7 Simple Ways to Personalize the Guest Experience

Today’s travelers seek personalized guest experiences, which in turn require robust, flexible hotel technology. Personalization is no longer a trend—it’s an expectation. However, it doesn’t have to be complicated or expensive. In fact, small, independent lodgings are perfectly positioned to curate individualized stays for their guests. Here are seven simple ways to do it.

Build Guest Profiles

A customized experience starts with guest data. If your property uses an automated property management system (PMS), all the data you need should already be at your fingertips. 

A good PMS allows you to record stay history, contact information, and other details in guest profiles, so you know what makes each person tick. You can also identify repeat guests and treat them with the extra attention they deserve. 

Pay attention to additional details, such as birthdays, anniversaries, and preferences. Any disability accommodations or allergies are particularly important to record. (Anaphylaxis isn’t the anniversary surprise your guest is looking for!) 

Use your PMS to track where bookings are coming from (for example, your online booking engine, OTA channels, repeat guests, etc.) and, therefore, which channels guests prefer. WebRezPro uses market and source codes for this.

Send Regular Communications

Communicate with guests before, during, and after their stay to let them know the logistics, offer additional services, and resolve any issues. Both email and text messages are effective ways to do this, with text messages achieving an open rate of 98 percent. If you’re interested in communicating with guests via text messages, there are a plethora of software integrations to get you started, including Akia, Breezeway, Revinate, and Duve

Though text messaging is taking off, email is still worth pursuing. You can say a lot more in an email than you can in a text. Use templates in your PMS that pull reservation information so that personalized emails are automatically triggered by stay or booking dates and other parameters like room and rate codes. You don’t have time to type and send every email by hand!

Automating communications with your PMS ensures appropriate messaging is sent at the right time, according to each guest’s stage in the stay cycle. For instance, upsells and invitations for special requests can be offered in pre-stay messaging, and feedback requests can be sent post-stay. 

Tailor Packages and Add-ons

Packages and ancillary services add value to your guests’ stay and enhance their experience. Design packages and offer extras that appeal to each of your property’s guest segments. Families with young children may appreciate in-room activity packs while those honeymooners might enjoy a couple’s massage. 

Ask yourself why guests visit you and what sets you apart from the competition. What is your unique selling proposition? Use your packages to showcase your property’s best assets. If you’re having trouble figuring out what those assets are, you can always take a peek at your reviews. For instance, if guests consistently praise your brunch, try a “Brunch and Boat” package (this one works best if you’re on the water). 

Partner with other local businesses and activity providers to offer your guests memorable experiences. Not only does this expand your offerings, it provides cross-marketing opportunities, including quality backlinks. 

Your PMS should offer flexible rate and package management tools that allow you to set up packages and add-ons, sell them online, and limit package access to certain customers. WebRezPro enables guests to select add-ons at time of booking, and staff can also add extras to guest reservations any time.

A smiling guest conveniently checks in on her mobile phone and bypasses the front desk.
Self check-in is more personalized than you might think.

Offer Convenient Self Check-in

Self check-in may seem impersonal, but done right it can make the guest experience much smoother. When they’re dragging themselves through the door after that five-hour flight, the most hospitable thing you can do is get them to their room as quickly as possible for a nap.

This is much easier if details are taken care of beforehand, and they can bypass your front desk entirely. A flexible PMS with the right integrations enables you to collect payment, gather ID and guest registration information, and send guests their keys all before they set foot on the property. 

For contactless check-in, you need digital keys—either codes or apps that let the guest into their room and deactivate automatically at the end of their stay. WebRezPro integrates with multiple software providers for this, including RemoteLock and OpenKey. As a bonus, mobile keys cut down on plastic use at your property. 

Using reservation data, self check-in communications can be personalized to every guest so that they don’t feel like just another number.

Use Guests’ Names

Whether communicating in person, on the phone, or by email/text message, use the guest’s name (first or last as appropriate). This is the simplest and one of the most effective ways to personalize their experience. 

A mobile-optimized PMS like WebRezPro makes name recognition easier by allowing staff to access reservation folios on the go when they might, for example, bump into a guest in the corridor who stops with a special request. 

Using a customer’s name also helps when responding to reviews. It indicates that you recognize there’s a person on the other end of the review, that their positive comments brighten your day and that you take any concerns seriously. 

Leave Handwritten Notes

A handwritten note waiting in the guest’s room is a small personal touch that makes a big impression. A simple sentence welcoming a repeat guest back or inviting a new guest to let you know if they need anything is always appreciated.

Guest profiles enable staff to personalize notes at an even higher level. For instance, you could ask a returning guest to let you know if they’d like you to make reservations at the restaurant they enjoyed last time.

If your budget allows, you can take this one step further and offer a complimentary in-room treat to make guests feel extra special and show them they’re getting good value for their money (chocolates on the pillow are classic for a reason). You can always limit this to repeat guests or loyalty program members. 

Share Insider Tips

Travelers always look for the best spots, so share them, whether in your digital guide or face-to-face at the front desk. Think beyond the main attractions to places off the beaten path. With slow tourism on the rise, travelers are more willing to stroll down the side streets and stop to smell the (mostly metaphorical) roses.

Sharing local knowledge with your guests also creates a personal connection as you talk about your own experiences. Record all the relevant information about their interests in your PMS so that you can proactively personalize their stay next time!  

Personalized service makes guests feel valued and inspires loyalty. Fortunately, independent lodgings are already well-equipped to tailor the guest experience in simple, practical ways with a modern PMS. But remember, while technology plays an important role in personalization, the human element is as crucial as ever.

Editor’s note: This post was last updated in July 2024.