A seamless guest experience begins way before a customer even arrives at the hotel. While personalization is important, it is equally significant to stay ahead in the game by knowing about the guests’ expectations in advance which will allow room to make prior arrangements for that. In the hospitality industry, this is termed as the “pre-arrival” experience.
Before diving deep into the ‘pre-arrival’ mode, it is imperative to know that the customer journey map is divided into three essential touchpoints:
• Check-Out/Post Checkout
Out of these, ‘Pre-arrival’ experience is the first touchpoint that allows you to engage with the guests and gives you the time to know their requirements better. In the customer journey map, this is generally looked upon as the initial or starting phase which allows you to connect better with your guests.
A pre-arrival experience does not begin when the guests arrive at your lobby. Rather, it is the first point of interaction and starts even before a guest has booked with you. Remember before booking, a guest is highly likely to check out your website (information, text, images, videos, reviews, etc.) So a well-maintained and properly updated website is the initial point of engaging with the guests. Again, all the useful information on fingertips will make the booking process faster and this “contact” will fetch you a reservation, which, in turn, will be useful in hosting your clients better.
What Are the Various Categories of Pre-Arrival Touchpoints
1. Booking and Confirmation Email
This will be your first point of contact with the guests. So remember to make it appealing and inquisitive. So, confirm their booking status and give them a warm welcome which should look somewhat like this:
“Hi, Jennifer! Thank you for choosing us. We would like to confirm your reservation at *Arnold World Hotel (hotel name)* between *arrival date* and *departure date*. For more details on your booking, please visit *the URL.* We hope you will enjoy your stay and look forward to welcoming you!”
You can also take this opportunity to ask them if they have any special requests. However, remember not to over-do it in the first go as this might come across as a little bothersome.
2. Sending Relevant Information (amenities, location, what’s happening around, add-on services, breakfast timings, and other details)
It is obvious that your guests would love to know more about you- things you offer, special facilities, what’s happening in your neighborhood, top attractions nearby, value-added services, etc. So sending out a brochure can serve the purpose well. This is one of the great ways to acquaint your guests better with your hotel and the amenities offered before they make their choice.
“Hi, Jennifer! Want to know us a little better? Kindly click on *the URL* below to download our brochure in PDF format directly in your inbox.”
3. Pre-Arrival Questionnaire to Personalize the Experience
A survey or questionnaire would be the most useful thing in the entire cycle of guests’ reservation as it allows to make better and prior arrangements for the guests. Sending them the link to a quick survey would help to know the purpose of their visit which, in turn, will allow you to estimate their preferences a little better. For instance, if it’s a family with a small kid, you can definitely consider the option of having a baby bed with some toys. Again, a pre-arrival questionnaire helps narrow down other preferences like breakfast selection, additional services, etc.
[Note: Remember to keep the survey short as a lengthy questionnaire would prevent the guests from engaging and responding. Again, keep it simple and do not flood it with ornamental words which might just make it look a bit more exaggerated. Also, avoid repetition and put clear-cut questions without stretching a particular factor too much.]
4. A Reminder With Links for the Value Added Services/Upgrades
Your guests will really appreciate you taking a moment to drop in a gentle reminder a day before their scheduled arrival. Once again, you can avail this opportunity to remind them equally about any special requests from their side which can be fulfilled by you to make their stay exciting:
“Hello, Jennifer! Trust you’re doing fine! This is just a gentle reminder regarding your reservation at *hotel name* between *arrival date* and *departure date.* For more upgrades and special services, you can contact us by visiting *the URL.* We are looking forward to your arrival!”
BONUS: Option for a Quick Online Check-In
There is yet another way of providing your guests with a seamless pre-arrival experience. This can be done by allowing them the facility for an online check-in through the phone. This will ensure that they do not have to walk through the doors and go all the way up to the front desk for check-in. In fact, this will expedite the process by making it smooth and hassle-free.
How to Optimize Your Guests’ Pre-Arrival Experience
1. Make Your Website Mobile-Friendly For Unhindered Communication
2. Look For the Options For Automation
An effective tool for guest engagement will have its own magic and such integration will save your staff from getting overburdened. So investing in a good automated solution will help ease the problem to a great extent. In fact, investing in a WebChat or WebText Feature is essential as it will help interact with potential clients, answer questions, provide a guide with the bookings, manage bookings and customer relationships, and finally will leave you enough time and prerogative to prepare for an incredible booking experience.
3. Upsell Strategically
4. Customize Your Communication and Even More if it is a Repeat Customer
Customization of experience becomes easier if you have the record or data about your previous guests. While having an excellent PMS works wonders, you can integrate it further with an automated solution that will give some incredible and high-end results. This way you will be able to create what is called the ‘brand loyalty’ and will be able to fill in the gaps that had remained unfilled during the previous stay of a particular customer. Again, this will give you the chance to personalize the interaction and customize their overall experience. And guess what? This is beneficial for the entire reservation cycle of the guests as it does not simply limit itself to the pre-arrival phase.
For instance, if your guest had requested for a room switch in the past owing to the excessive noise which you were not able to accommodate for some reason at that point, you can surely keep a record of this and give them the option of a better and more peaceful room this time which again,will be entirely their choice. But doing so can definitely add a personal touch to the entire experience. You can ping them up via the text a day or two before their arrival, asking their room preference.
Pre-arrival experience is an essential touchpoint and needless to say, it is one of the foremost phases in the guest cycle which leaves the hotelier with a golden chance to appease his/her customers to the fullest even before they check-in. Text Messaging at this stage has the power of its own and can yield wonderful results in establishing and upkeeping a flawless communication with the guests. Integrating your existing PMS with an automated solution will allow you to know your customers better and in turn, will help enhance not only their pre-arrival experience but even the mid-stay and post-checkout experiences.