8.13.2021

How to Create a Memorable Hospitality Experience in 4 Steps

Written by Aine Hendron

hospitalty

Your customers' hospitality experience will begin before they step foot in your establishment. Attract customers like never before by considering their experience from the moment they search your venue or service.

Become your guests’ new favourite hotspot by creating a memorable hospitality experience following these 4 simple steps. 

What is a hospitality experience?

A hospitality experience is a combination of all the separate aspects of a hospitality service rolled into one. It’s the venue, the atmosphere, the food, and the customer service that blend perfectly together to create a memorable experience that guests will love and tell their friends about. 

The hospitality sector is densely populated, so if you want to succeed, you’ll have to do more than simply meet guest needs and expectations. You’ll have to go above and beyond what’s expected, providing all the extras and special touches that are sure to make your business stand out. 

1.Set the tone before arrival 

Since 81% of shoppers conduct online research before buying [1], you could argue that the hospitality experience begins even before guests arrive at your venue or receive your service. 

Company mindset

How you view and communicate with your guests, and even how you speak and think about them internally within your company, will be dictated by your brand and the type of company you run. 

The tone changes dramatically when you adapt your choice of language when referring to customers. It all depends on your business’s personality and the type of services you offer. For example, when visiting an up-scale restaurant, you’d probably expect to be referred to as a ‘guest’ or ‘diner’; yet, at a fast-food drive-through or takeout, you’re a ‘customer’. 

Think about the type of guests you host, how they’d like to be regarded in your setting. 

Website and pre-arrival contact

Having an attractive and user-friendly website is extremely important. Your website should be designed to direct visitors through a seamless booking process. 

Guests typically visit a website 3 times before making a booking, spending an average of 29 minutes on the site before finally making a reservation [2]. So, each webpage should have a purpose, and should guide customers towards the end of the sales funnel. There should be plenty of available information on your website too, since studies show that customers are extremely frustrated when websites lack information or FAQs [3]. 

It’s here that you set the tone for the guests’ arrival. Your visual brand identity could be entirely consistent across your website and social media, and in person. Once a guest has booked, send a ‘thank you’ message for choosing to support your business along with a confirmation email. This extra sign of appreciation will not be lost on guests.

2.Provide a seamless service

Build strong and lasting customer relationships by putting great effort into the quality of your service. Once the guest has arrived, it’s up to you and your staff to deliver the service that they’ve paid for. While sometimes working in hospitality seems like just that, working, you should be mindful of the fact that guests have chosen your establishment. Whether they’re visiting to celebrate an event, mark an anniversary, have a family reunion or to simply spend time with friends and family, they will have high expectations for what you have to offer. 

Greet guests with a warm welcome

First impressions stick. Make sure that you greet guests warmly so that they feel comfortable from the moment they arrive at your establishment. Based on the type of hospitality business you run, there are some small steps you can take to provide an immersive, engaging experience from start to finish. 

Excellent customer service

Good customer service should make customers feel cared for and looked after. Little details and efforts can make a huge difference. For example, if you’re a server in a restaurant and you see a family arriving in your establishment, greet them with childrens’ menus in hand, and offer to carry a baby seat over to their table. If a customer is struggling to select a drink, make a suggestion based on what will compliment their food. 

Reduce waiting times

Make sure that guests aren’t waiting too long before their initial interaction with staff when they arrive. Regardless of venue, it’s a good idea to have a booking system in place, or at least provide staggered arrival times for guests. Even the warmest welcome won’t excuse a long queue and wait times. 

The best way to do this is to set up a set arrival slot within your booking system. Or if customers walk in, create an online queue that will automatically send them a message telling them when to return. 

Encourage customer loyalty

Sometimes despite offering a top-tier service, some customers may need an extra initiative to return to your business. Loyalty programs solve this solution perfectly. People like feeling that their dedicated, continued support of your company will be rewarded. Studies show that happy customers are loyal customers, and loyal customers are likely to gradually increase their spending each time they return to your business. 

Create a loyalty structure that is rewarding for patrons, but won’t cost your business too much money. The cost of the prize or discount you provide should always be covered by the customer’s previous purchases. 

Customer loyalty programmes can take the form of stamp cards, annual discounts on customers’ sign-up anniversary, or a certain percentage discount after a set number of purchases.

3.Thoughtful extras

Restaurateurs can impress guests by being particularly attuned to their needs. For example, if you’re working as a server and you notice guest’s glasses are half-full, offer them a top-up before they have to ask. This is also a great way to upsell, which benefits both parties. When chatting to guests, they might explain the purpose of their visit. If it’s a birthday, you could consider bringing a small treat to the table for free, or offering a free glass of wine if they’re drinking alcohol. 

If you’re apprehensive about giving stock away for free, find other ways to make the customer experience more enjoyable. If you own a family restaurant, you could provide colouring sheets and crayons, or stationary maze abacus toys for children to use while parents dine.

In a hotel, including creative and thoughtful amenities is a great way to show your appreciation for your guests. They also serve as a great marketing tool and give guests an extra incentive to return.

Premium electrical equipment

Depending on your budget, your brand image, and the type of guests you accommodate, your rooms should come equipped with suitable electrical appliances to meet expectations and demands. Exceed expectations by providing premium equipment to guests at no extra charge. Some ideas include branded hair styling tools (like Dyson or GHD), a coffee maker with an assortment of herbal teas and artisan coffee sachets, or aromatherapy devices.

Another way to wow guests in this category is to offer electrical adaptor sockets or USB plugs, where guests can safely plug in their international devices. 

Personalised welcome baskets

Think beyond the traditional toiletries basket. During the booking process, you'll likely find out the reason they are travelling (for business, travel break, or leisure), and you'll know if guests are travelling with children, pets or a partner. Partner with local businesses to create a custom gift basket with locally sourced snacks and treats. Doing so will give your guests a special experience, all while supporting your business neighbours. 

4.Effective customer management

Using Epos Now software, you can run your hospitality business from an all-in-one system. Our multi-award-winning point of sale (POS) software is completely customisable, allowing you to access the most relevant, innovative POS reports and integrations for your hospitality business.

  • Create customer loyalty programmes and set special pricing for guests
  • Link your booking system to your website for a seamless user experience
  • Manage restaurant tables by colour codes to track time spent in the restaurant, and maintain solid turnover
  • Introduce click and collect, delivery or tableside ordering for customer convenience
  • Easily integrate customer information with marketing and communication software to send frequent follow-ups, gather reviews, and encourage customer loyalty
  • Design email marketing campaigns with access to unique templates and simple drag and drop functionality
  • Over 100 app integrations are available, including bookkeeping, accounting, and website design

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