Cleanliness, communication, and flexibility have always been hallmarks of great customer service and guest satisfaction, only becoming more important than ever during the COVID-19 pandemic. By committing to these pillars of service, you can continue building a guest experience founded on personal relationships, respect, loyalty, and satisfaction. Here’s how:
While cleanliness has always been a sign of good service, COVID-19 has put immense pressure on housekeeping staff since cleaning measures are strict and time-consuming and accountability and guest expectations are higher than ever.
A mobile housekeeping app allows for the efficiency and accountability necessary to maintain health measures and guest satisfaction during the pandemic. Housekeeping staff can view and update room cleaning status directly from their mobile devices as they work, boosting productivity and streamlining inter-departmental communications. Integration with the front desk also makes check-ins a breeze with room status displayed in real time.
Visible precautions also provide reassurance to guests that sanitization efforts are being constantly conducted throughout their stay (for example, clear barriers at the front desks, staff use of face masks, and visible markers/stickers on recently cleaned high-touch areas).
Digitally connect with guests during a physically disconnected time. Human connection has always been the cornerstone of the hospitality industry, driving guest relationships (with your staff and with the local people and culture), loyalty, and satisfaction. The pandemic created much change for the hospitality industry, from service limitations to social distancing to sanitization expectations and protocols, resulting in uncertain and wary travel bookers. By accurately and clearly communicating these changes and new health measures to past and future guests, hoteliers can assure customers of a safe, personalized, and worry-free stay.
While direct human contact is not realistic or safe in many cases during the pandemic, showing your property’s human side and offering personalized service remains essential. Digital communication, while popular before the pandemic, has now become an essential tool in communicating vital COVID safety information to guests.
Email and Text
During a time of confusion and contradictory news regarding the health crisis and travel, hoteliers can implement clear, direct pre-arrival and check-in communications (via email or text message) to build trust with guests and offer reassurance regarding the status of their booking along with new property protocols.
Guest messaging is a way for properties to maintain personalized communication and assure travelers that their safety and satisfaction are valued. And, by automating digital communications and contactless check-ins, property staff have more time to focus on making each guest’s stay special. The key to highly personalized, yet automated, guest messaging is integrating PMS data with the hotel CRM (customer relationship management), guest messaging solution, or hotel app. Through integration, reservation data from the PMS (including guest data, check-in/out dates, and room and rate types) is used to automatically personalize messages and trigger message delivery at certain times throughout a guest’s stay. Additionally, incoming messages from guests (such as requests and inquiries) can be automatically matched to the guest’s reservation for faster response and resolution times.
Include clear, easy-to-find COVID news and updates related to your property on your property’s website for travelers to review when they book direct.
To eliminate confusion and concerns, as well as manage guest expectations, frequently update your website with current service restrictions, social distancing and mask protocols, limited hours, guest and staff safety precautions, and any other changes made to your business. For example, a well-advertised COVID FAQ page on your website is not only helpful for travelers but emphasizes that you value their questions, concerns, and safety by outlining your property’s changes and health measures. You can also include a link to the FAQ page in your social media account biographies.
Properties often make their first impression on travel bookers through their social media accounts. From directly engaging with customers to sharing posts that feature your property’s COVID-19 story and news, social media is often an untapped resource for hoteliers to reach out to their guest base.
You can address the crisis by providing positive and informative content on your property’s social media, such as highlighting insider tips on self-guided, safe activities and tours to do around your area (hikes, scenic drives, cafés/restaurants that comply with COVID restrictions). Visually demonstrate newly implemented sanitization protocols at your property (clear barriers at the front desk, enhanced housekeeping measures) or share your efforts to support the local community and economy.
This rapidly evolving situation means that constant, accurate communication with your guests is essential in maintaining guest satisfaction and building loyalty and trust. The changing nature of the crisis also requires property owners and staff to be adaptive and flexible in the face of uncertain travel situations. Between canceled flights and hesitant travelers, offering flexible cancellation, refund, and rebooking policies helps ease customers’ worries and lets them know that you’re on their side. Also, where loyalty programs are in place, points and benefits should continue to be collected and applied if a booking is canceled or rebooked because of COVID, and points expiry dates extended in consideration of lockdowns.
Human connection remains vital in maintaining guest relationships and satisfaction in a pandemic era. Although physical connection may not always be possible, digital engagement that promotes cleanliness and flexibility reminds guests that they are valued and supported.