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The guest journey

If hotels make sure that all aspects of the guest journey exceed expectations and desires, this will result in substantial benefits; by getting more loyal guests, more positive reviews which of course results in more revenue. (who doesn’t want that?)

The keywords in this process are personalization, customization and innovation, all spiced up with a little unexpected pleasant surprise.

Currently almost the entire process is focussed on Bringing in the Money. Nothing wrong with that, but where are the guest’s needs in this process?

Imagine you’re me, a businesswoman with little spare time and you need to attend a two day conference in Barcelona next week. You already booked a flight and now you are about to book a hotel room for your stay. Hoping to combine it with a little bit of me-time.

So here your guest journey begins:

Step 1: Travel intent and booking your stay

You know what you are looking for: a nice hotel, situated in the centre, close to the metro station, near the beach and with a good restaurant around the corner (and hell ya maybe a glance at a massage in your spare time, because you deserve it). You enter your travelling data and preferences on a booking engine. Oh gosh, ‘only’ 362 accommodations found. You’re completely overwhelmed by choice stress and decide to call your best friend.

You remember she had a nice stay in Barcelona last year, so you ask her which hotel she stayed in. You enter the name of the hotel. The pictures look nice, the price is alright, the reviews are ok, so you decide to go for it. The fact that you have to walk 20 minutes to get to the metro, you take for granted. The same goes for the fact that the hotel is not at all close to the beach. Well, the weather might not be so bright as they are predicting it to be and who knows if you’ll have time to relax anyway. (So you immediately forget about the massage idea too)

We believe a guest shouldn’t settle for less. We believe that by implementing future technology it should be like this: you once enter all your preferences (yesss including the nice massage) in and outside the hotel, the travelling data and then the perfect match rolls out. Ok, maybe a bit more than one. But no 362 options. Not at all.

Step 2: The actual reservation

You enter all your personal data and your creditcard number. If all goes well, you’ll find a confirmation of the reservation in your email. Watch out, because this is where bookkeeping takes over.

Step 3: The booking confirmation

The hotel “thanks you for your reservation and is delighted to welcome you next Thursday.”

Everything after that sentence reminds you of the rules, limitations and administration of the hotel.

You can check in after 3 PM. That’s a pity. Your plane lands at 9.30 AM and your conference starts at 2 PM. It would have been nice if you could have checked in earlier, so that you had been able to refresh yourself and leave your luggage. Instead you just take that “little but still in your way” suitcase with you to the conference.

We understand that as a hotelier, you want to make sure that a room is cleaned before a guest checks in. It’s obvious that not all rooms can be cleaned at 11.00 AM, but really not all of them are dirty until that sacred moment the sweet girl comes down at 3PM to tell front office she just finished cleaning her rooms. Implementing an affordable technology system offers you a clear overview of the rooms’ status and enables housekeepers to instantly update their work on a mobile device.

An early check in would have made a huge difference and nowadays it’s just possible. (that sweet girl can confirm that)

Step 4: Checking in

After a long day of travelling and attending several interesting speeches, you feel exhausted. You can’t wait to get to your hotel room. It’s such a shame you have to stand in line for the check-in counter. And then, when it’s your turn, you have to fill in some personal data, show your passport and give your credit card number…. Again.

Software systems deliver various alternatives to facilitate the checking in. Even in smaller, independent hotels, where you rarely have to stand in a line for over 10 minutes, guests can benefit by some kind of technology during the procedure.

Step 5: Your hotel room

Finally you can get yourself comfortable. You visualize taking a nice hot bath and then flop in bed and watch your latest Netflix obsession on your room’s big television. Sounds like a no-brainer, right? Unfortunately, the big screen isn’t a smart TV and there’s no dongle to be found. There is a landline phone, a large wardrobe and an alarm clock that you actually weren’t in desperate need of.

Step 6: Checkout

On your departure day you find a number of people who are standing in line in front of the reception desk in order to check out. On your way you catch a glimpse of the breakfast area. Wow, this is what they call a full breakfast buffet. Your hungry feeling is cranked up by the lovely smell that’s coming out of the restaurant. It’s a shame, you are running out of time. It’s for sure that you can’t arrive at the congress too late. You realize it is smarter to grab a piece of fruit and go, instead of sitting down and enjoying your breakfast. On your way to the metro station you take a bite of your 18 euro-banana and you realize that you would have loved to be accompanied by a latte to go….

Step 7: Post-stay

The day after you got home, you find a nice email from the hotel in your inbox. They are still very grateful you chose to stay with them and kindly ask you to leave a review on Tripadvisor and social media profiles. You don’t know yet. Maybe tomorrow.

With this story we tried to make you realize that from a hotelier’s point of view you didn’t do anything wrong: Your staff was very friendly, the room was clean, the amenities were great, and the food you served was excellent. But still your service did not exactly meet nor exceed my desires. Personalization, customization and innovation, remember?

We hope that you just had your aha-moment and that, like us, you believe that with making the guest experience number one priority, we can reinvent the hotel industry. We believe that if we work together, we can.

Therefore we would like you to join us on our next brainstorm event on WTM & Hoteltech.

But we have to warn you. You have to expect the unexpected. Because as you might have heard…. We believe that the comfort zone is fully booked….

See you soon!

Rachida Naya

CEO – FLOW