A wealth of data
There are a large number of reservations moving through hotels every year. This means that there is a wealth of data available to the hotelier. They simply need to be willing to put the time into analyzing it. With the powerful reporting tools available through a hotel’s distribution channels, PMS, and booking engine, it’s easy to spot booking trends and begin rate forecasting. But what about the data that walks out the door after each checkout? Every guest that stays at a hotel has a wealth of knowledge. Only a fraction of them are willing to share, but when they do, it typically comes in the form of a review. TripAdvisor and Yelp have some analytical tools to track these reviews, but they are limited to what they ask or stuck behind additional paywalls. So what can hoteliers do to collect more of this data and use it to improve their hotel and the guest experience?
It is fairly simple
It’s relatively simple, start conducting guest surveys after checkout. Simple questionnaires can be made using many free tools like SurveyMonkey. All of these have a variety of analytical tools that can help identify trends, weak spots, and opportunities available to the hotelier. Useful surveys are going to be quick, with short and specific questions. So when developing the questions, target particular areas of the hotel that are of interest. Focus on Check-In/Out Service, Housekeeping, or any other specific amenity the hotel may feature.
Getting the guest to take the surveys
The hard part is getting the guest to take the surveys. Traditional techniques have been including links to the surveys in post-stay emails, but that is just the start. A kiosk using an inexpensive computer or tablet can be set up in the lobby, encouraging guests to leave their comments. For the guests that are in a rush and cannot stop to fill out the survey in the lobby can use a QR code to scan and take the survey on their phone on the way to the airport. Like any anonymous review or feedback system, there will always be the risk of fraudulent submissions. To help combat this, ask for a unique identifier from their reservation. This can be an email address or even their reservation number. This can help to sort the data later to the real information and leave out any erroneous entries. But even the best survey still needs to be taken to be effective, and getting guests to leave reviews online is difficult enough, so incentivizing the process may be necessary. The go-to method here is to offer a discount on a future stay, but depending on the type of traveler, they may not have their next trip or vacation planned, so they may not see the value in this type of incentive. Alternatively, a hotel could offer a discount on the departing reservation once the survey has been completed. Depending on rates and turn costs, 10% off a single night stay can be very attractive to the guests without drastically impacting the hotel’s revenue.
The data that these surveys can collect can be extremely valuable if used properly. Any setup costs and discounts that may have been offered will be quickly offset by the potential boost in occupancy and revenue that can come from improving neglected areas and services highlighted in these surveys.