With regards to managing hotel guest expectations, a good rule to follow to make it easier to do just that is to under promise and over deliver. This by no means means that you shouldn’t effectively promote and advertise your property but it means that you shouldn’t over promise anything because that will create an expectation.
By keeping some surprises in reserve for your guests, you can create welcomed positive experiences and delights that will go a long way toward how they view, and then review your property. If you lay down all your cards on the table at once, you have nothing in reserve to turn potential negatives into positives, but if you lay down half your hand, which represents the guest’s expectations, and keep half to dole out during the visit, which represents your value adds, you can easily exceed the guest’s expectations and that will likely result in positive perceptions and ultimately positive reviews, repeat visits, and hopefully some good old–fashioned word of mouth marketing.
Think about what makes guests say WOW – the more wow you can create the better experience the guest has.
A wow is always what they don’t expect or didn’t see coming
As an example, if you promote a welcome cocktail with gorgeous images of guests holding perfect glasses of coconut rum punch garnished with a slice of pineapple and in real life your arriving guests get anything less than that, it’s a disappointment. If it’s not mentioned at all in your storytelling and marketing but then still given upon arrival, it becomes a surprise and a delight regardless of whether the pineapple garnish is even present.
Here are a few practical ways to make sure that you can under-promise and over-deliver while still marketing effectively:
- Be mindful of Photoshop. We all blue up the ocean a bit and touch ups like that BUT are you going overboard? Take a look at your property’s branding imagery. Is the Caribbean resort you see there the one you see when you walk out of a guest room?
- Take a look at your amenities list. Is there anything you can remove as an expectation but keep as a value add-on? The bottle of wine and cheese plate in the room upon arrival would make a great surprise instead of an expectation. Cheese and wine tastes vary so widely you’re bound to disappoint some if it is promised ahead of time!
- Promote user created content (ex: Instagram posts that tag your location etc). Your guests aren’t color-editing the picture of your breakfast buffet yet they’re still pleased enough to be posting about it on social media. Mix user created content in with your marketing efforts and you’ll have more guests arriving with accurate, realistic expectations that can then be exceeded.
- There needs to be parity between management photos and guest images. Discrepancies will lead to complaints.
- Examine your website and be sure that there is truth in content. Consumers are too smart nowadays and have too many resources at their fingertips to check and cross-check reviews, images, etc. Make sure you’re giving accurate descriptions of rooms, facilities etc. Does your property have a gym that consists of just one machine and a few free-weights? It’s probably best to remove ‘gym’ from your amenities list and say online that there’s a treadmill and weights available for those who aren’t interested in the ‘beach body burn’ routine your resort developed and blogged about, local hikes, water sports, or bikes you have available on property. Turn the fact that there IS a treadmill on property into a bonus, not a disappointment because the guest expected what their used to in their gyms at home.
It is important to remember that if you meet expectations, guests become passive, if you fail to meet expectations, your guests will detract from your business, but if you exceed expectations your gusts will become advocates who not only come back to your hotel or restaurant, but also recommend it to others.2