When you think of high-touch service, you typically envision a large number of attentive hoteliers, diligently serving their guests’ needs and requests.
But high-touch service is more than just being attentiveness. The true goal is knowing what guests want exactly when – or even before – they know they want it themselves. Today, hoteliers have the key hiding in plain sight: guest data. As hotels increasingly adopt mobile technology, they can record more and more of their guests’ habits, preferences, sentiments, purchases, and custom requests. This data can then be used to tailor the guest experience to better meet each individual guests’ needs and wishes.
But how do you anticipate guests’ wants?
Take the luxurious Hotel Corallo Sorrento: A historic independent 4-star hotel with stunning views of the Gulf of Naples, Mount Vesuvius, and the Sorrentine peninsula. Originally built in 1910, the Hotel Corallo quickly became a popular meeting point for artists and intellectuals, including the renowned Italian dramatist, Luigi Pirandello.
Today, the hotel complements its timeless setting with a philosophy of guest engagement that marries a passionate devotion to service, with detailed granular data on the guest experience. While the Hotel Corallo might resemble more of a classic Italian villa than a hub of advanced technology, it nevertheless utilizes advanced data analytics to create a seamless guest journey. By analyzing numerous guest surveys and overarching trends in guest satisfaction, Hotel Corallo is able to make nuanced and impactful changes to their guests’ experience. This in turn has fueled the hotel’s success, boosting ADR, online reputation, and overall guest satisfaction.
The mastermind behind this high-tech/ high-touch strategy is Antonello Assante, the General Manager for the Hotel Corallo. As Assante, puts it, “The culture of our hotel is completely focused on the guest. Our goal is quite simply to provide each guest with the perfect stay, by putting the guest at the heart of all of our operations while on site.”
Assante is no stranger to data analytics: He often runs individual A/B tests to improve guest experience, while also analyzing longer term trends to see what guests are talking about over a period of months. He uses this information to inform everything from investment decisions to mattress purchases. The hyper focus on both the little details and the big picture has enabled Hotel Corallo to increase ADR by 20%, overbooked at $600/ night and maintain a 95% positive online reputation (based on ReviewPro’s Global Review Index– more on that later).
How is this achieved? First, with a relentless focus on in-stay surveys, in which staff are encouraged to personally respond to issues in real-time. Then there’s a clear post-stay survey which is used to further inform guest experience improvements as well as improve online reviews. Finally, Assante utilizes detailed online reputation management to review guest feedback from sources around the web, ultimately influencing top-level policies and spending decisions.
In practice, Assante ensures that staff are equipped with strategies for solving guests’ immediate issues while being able to route feedback into longterm improvements that can be made on an operational level. But ultimately, the key to all of these efforts is action: Using the data to ensure that staff can take the right actions at the right time.
Acting on granular data with a modern approach to guest surveys
There’s nothing inherently new about the ubiquitous guest survey. Hotels have been using them to gauge guest feedback for ages. But when surveys are combined with mobile technology and data analytics, they become an unparalleled tool for understanding guest satisfaction.
Assante and the Hotel Corallo team utilize a two-pronged approach to their guest surveys, employing both an in-stay survey sent out the night the guest arrives, and then a post-stay survey sent immediately after the guest checks out. Staff are trained to act immediately on responses to the in-stay surveys, and to notify Assante personally if there are guests who express any level of dissatisfaction. At the Hotel Corallo, guest feedback – especially negative feedback – is viewed as an opportunity to improve service, and in Assante’s words, “make the guest’s stay unforgettable.” With this in mind, “complaints are an opportunity to help. We do this by putting the guest at the heart of operations while still on site, because once they have gone, we cannot change their experience.”
The hotel’s in-stay survey asks only one simple question, but it cuts to the heart of the guest experience: “How is your stay so far?” Most guests only respond if they have an issue or request, immediately creating a golden opportunity for in-service recovery. Once an issue is known, it’s then crucial that staff respond in a timely manner. And when a guest fills out an in-stay survey, Assante is personally notified on his mobile phone so he is always aware of guest feedback. He can then decide if a staff member should handle the issue, or if he should meet the guests personally. “Each and every guest receives the in-stay survey, if they have an issue I have the opportunity to sit with them personally in the lobby and listen to them carefully before providing service recovery.”
This focus on continual communication and immediate action has delivered tangible results to guest satisfaction. Assante recounts: “Last year, we had a couple staying with us who filled in the in-stay survey saying everything is ok but wished they had one more chair or sunbed on their terrace– after 10 minutes, we provided it. The guests were astonished.”
After a guest has stayed at Hotel Corallo, they receive a post-stay survey immediately upon completing checkout. That way, there’s a chance to resolve any issues before the guest leaves a negative comment with an OTA or review site. Any responses to the hotel’s post-stay surveys are sent to Assante directly, and he responds to 100% of the guests’ feedback, creating a more direct relationship with the guest. The hotel’s survey system is integrated with their PMS, allowing Assante to create customized templates that automatically prefill the guest’s name, stay date and room. In this way, he can quickly answer a large volume of responses without diminishing the personal touch.
The data gathered from the Hotel Corallo’s stay surveys have impacted the guest experience in some unexpected ways, allowing management to fix issues that would otherwise go unnoticed:
Seeing the big picture with ORM
ORM is an indispensable tool in a modern hotel’s guest experience arsenal and Hotel Corallo has made it a significant part of their guest experience strategy. A key part of that is aggregating and understanding the large amounts of data generated by online reviews.
Rather than limiting big data to inform broad decisions, Antonello and his team examine macro trends, and make micro adjustments to the guest experience based on the results.
For example, in 2018, Assante noticed a trend in some reviews mentioning the mattresses in the room didn’t always meet guests’ satisfaction. This trend helped Assante make the call to replace 100 mattresses in the hotel. Not only that, they installed mattresses with adjustable firmness so guests would have the relaxation and the good night’s sleep they wanted out of a leisure hotel.
With this strategy, Hotel Corallo has built and maintained a strong online reputation, as measured by ReviewPro’s Global Review Index, an online reputation score linked to occupancy, RevPAR and revenue. By combining surveys, online reputation management, and a guest-focused service model, Hotel Corallo now enjoys a GRI of 95% – the highest in Sorento!
Acting on Insight
Hotel Corallo Sorrento proves that guest data can be used for much more than generalized market segmentation. When analyzed properly and acted upon in a timely fashion, big data informs micro-decisions that can impact the guest journey in significant ways.
Giving guests a chance to communicate with staff, being attentive to their desires, and acting quickly and appropriately can have a massive impact on their stay, your reputation, and ultimately your bottom line. Even guest complaints and negative feedback are golden opportunities to improve their stay and your reputation. In fact, guests who have made a complaint and have had their complaint dealt with are actually happier than guests who haven’t complained at all.
What makes all the difference is technology that captures and aggregates good data, a detailed guest engagement plan, and a commitment to follow through immediately to perfect the guest experience.
This article was originally written by the GX Spotlight team. It has been moved here as part of the Shiji Group family of hospitality technology brands.