period.