What I wish I knew: simplicity is key to a unique guest experience

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Raj Pal, Owner of German bed and breakfast Prime Hotel 20, had no previous experience of running a property, but now regularly scores high reviews. He shares his learnings with Click.

All guests are unique, and they have to be served well if you want to receive excellent reviews, which are vital for accommodation businesses to obtain ongoing reservations.

It may sound obvious, but the question is not how to provide your guests services that satisfy them, but how to offer unexpected services that blow their mind every single day.

When I opened my first bed and breakfast hotel, which has 20 rooms, in Frankfurt am Main, I had no experience of managing a property. The only experience I had with hotels has come from being a guest.

Surprisingly, I gained regular guests from day one, and our rating is consistently over 8.9. I wanted to share some things I have learned since entering this industry.

Surprise your guests (in a good way...)

Surprise your guests even before they arrive at your place. Guests don’t expect a call from you on the day they have a reservation.

When you call your guests a few hours before check-in time and provide information on how to get to your place, or ask if they need additional information, you will have your guests’ attention.

My mother says it’s much easier to keep a customer if you can provide attention to detail, than it is to gain a new one

It’s often easy to forget that something as simple as this differentiates you from other accommodations in an instant. Your call will be memorable. Your guests will even start to do word-of-mouth marketing. They will talk about your call with their family, friends, and colleagues. A friendly call is impactful and unique.

My mother says it’s much easier to keep a customer if you can provide attention to detail, than it is to gain a new one. I agree! It’s lovely to see guests coming back week after week, month after month or even year after year.

The way to make this happen is building a guest relationship. By calling your guests before they arrive, you make the first step in establishing a guest relationship.

Check-in is a magical moment

Then comes check-in. Check-in is a magical moment for you and your guests. At that moment the guests listen to you and you have an excellent opportunity to deliver value.

Use this moment to impress your guests and build a relationship that lasts for years. The key to having a successful breakthrough while doing a check-in is stepping out of your comfort zone. Genuinely be engaged and make a step towards your guests.

Leave your reception and introduce yourself, talk about your guests’ day, where they came from, and where they are heading. Find out what they are interested in. Once you’ve done that, always personally bring your guests to their room.

Later, you can get back to your guests’ stories and ask if they have done what they had planned at the beginning of their stay.

After the stay is crucial

As soon as you have the feeling that you’ve built an excellent relationship with some of your guests, you can go one step further and ask them before they leave to connect on social media (if it feels like you have built up a sufficient rapport). Ask them if they enjoyed their stay and why they would like to come back.

Live video feedback is very powerful to increase your brand awareness. Also, you can use testimonials on your website and on various social media platforms, so people are intrigued about your business and want to find out more.

Having social media advocates for your brand can be incredibly powerful. By following these three explored steps, you will automatically gain new bookings and receive excellent reviews.

Personally, I have experienced a couple of guests who responded to our ‘Facebook Live’ posts. The idea of standing in front of the camera and telling the world their opinion about our services even delighted them.

So go live, explore, give and enjoy!

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Hero image: credit to Alisa Anton

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My funny guest story

A guest once called me at 11:45pm and told me that he couldn’t open the front door. I asked him exactly what he was doing. The guest replied, “well I am pushing and pushing but I still can't open the door”. I then had to tell him to pull it open and that everything would be fine! I have many more stories like this - it’s all part of the business.