The UK hotel industry has been enjoying a decade of growth — with more good news to come, according to researchers. Hotels can look forward to a 2.9% rise in overseas tourists in 2019 and the positive trend is predicted to rise steadily over the next five years[1].

But winning a healthy share of this growing audience won’t come easy. You’ll need to innovate.

Back in the day, welcoming smiles, clean rooms and comfy beds took you a long way towards stellar customer satisfaction. But increasingly, UK hotels are having to market themselves as an experience, rather than a stopover. And engaging with the tech belonging to guests is now a big part of what makes a stay special.

Here are five ways you can improve your guests’ experience:

1: Launch your own app: Most of us have become familiar with online check-ins that save us from queues at the front desk. But why not consider using an app that also enables your guests to order room service, reserve a table for dinner and book spa treatments or pay and check out? You could text guests to encourage them to download your app — perhaps with the offer of a free bottle of wine if they use it to book dinner?

2: Know when to text: As long as these aren’t relentless, the occasional text at the right time can help your guests settle in and make the most of their stay. Soon after they arrive, you can ask if their room is OK, tell them how to contact reception and say when breakfast is served. Later on, you could send messages about your pool/fitness room opening hours, the concierge service and the process for a fast checkout.

3: Respond to reviews swiftly: Keep a close eye on your Facebook and Twitter pages and review sites such as TripAdvisor because customers are quick on the trigger when issues come up. In fact, it’s always possible that guests sound off online while they’re still staying at your hotel, rather than telling you to your face. This gives you the opportunity to respond in real time and turn genuine complaints into glowing recommendations.

4: Enable flexible payments: For extra convenience, allow guests to use secure mobile wallet payments such as Apple Pay or Google Pay, even PayPal. Also, give overseas customers the comfort of settling bills in their own currency using Visa or Mastercard.

5: Remember your guests: With all that payments and other data you have about your guests, you now have a ‘full view of the customer’. Use it to send them personal, special offers over following months by text, email or via your app. Also, tell them about events or attractions in the area that connect with their interests — and create short themed breaks to offer them.

Guiding principles

Engaging with new technology and taking advantage of the new points of interaction it offers is a great way to connect at a deeper level with your guests. Their behaviours, service expectations and your technology can each drive each other in ways that improve experiences and business success.

Never roll out new tech for its own sake or make it complicated. Two-thirds of UK consumers will abandon mobile transactions out of principle if the process is too difficult, according to eCommerce research from Elavon.

However, use technology to provide your guests with extra choice, control and convenience — and you’ll win greater loyalty for years to come.