The final in our three-part GEM Study series highlights the importance of digital guest engagement and self-service. Digital engagement is the ongoing interaction between the property and the guest – usually via a digital communication channel offered by the property and utilized by the guest. The advent of social media and newer communication channels, including SMS, have revolutionized the way a resort, hotel or cruise line communicates with its guests or passengers. More people are preferring the convenience of chats and social media to get questions answered on-the-spot. These types of digital engagement from a prospective guest, in particular when initiated by the guest, usually indicates some level of investment. Having one of more of these channels available to information seekers can also make the difference in earning that guest’s business. This trend toward automation and instant access is prompting more hospitality businesses to adopt a strategy that includes interactive platforms such as AI-chatbots, kiosks, mobile tablets, or virtual assistants like Amazon Alexa.
In fact, over 51% of hospitality respondents said that more in-room technology complemented by guest-facing self-service and mobile applications are most critical to the competitiveness of their property. On-site guest engagement has a positive influence on guest loyalty. That is, properties who engage with their guests during their stay via digital interactions see higher guest return rates than for those guests who are not engaged digitally.
A predominant benefit of digital self-service is a better bottom line. Guests who can self-serve tend to have higher average order value with that business. They’re also more likely to become repeat – or even lifetime visitors. Mobile guest service, such as tablets used by staff at a dining venue, reduces the overall cost to acquire that guest’s spend since there is less reliance on traditional terminals that otherwise minimize engagement opportunities.
In addition, other marketing-oriented engagement platforms use email, search engine marketing, social media and web marketing to reach more guests. The bulk of these platforms include tools that make it easy for visitors to quickly find answers about property features that can help draw more guests. All of these interactive tools play their part by providing guidance during initial stages of the guest journey, helping them find information quickly, and in a way that is convenient for that guest.