Guest Journey changed for the better
Summary: The transactional part of the guest journey is outdated, inefficient and not hospitable at all. Labor shortage makes the need for change even more obvious.
Why are certain processes of the guest journey still so outdated? When in times of a massive and lasting labor shortage the obvious potential for increased efficiencies should be an absolute no-brainer??
Essentially it comes down to tech complexity, bad execution – and a big misunderstanding. Just take everything around online/self check-in as an example.
One very common reason for not becoming more digital around the check-in process was: “We are in the hospitality business. We want to keep it personal.”
Well let’s sort things out a bit. Why is the check-in process like it is? What is the purpose of it? There are two main, but immensely different aspects:
1. Being hospitable
To provide a hospitable, personal, warm welcome – like it would be if you invite somebody to your home! Being friendly, smiling, introducing yourself if unknown yet, show around, answer questions, giving tipps for what to do in the surroundings, offering a drink, helping with the luggage – things like that.
2. Doing Admin
To conclude comprehensive and time consuming admin tasks: fill in and sign a registration form, check ID, make payment/pre-authorize a CC, prepare and handover a keycard … All this is purely transactional, adding nothing to a hospitable welcome experience.
Depending on the brand and positioning of the property, the first part could be very important for the whole experience (eg. most luxury brands) or be almost non-existent (some economy brands).
The second however, is like most admin tasks just a necessary nuisance. Nobody would do any of this when receiving a private visitor at home.
Unfortunately, it has to be done. But all this admin never was the highlight of any hotel stay. It just causes friction, it is a time consuming pain point.
Given the digital options for online/self check-in, there is no reason at all to spill the hospitable welcome experience with purely transactional admin tasks any longer.
There are many way better options for the guest to handle the purely admin part of the check-in, either during idle times on the way or latest at least self-driven at a self service terminal. Worst case is having to wait in line to conclude procedures which sometimes feel like applying for a loan. Procedures consuming time which otherwise actually could be used for a hospitable welcome experience!
Just to be clear: your brand and strategic positioning determine which hospitable personal elements are in place in order to create the fitting experience – the script and the stage of a Four Season provides a different “type of theater” than a Sonder. There is not only one best way here, there are different business models out there and most have their place in the market.
But the transactional part of the check-in better is with the guest in control, smooth, efficient and painless. No matter your brand, less pain is always a better experience!