Guest experience: The details that make the difference
Needless to say, the hospitality sector keeps getting more and more competitive these days. On booking.com, for instance, 1,172,086 hotels worldwide are listed. Airbnb registered around 500,000 stays per night back in 2015, so probably a lot more at this moment.
Clearly, in order to survive and thrive on such a constantly growing market, one must stand out. But how do we achieve that? By constantly and costly investing in innovative equipment, trendy design updates and expensive promotional services?
Not necessarily. In hospitality, probably more than in other field, "little details make a big difference". Why, you ask?
Happy customers will spread the word about your business. They will recommend your location to their friends when they are looking for a going-out/housing idea and will even become your volunteer social media marketers by posting perfectly chosen pictures on their social profiles. Since hashtags are trendy, they will also use them, allowing the free advertising they just created for you to become visible to those outside their friend list.
Hey, if you're lucky, that post could even become viral and you could get the type of promotion and ad agency would ask thousands of dollars for!
So, what are the details that could make a difference? Guessing what customers want or need may seem like the most difficult task in the universe if we think about it that way.
At the end of the day, however, our customers are people just like us and should in no way be regarded any differently.
The best way to understand patrons and "guess" their needs is by having a look at what's trending at the moment and, why not, what we would like in their place. At the end of the day, we're all customers. If we are bothered by a restaurant's decision to charge for napkins, for sure there will be people that will also not be pleased with this apparently "minor" detail.
I always, for instance, appreciate things that are on the house when going out. It shows me that the location wants to make customers feel extra welcome. Such things do not need to cost a fortune and take your business to sure bankruptcy¦ they are small efforts that show you care.
When I visited Greece, for example, a small family-owned tavern served each guest a bowl of locally grown and prepared olives, together with home-made toast and butter. After a whole day of sunbathing and strolling around, I can't tell you how good it felt to receive such a treatment, especially since there was some waiting time involved for the food order.
When I went to Barcelona, someone had left tourist maps on the bed, with a small list of must-see landmark recommendations. The map had a message attached to it “ "use me as you please and then take me home as a souvenir".
In Vienna, the small boutique hotel where I stayed, prepared a probably very affordable goodie bag for customers containing 5 refrigerator magnets with some lovely old Austrian buildings, among which, surprise, was also the hotel. The name of the hotel was featured on the magnet and its web address was mentioned discreetly on the back. The message on the goodie bag: "we took care of the souvenirs, enjoy your vacation!" Such a great way to advertise your business!
In Istanbul, I will never forget about the free dessert I got at a place I just happened to walk into. I returned to that restaurant 2 more times and recommended it to my friends as well.
In Lisbon, at an otherwise plainly looking small restaurant, the owner entertained guests with jokes. That is why his small diner became quite well known and recommended online, everyone loved the guy and the atmosphere he created.
What detail could turn your business into the talk of the town?
If you want to become famous online and get the buzz going about your business, give your customers what they couldn't live without.
So what could that be? Free food, free sweets, a free night at your hotel?
You'd be surprised but free WiFi is probably as important as food when traveling abroad. Even Maslow's hierarchy of basic needs has been updated to include WiFi as an everyday necessity. I know that you probably already are offering this free service to your customers, so how could you possibly stand out?
The answer is simple.
In the Trump and Snooper's Charter era, more and more people are worried about their Internet privacy.
But what if you were offering online privacy with something extra? The Safe WiFi project enables brick-and-mortar business owners to make money, while protecting customers online.
As a business owner, all you need to do is set up an ad on your free WiFi landing page, advising visitors to protect themselves online with VPN. Furthermore, you can place printed materials inside your location to promote this online privacy protection app, since you will earn up to EUR 1 for each VPN download and up to EUR 50 for each purchase of Premium subscriptions.
What is a VPN and how does it ensure Internet privacy? Simply. It replaces a person's IP (aka their online identity) with a different one, generated by the company's servers. This new address will be shared with other people, making it impossible for others to spy or hack the personal data we use online (such as credit card credentials or Internet history).
It's time to show your customers that you care. They will feel welcome in your location and will recommend it to others as well. By joining the Safe WiFi affiliate program, you will profit in more than one way.