Your hotel’s success comes down to the guest experience you create. Now that travelers are looking for out-of-the-ordinary stays, how can you meet their expectations for something unique? We’re going to take you through what hotel guest experience is, why offering a unique experience to guests matters, and how to find the features that can make your hotel stand out.
What is hotel guest experience?
The guest experience is the result of every interaction your guests have with your hotel — from the moment they first discover it through to any communication you have with them after their stay.
Put simply, guest experience is the overall impression of your hotel that guests end up with. Whether that’s a warm, fuzzy feeling of contentment or an awestruck feeling of wonder, it’s a reflection of the end-to-end experience you offer.
Why creating a unique guest experience matters
Creating a unique guest experience is vital to the success of your hotel because people’s ideas of what a great vacation looks like are evolving.
Of course, there are some baseline requirements that every hotelier must meet to create a positive guest experience. These ‘must-haves’ include a smooth check-in process, a clean room with comfortable furnishings, and prompt, timely service.
However, guests’ expectations have evolved. Now, people view a seamless check-in and comfortable beds as a basic minimum standard. The latest travel trends show that today’s travelers want their stay to be a one-of-a-kind, curated experience, not just a nice place to rest their head.
So, to deliver an exceptional guest experience that makes (and keeps) your hotel attractive to people, you need to go above and beyond. You must offer a stay that truly differentiates you from your competition.
And here’s the good news. As an independent accommodation, your boutique hotel is already primed to deliver something different from the big chains.
Your first step is to identify exactly what that “something different” is…
Ideas to enhance your hotel guest experience
What can make your boutique hotel’s guest experience stand out from the crowd? The list is long, but as a starting point you should be thinking about some of the below areas.
As we’ve established, clean rooms and comfy beds are the bare minimum. What special amenities do you offer guests? This may include:
- spaces like a co-working area, restaurant or pool
- the latest in-room technology like smart TVs, stereo systems and even beer taps
- thoughtful extra touches that make each guest feel welcomed and valued
Consider leveraging what’s unique about where your hotel is located. Is it in a city known for its spectacular events? Is the surrounding area one of outstanding natural beauty? What about the hotel itself? Does it offer amazing views? Is it located on the doorstep of a must-visit destination? Does it have a fascinating history? Just by looking around you, you can unlock what makes your hotel unique.
These can be things that guests can do at your hotel or activities available in the nearby area. Think about your hotel’s location again. People want to get out and about on their vacations. Make it easy for them to surf if you’re near the beach, fish if you’re on the waterfront, or ski if you’re at a mountain resort. Then there are the things you may be able to offer in the hotel. Painting, cooking, wine tasting – the more unique the activity, the better!
Turn the activities you offer at your hotel into must-do events for guests. Have a look at this selection of event ideas for accommodation businesses if you need some inspiration.
The popular attractions near your hotel are likely to have a bearing on your guest’s overall experience. Examples include tours, historic sites, museums, and local landmarks. Leverage these nearby attractions to promote your boutique hotel, or go a step further and form partnerships with their providers. In doing so, you may be able to provide discounted admissions or exclusive tours that help set your hotel apart.
Implementing the right tech can help you wow guests with faster processes and ultra-modern conveniences. Think contactless check-in, hyperfast Wi-Fi and voice control technology that allows guests to adjust everything in their room, from lighting to entertainment, simply by speaking.
More guests want to know that their choice of stay aligns with their ethics and values. So, does your hotel have any sustainable or socially-conscious credentials to show off? Could your stay become a haven of peace and serenity for travelers who are looking for a wellbeing retreat or a digital detox break?
Other ways to identify your unique features
Of course, if your boutique hotel is already established, identify existing features you can use. This is going to be much easier than creating a unique experience from scratch! Think about the things that guests frequently bring up in their reviews. From this, you can start identifying what features to spotlight or areas you should work on to improve the guest experience.
It’s also worth conducting research to get a firm grasp on your current or potential differentiators. Start by researching your competitors. Define your target competitor set: half a dozen competitors that offer a similar service near your hotel. Then run a SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats) analysis to map your comparative advantages and disadvantages.
This analysis allows you to identify key opportunities to stand out. Pay special attention here to the products or services your competitors don’t offer. For example, let’s say you find out that none of your competitors partner with any nearby tourist attractions. This is your opportunity to create a unique partnership. Or maybe none of the competition has the hotel restaurant you do? Then it’s time to start shouting about your delicious on-site meals and terrific ambience!
Drive a great end-to-end guest experience with your hotel PMS
While you’re developing your unique differentiators as a boutique hotel, remember that the guest experience is about the entire end-to-end journey. For this reason, having a strong cloud-based booking and property management platform (PMS) is one of the best ways to improve your hotel’s guest experience. This is because it allows you to elevate interactions at every step.
Here’s what a PMS-powered unique guest experience may look like:
- Guests get the best first impression of your hotel at your stunning website, which is easy to navigate and showcases all your best photos.
- Your website’s booking engine makes it easy for the guest to book and pay for their stay online.
- Guests receive automated guest communications from you at key points throughout their experience. These messages keep them informed, engaged and feeling well looked after.
