With the rise of the ‘ shared economy’ in the hospitality industry- Airbnb pioneering it, it’s becoming even tougher for hotels to get bookings. Competition in the hospitality industry is 3x more than it was two years back. Know how to gain a competitive advantage over your competition by improving the one thing you have control over, your customer experience.
With the holidays approaching, John decided to look up for hotels at their holiday destination, the Bahamas, before prices hike up. He clicked at a popular hotel’s website and was welcomed by the beautiful scenery of some holiday pictures.
The navigation bar was well laid out. He could navigate through the homepage, accommodation, facilities and contact page. A direct line was available if he needed to talk to a hotel representative.
He called on the number to ask whether they had ramp walks for the disabled and was received by a warm, kind, welcoming voice. The hotel had ramp walks. John found that suitable for his disabled elder son and booked two rooms for his whole family.
At the hotel, they were well received by smiling receptionists who were friendly and ready to help out with any problems they faced during their stay. As a norm, them being guests, they were given a box of chocolate as a kind gesture.
Let’s take a look at how you can improve your ‘John’s’ experience in this digital era.
- Take advantage of 360° images
We are visual beings. People tend to remember things they see rather than read.
Think about it, wouldn’t you rather watch a well-thought-out company video rather than read through pages of vision and mission statement.
Same goes with the hospitality industry, instead of highlighting your hotel’s features captivate your customers with 360° images.
Capture your audience’s attention using high quality 360° images.
Display your gallery in 360° format. Give them a shot at experiencing what your hotel has to offer before booking. With the images being exciting and interactive they create a lasting impression on the audience and trigger positive emotions.
A point to note though, high-quality images tend to slow down websites and affect their performance. With the help of a content delivery network, you can avert this.
In this digital era being generic in how you address your audience will cost you. People demand personalization.
What is personalization?
It’s the action of designing or producing something to meet someone’s individual requirements.
Picture this, after watching a National Geographic video on YouTube, below it there are videos recommended similar to the one you just watched. That’s personalization.
Here are simple ways you can personalize with your audience
- Run retargeting ads. These are ads shown to an audience based on how they interacted with your website. They viewed your website and skimmed through your booking page without booking a room. You can run retargeting ads on Facebook or Google targeting those specific people and offer them let’s say a 20% offer on their first booking.
- Following up on them through email is vital. During their booking, they identified some activities they would take part in. you can write them an email highlighting what they would need to carry for all the activities. During the write-up, address them with their name. You can add more personalization according to the information you have of your audience, it can range from their location, the number of people booked for etc.
- Create a mobile-friendly site or app
Your hotel’s website is the most important touchpoint a customer has with your hotel. Most people spend their time on their mobile phones whether going through social apps (Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter) or going through the best holiday destinations. Optimize your website to be mobile-friendly to avoid the risk of plummeting site views and escalated bounce rates.
- Using chatbots
A chatbot is a piece of software that conducts a conversation via auditory or textual methods. Such programs are often designed to convincingly simulate how a human would behave as a conversational partner. Hotels can offer chatbots as another medium of communication customers can use apart from calling a direct line.
You can feed in answers to the most common questions customers ask into the chatbot, and the answers will be triggered once a user asks a question.
For example, a customer might ask the chatbot “what’s the cheapest room”. The chatbot will deliver an answer because you already preinstalled the answers into it.
All this is done to ease the customer journey and improve their experience with your site with the end goal of deciding to book with you.
Back to John, with the stiff competition in the hospitality industry, a lot of hotels and other stakeholders would fight for John’s eyeballs (not literally).
Strive to capture your audiences’ attention by using 360° images and strategically drive them to book with you through personalization, chatbots and a mobile-friendly site.