Companies in the hospitality industry are shifting from “high-touch” to “high-tech,” which changes not only the way these businesses operate, but also how they serve their guests or customers.
And most of the change revolves around communication.
Communication isn’t sexy. It’s not wearable or innovative. But if you fail to communicate effectively, you’re going to fail as a business — no matter what.
Communication should alleviate all the confusion in the consumer’s mind. It should define your brand and support the expectations of your guests, who’ve come to your business to celebrate joyous events or experience something new.
Never lose sight of how important communication is when implementing technology into your business. To ensure a seamless transition, as technology ushers in changes, I suggest the following:
- Listen to your guests.Good communication always starts with listening. Take the time to really listen — not just hear— what guests are saying about your services (and the services of competitors). That information can provide insights into how you can deliver even better solutions.
But don’t stop there. Enlist the help of your guest-facing employees. Ask them to observe guest reactions to the services you already provide, as well as reactions to any services that are changing. You’ll often discover not only what works, but also what you need to rethink and why.
- Do your research.Make sure what you plan to offer will meet the needs of your guests. Don’t just implement technology for technology’s sake. Otherwise, you’ll be spending money on a flash in the pan rather than something that enhances the guest experience. It must make sense.
For example, installing self-service check-in kiosks for guests may seem convenient, but it will reduce face-to-face time with staff, which can lower guest satisfaction. If you cater to leisure as opposed to business, the technology could have a negative impact on return bookings. Understand the implications before making the investment.
- Consider its intuitiveness.Need is one thing; intuitiveness is on another level. Whenever implementing tech, keep the user in mind. Let’s say, for instance, you decide to try keyless entry via mobile devices. This must be intuitive for all guests, not just those under a certain age.
Besides guests, think of how staff might use your innovations. Training will help, but the hospitality industry is notorious for its high turnover rate, coming in at just over 66 percent as of 2014. Employees must be able to pick up tech quickly so they can instruct guests.
- Seek regular feedback.Sometimes, you just need to ask guests what they think about the new technology. Request that guest-facing employees ask what guests think of the new tech when they check out. Or send them an email survey a few days after their stay. Just make sure you’re asking the opinions of your guests.
But don’t use feedback as merely research. Act on it. It’s the only way to truly improve the guest experience. If you’re moving toward smart controls for your rooms, where guests can set room temperatures or order food prior to their visits, use their feedback to make it right.
No one frequents a business just because of some newfangled wearable technology. Communication will always win the day with your target audience, and it’s up to you to keep your visitors engaged by doing it well.
Want to talk more about how your business can benefit from stronger communication?
Shea Davis is a senior vice president at Mitchell, an award-winning public relations firm that creates real conversations between people, businesses, and brands through strategic insights, customized conversations, and consumer engagement. The agency is headquartered in Fayetteville, Arkansas, with offices in Chicago and New York City. Shea’s focus is on brand reputation for the hospitality and travel industries.