The height of hotel service has always been defined as service that is so fast, it anticipates the guests’ needs.
The faster room service could arrive, the better. Call to the front desk because you need a toothbrush, and the best hotels delivered it in mere minutes. That’s what makes hotel stays so special. The immediate fulfillment of requests. But now, in our everyday lives, where digital interactions fulfill wishes instantly, some hotels have moved in the other direction.
Subscribe to our weekly newsletter and stay up to date
We see the adoption of ‘request systems’ where guests wait days to see if they will be allowed to spend more money with a hotel. Sounds odd, right? Let’s examine ‘stand by’ hotel upselling.
The evolution of expectations
It’s a safe bet that you don’t like to wait. Nobody likes time to stand in the way between themselves and what they wany, need or desire. In fact, most of technical and commercial progress is linked to getting things that people want to them faster and more cheaply. Our digital world has only heightened this expectation. You can stream the latest movies, music and audiobooks instantly. You can order something from your phone from Amazon and have it delivered to your house the very same day.
Has this made us all more grateful? No. Has it raised our expectations for service across all facets of our lives? Yes. We live in a world where we expect a response now.
Thus, guest requests are an important part of hotel management because they underpin guest satisfaction. Yet, more often than not, hotels fail to prioritize it with the right technological tools.
Why are you making them wait?
Customer service drives brand perception and experience, which in turn drive revenue and customer retention. Customer service has been revealed as a key factor for sustainable competitive advantage, and research by Forbes shows that 35% of customers will pay more for great customer service, while 34% of customers will not return if their needs are not met. From reservation to review, the quality of your guest interactions directly influences their experience and satisfaction – all of which flows to your bottom line.
Let’s zoom in on an increasingly valuable part of the guest journey – the pre-arrival upsell e-mail. The industry has recognized that the monetization of room upgrades, early check-ins, late check-outs provide the highest margin revenue a hotel can collect (the kind of revenue that drives positive NOI). Most hotels now pre-sell these products long with more traditional items like valet parking and breakfasts.
The big challenge is that, while a hotel can promote the offer of a pre-arrival room upgrade, they can’t really promise it. Why? The challenge is the inability to understand true availability – something most hotels can only see on day of arrival. Want to see this operational challenge in action? Go tell housekeeping that you have promised early check-in to 75% of your arriving guests and watch their reaction.
Because hotels can’t determine true availability in advance, but they still want the upsell revenue, they resort to “Upgrade Request Systems.” With these systems, upgrade requests are granted only once the hotel understands who has checked in, who will be checking out, who has booked since the request was made, and how the housekeeper shifts are playing out. With most current systems, that can only happen the morning of arrival. In essence, they are like a half-way house, neither here nor there; they can offer or upsell upgrades and stay extensions but they can’t be guarantee them. More often than not upgrades often do not materialize, and guests are left disappointed. Request systems are identifiable by their 1-way integration with the PMS. They can pull inventory but they can’t claim inventory. Guests who want upgrades are left virtually standing by in line. Not exactly the epitome of good hotel service. In fact, it’s just the opposite.
Automated Upselling fulfills service promises
If customers are ready to buy, enable them to do it quickly. Yes, hotels are notorious for legacy technology systems that are built for legacy service models. But new upselling systems start with operational intelligence that powers offer automation that is tightly integrated with your PMS. 2-way integration empowers hotels to optimize upselling opportunities – minus operational headaches and disappointed guests.
Your guests deserve to receive the best possible service at any time. The right upselling solution not only drives revenue but makes stay customization a fun and integral part of the guest journey. Every hotel stands to benefit from consistent upsell revenue and happier guests. Just make sure you choose a smart system that is built with your operations in mind.