It’s the buzz word of the hospitality industry with hotels, B&Bs and guest houses either harnessing the trend of personalisation or terrified by the perceived price tag associated. For the global hotel chains who are implementing large scale technology-led strategies there certainly can be a hefty cost involved.
However, for boutique hotels, B&Bs and guest houses that scale isn’t needed to create personal touches. After all, intimate experiences are already part of their unique selling points (USPs).
Well, simply put, it’s about creating an unforgettable guest experience that leads people to positively review your property and become advocates of your service.
Adding a personal touch makes a guest feel special and cared for. It creates moments that stand out from other stays they’ve had, and those moments are forefront of mind when they tell their friends and family about their time with you.
The hospitality industry is ever evolving and with it guest expectations continues to grow. Likewise, your opportunity to make a lasting impression on your guests is limited. People are becoming distracted, often experiencing moments via their smartphones first, and so creating content-friendly opportunities that truly stand out is the challenge.
After all, personal touches are most likely to be the thing that triggers a guest to reach for their phone, take a photo or video, and share it with their online network of friends and family. That piece of content is extremely powerful in marketing your property because it makes people think “I want to have that experience too”.
In short, very easily! The first task is to capture as much information as you can when they make their booking. Ensuring you have all guests’ first names is a great start.
You could also ask what the occasion of their stay is, or whether they’ve stayed with you before. Don’t make these mandatory to the booking, just an option for them to tell you a little more about themselves.
Warning: if you ask for too much information you create an expectation, so make sure you only ask if you intend to act!
Then it’s about using that information to create personal touches to their stay. This can be really simple, for example a hand-written personal welcome note, or you can be a little more creative. Remember, the more creative, the more likely you are to create a lasting impression.
Let’s walk through this. A guest makes a booking and lets you know that they’re celebrating their wedding anniversary. Here’s a personalised experience that you could create:
Pre-stay: You send them an email: “Hi Sarah & Peter, we’re so excited for you to stay with us next month in celebration of your anniversary. Did you know the Ballet is on whilst you’re in town? We thought we’d let you know now as tickets are selling fast. We could recommend a great nearby restaurant too so you can make a night of it!”
The result… they’re already getting excited about their stay, and they know you’re thinking about them. You’re setting the tone for a positive guest experience before they even arrive.
You also have an opportunity here to collaborate with local businesses, i.e. if you recommend the show to all of your guests staying that month will they gift you with some tickets in return to either run a competition or ‘treat’ some long-stay guests.
Arrival: They enter their room to an anniversary card from you, the owner, and some flowers in celebration. A beautiful quote about marriage is written on the bathroom mirror and a love song compilation is playing on the sound system – we realise this is very cheesy but it’s thoughtful too!
The result… none of these things cost a huge amount but they give the feeling of a lot of effort being made on their behalf. The flowers and quote on the mirror are almost guaranteed to be photographed and shared whilst the music is a thoughtful touch.
During stay: You see on Instagram that Sarah and Peter are posting photos during their stay. You see they’ve been out hiking so pop a boot tray in to their room.
The result… you’re using social media intelligently. Not to follow their every move but to use this information to cater to their every need. Post-stay you can comment on their photos that you hope they enjoyed their stay and what beautiful pictures, to again prolong the positive experience.
Dependent on the booking systems you use, that information could even be used to remind you the same time next year that their anniversary is coming up so you can get in touch to again remind them that you’re there. Again, subtly of course!
Personalisation can be implemented to various extents but you will find that if you get the model right it can easily be adapted dependent on scenarios. For example, the flowers become chocolates on birthdays or a local souvenir for tourists.
The key is to find a model of personalisation that works for you, this could be as simple as a hand-written welcome note or as extravagant as their favourite snacks on arrival and their favourite music playing in their room… just remember subtlety is key to ensuring the personal touch is thoughtful, not intrusive!