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Reaching Out

Hotels Take Proactive Approach To Enhancing The Guest Experience

Tuesday, October 09, 2018
Steve Pike
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When does a guest experience at a hotel or resort begin? The immediate answer might be at the time of check-in or even when a valet takes a guest’s car.

More and more, however, hotels and resorts are trying to create experiences before a guest’s arrival. Pre-visit communications between a property and guests is becoming vital to a “first impression,” as well as providing hotel/resort staff with information on such things as room and culinary preferences.

“We reach out via email and phone—that’s the initial contact,” said Ricardo Mendes, general manager of the Hyatt Centric Brickell Miami.

Phone? That’s right. A guest—before his or after her visit—actually can communicate with a real person. For Hyatt Centric’s top-tier guests, Mendes said, the hotel’s director of operations personally makes the calls.

“We try to call about two to three days in advance,” Mendes said. “And we catch a lot of things that help us personalize our guests’ experience.

“For example, we can help identify arrival times. Usually our check-in time is 4 p.m., but if you’re coming from an international flight, you might arrive at 10 a.m. Because we reached out and knew you were coming, we’re able to make sure the room is ready on time when you arrive.”

That’s the first step to what Karan Kakar, general manager at Cadillac Hotel & Beach Club in Miami Beach, calls “curating” the guest experience.

“Every guest who comes to our hotel has different expectations,” Kakar said. “To be able to have that (pre-arrival) information really helps get a guest engaged. That creates a sense of loyalty, because now you know the guests and they know you.”

Most major hotel/resort companies, including Hyatt and InterContinental Hotel Group, have programs and databases that contain information on guests who have stayed at any of their branded hotels from around the world.

“Members of our InterContinental Ambassadors loyalty program receive a pre-stay welcome email that is customized for each guest,” said Robert Hill, general manager of the InterContinental Miami. “This message is sent a few days prior to arrival to help identify any special requests, such as room type and location, bedding preferences, special occasions and assistance with local logistics, restaurant reservations and leisure activities.

Are guests surprised that the property reaches out before their visit?

“It seems to be less an element of surprise, but more a feeling of appreciation that the hotel is making an effort to understand the needs of the guest,” Hill said. “When it comes to staying at a luxury hotel like InterContinental Miami, the guest is here for more than just a hotel stay—they come for an experience—and it’s our job to exceed their expectations through service and communication.”

The InterContinental Miami recently introduced a new feature for meeting planning partners and large group organizers that Hill said enables them to customize a welcome note to their guests before arrival.

“This provides a turn-key feature for planners who are often organizing multiple events at once,” Hill said. “The email lays out information about the hotel and our on-site amenities, shares the most up-to-date agenda and itinerary, and information about Miami as a destination. Once guests are on-property, they have access to “Zingle,” an app that allows guests to request any service—from the morning paper to milk and cookies—from their mobile device.”

Four Seasons Hotels offers “Four Seasons Chat,” by which guests receive pre-arrival phone calls, and also sends guest confirmation emails.

“A guest's estimated time of arrival can be determined based on their transportation details acquired, and our team also uses guest preferences, names and ages of kids, reason for the stay, any allergies, pre-planning activities, requested housekeeping service times, rooms allocations and more to determine how best to customize their stay,” said Luciano Aoki, guest experiences manager at The Four Seasons Orlando at Walt Disney World.

The Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress in Orlando reaches out to World of Hyatt Globalist and Explorist guests, as well as, repeat guests in advance of their arrival.

“Our guest experience coordinator reviews guest history and notes preferences and special needs prior to contacting the guest,” Jason Cabrera, director of rooms at the Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress. “We also have a system that sends us guest stay comments which are reviewed daily. This information is very helpful to make the guest experience enjoyable, personalized and memorable throughout the family of Hyatt hotels and resorts.”
Steve Pike
Hotel Interactive® Editorial Division

Bio: Steve Pike is an award-winning golf writer and author who helped define golf business reporting in the early 1990s as the first Golf Business Editor for Golfweek magazine and later at Golf World and Golf Shop Operations magazines for Golf Digest. Pike further pioneered this genre at the PGA of America and Time Warner as the golf business writer and editor for PGA.com. He started in newspapers more than ...
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