- Your PMS Channel Manager makes booking through an online travel agency (OTA) just as seamless for guests and helps you to banish overbookings.
- The guest has the option of a contactless check-in because your PMS integrates with your smart lock system for seamless, secure access. This also helps to free up time at the front desk for guests who prefer a traditional in-person check-in.
- All rooms and facilities are spotless on arrival because you’ve used your PMS cleaning dashboard to manage housekeeping duties.
- After their stay, the guest gets an automated feedback request email from your hotel, which inspires them to write you a glowing review. The review comes into your PMS Guest Manager dashboard so you can respond to it efficiently and stay on top of your reputation management.
Best of all, by putting automation tools at the heart of your property management, your PMS gives your team more time to interact with guests face-to-face. This allows you to put more focus back on to the in-person hospitality that ultimately drives the best guest experiences.
Ways to make the most of your unique guest experience
Once you’ve identified the things that can make your hotel’s guest experience extra-special, it’s time to take advantage of them! Here are some ways to do it.
Upsell and create packages
Upselling is where hotels offer guests upgrades or add-ons for an additional cost. It’s a great way to generate extra revenue, and it also shows guests that you’re able to add value to their stay. Here are just a few of the unique features that give you an opportunity to upsell:
- On-premise leisure activities (gym, spa)
- Tickets to partner activities (tours, museums, local attractions, etc.)
- Transport such as car or bike rentals and airport transfers
- Rooms with specific views (mountains, cityscapes, ocean views, etc.)
Your differentiators also give you the chance to create special packages and earn more revenue. If you’ve established any partnerships, then combine your exclusive tour, spa treatments or festival tickets with your existing room rates to create appealing packages.
Why not run package promotions to drive revenue, too? Allow guests to combine the cost of their stay with your unique extras, activities, or experiences, then offer a discount on the combined package. This can help you maintain a higher nightly room rate while increasing the value of your offer to guests.
Use your PMS to easily set up extras and promo packages you can display on your website and/or OTAs.
Offer welcome packs and give recommendations
You want to show your guests you’re going above and beyond for them from the moment they arrive. A welcome pack is a small gesture that can go a long way. It gives your guests some assurance upon arrival that their stay is going to be full of special touches like this one.
Your welcome pack is one place to provide guests with all essential info like instructions, directions and emergency details. It’s also perfect for highlighting your hotel’s unique amenities and any other special features you want to spotlight. And it can house all your recommendations for nearby attractions and activities, too.
To elevate the guest experience even further, send your key info and recommendations to guests before they arrive. You can do this by automating email sends through your PMS. In fact, why not automate personalized guest communications throughout the guest journey? You can enhance the guest experience by automating key interactions throughout, from checking in on guests during their stay to requesting feedback once they’ve left.
Promote your unique qualities online
You’ve got to let travelers know about the amazing guest experience you offer. And that starts online — 68% of all sales in travel and tourism are made on the web!*
Begin by making sure you share your unique qualities on your hotel’s website. There are many ways to do this. Use your ‘About’ page to share your values and your history. Add custom pages that focus on your biggest differentiators. For example, try a standalone page on your partnership with a local attraction, or a page devoted to your most amazing amenity. Above all, include plenty of photos and videos. Beautiful photography and eye-catching footage allows you to show your potential guests what you offer them. And showing is always more effective than telling!
If you accept bookings for your hotel on any other OTA, then take advantage of those listings too. Make sure your listings showcase all your amenities and your proximity to nearby attractions, plus anything else that makes you stand out to the online searcher. And once again, don’t forget about the photos!
You should also consider which OTAs to list on. Some OTAs may be particularly well suited to showcasing your standout features to your target audience. Learn more about picking the right OTAs for your hotel.
Share your unique story with the world
Once your unique guest experience is locked down, look out for opportunities to gain attention for your hotel through press and media coverage. One way to do that is to enter your hotel for industry awards, and highlight your unique qualities in your entries. If you win, you’ll likely garner some positive publicity on top of that nice new trophy for the front desk!
You may also want to reach out to regional press if your hotel has a particularly unique story to share or feature to showcase. If contacting press yourself seems like a lot of effort, consider partnerships that can help you gain press coverage. For example, eviivo Collective is our program for garnering unique, notable and luxury independent accommodations coverage in media outlets from Forbes to the Daily Mail.
How to Create a Unique Guest Experience at Your Boutique Hotel
- The guest experience is the overall impression that people get of your hotel, based on every interaction they have with you, online and in-person.
- Guest expectations around their stay are evolving, so you need to offer a unique guest experience at your hotel to stand out.
- Identify your current or potential differentiators by researching your nearest competition and the things that pop up time and again in guest feedback.
- Your unique differentiators can include any number of things: just a few examples include special amenities, partner deals with local attractions, on-site activities, and running your operations around certain key values or experiences (e.g. wellness, sustainability).
- Once you’ve identified your unique differentiators, start taking advantage of them! Create packages and upsell your stand-out features. Promote your unique qualities on your website and OTA listings. Consider programs like eviivo Collective that help our customers earn press coverage for their properties’ unique features and special stories.
- Remember that hotel guest experience is about every interaction. Use automation and your PMS to deliver a smoother end-to-end guest journey – easier for you, delightful for your visitors.