Viewpoint: When everything is changing, look at what you can control

12 September 2023
Viewpoint: When everything is changing, look at what you can control

If guests have to be persuaded to spend their hard-earned money at your hotel, make it easy for them to choose you, says Matthew Prosser

Inflation: the dreaded word that has repeatedly hit the UK headlines this year, so much so that it's been coined ‘stagflation' by some media outlets as the UK precariously floats above a recession.

When the Bank of England announced that the interest rate would once again rise from 5% to 5.25% in early August, the highest it's been since 2008, hearts of hoteliers up and down the country sank.

Hotels are fighting the fight on both sides. On one hand, inflation drives up costs for suppliers, from food and beverages to cleaning products, and on the other, consumers are tightening their belts and will start thinking twice about their leisure spending habits. Stuck between a rock and a hard place, the output cost is soaring while the revenue input dips.

Unfortunately, to mitigate this, many hotels have found that they've had to increase room costs to offset inflation by as much as 13% in some cases. This is making it even harder to entice people to part with their money.

The golden rule of the hospitality industry is to never show face – well, apart from the welcoming one with which you greet guests. Hotels are under extra pressure, customers want more bang for their buck, and a slip in service will be looked at with extra scrutiny if guests are forking out their hard-earned money.

Just service or true hospitality

Having no control over outside forces, such as inflation and the cost of living crisis, can feel overwhelming when you're at the mercy of consumer spending, but one thing managers can control is the level of service they offer to guests. People book their holidays for a respite from the hustle and bustle of their day-to-day life and our role is to make them feel special. True hospitality means melting away the stresses of life for the guests by creating memorable moments that remind them why they book their stays with you.

Taking back control with technology

Every interaction with the guest leaves a lasting impression, and unfortunately, a bad one can outweigh three or four great interactions. One negative review requires roughly 40 positive ones to outweigh the damage, so it's important that from the first interaction at the reception to when they hand back their room key, every touchpoint is handled with care.

Technology has had a transformative impact on the hospitality industry, revolutionising hotel operations and their services. Property management systems (PMS) are centralised systems that can give visibility over all guest touchpoints, meaning you can oversee every aspect within your building while being able to zero in on providing a unique experience for each guest.

Any seasoned hotelier knows that you can never underestimate the impact of a personalised experience; it shows warmth and genuine care about what you are providing and their experience with you. Being able to build guest profiles through a PMS system gives you an insight into guest

preferences to elevate the service; whether that means remembering their favourite wine at the restaurant or recommending relevant upgrades based on past choices. Not only do these create those moments that make all the difference, but they also provide upselling and cross-selling opportunities by demonstrating an understanding of their needs.

True hospitality means moving beyond the protocols of service to create amazing experiences consistently. We are not out of the woods, economically speaking, but being able to ensure and secure great guest experiences means increased revenue and returning customers. Doing so will position your hotel as a cut above the rest, something that is more vital now than ever.

Matthew Prosser is regional director at Agilysys

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