Turning Likes into Love: How To Tap into Guest Preferences to Create Exceptional Experiences

a photo of Bianca Esmond

Bianca Esmond

5 min read

Mar 14, 2019

Turning Likes into Love: How To Tap into Guest Preferences to Create Exceptional Experiences

From shopping to searching, we live in an era of personalization. We expect Amazon to know which socks we like and Yelp to know what we want for lunch. Why should guests expect hotel restaurants to be any different? With a treasure trove of data to collect and analyze, restaurants are well positioned to deliver on personalized touches that make consumers feel at home by understanding guest preferences.

Personalization is subtlety at its best

Guests should experience the value in sharing their individual preferences. Personalization can be as simple as a friendly, “Welcome back, Jane!” upon arrival, but there are many more sophisticated, innovative options that can encourage guests to share the subtle touches that keep them happy. Imagine allowing your guests to set their preferred table or order a welcome cocktail before they even arrive, and having the restaurant reservation system remember those guest preferences at whatever property they dine at across an entire group. Subtle touches that encourage guests to share their preferences make them feel at ease with sharing their data. Guests can sense when something is wrong, from when their data is being used in a manner that feels invasive to recognizing that their repeatedly preferred options are being ignored. The right CRM can help ensure the process of personalization is streamlined, accurate and seamless.

Personalize service by prioritizing guest interactions

Repeat guests are a godsend. In fact, the research shows that it is seven times more cost effective to retain an existing customer than to acquire a new one. Not only have these guests proven their loyalty to your restaurant, but they have also already told you what they like. Every choice a guest makes is a valuable data point. The right CRM platform, especially when tied into your point-of-sale (POS) system and property management system (PMS), can unlock the power of your restaurant’s data, putting the information at your staff’s fingertips. With robust personalization tools, you can intelligently guide staff so they are prepared to have meaningful interactions throughout the guest journey by connecting restaurant and hotel data. Upselling can be a part of that, but just as important is the ability to make repeat guests feel like staff remember their preferences and are eager to make them feel at home. A recent study found that 51% of Americans say their waiter remembering them from a previous visit would make their experience more memorable, while one in three wouldn’t return if they felt the waiter didn’t pay attention to their preferences. Building loyalty should be a priority at every touch point in the guest experience.

Act on surveys and guest feedback

The importance of guest feedback surveys cannot be emphasized enough. They allow you to understand guest likes and dislikes, and provide actionable data to win their loyalty. The right CRM allows hotel restaurants to engage with guests every step of the way, making them feel understood and valued. Surveys and feedback, both those sent out by your property and reviews across online channels, should be treated as living documents that are analyzed regularly for effectiveness and should be used as learning tools for staff. Most importantly, make sure you have a restaurant CRM in place that allows you to collect and store this valuable data automatically on each guest profile.

Reflect on what’s important to guests

Most of the time, it all starts with a search. Over 90% of customers use searches at every stage of planning purchases, seeking inspiration, reviews, prices and more. The same is true for prospective guests, who have likely already researched your restaurant before they book or show up for their reservation. Now is the time to bust out your arsenal of personalized marketing tools (like retargeting via cookies) to make a connection with your dining while they are in research and discovery mode. It’s important to be able to retarget prospects with beautiful, compelling marketing content inspired by the specific terms guests are searching for across multiple social platforms and ad channels. For example, if they are looking to book a private room for a work dinner, tempt them with photos of your private dining spaces, not the cocktail bar or after-hours events. Guests are more likely to book a restaurant that’s in line with their search history. It worked well for the Set Hotels, which saw a 60% increase in web bookings after launching a personalized, omni-channel strategy that provided users with customized ad experiences. Making sure prospective guests know you’re paying attention will convey the kind of customized, tailor-made experience they will have at your restaurant.

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