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Take These 5 steps to Map the Hotel Guest Experience Journey

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Mapping the guest journey helps your hotel understand and predict guest expectations.

Are you mapping the guest experience journey at your hotel? If not, you’re missing out on an important way to increase guest loyalty and boost revenue. The guest  journey doesn’t just begin and end when they check in and out, either.

“The hotel guest experience, also known as GX, is the sum total of a guest’s interactions with a property and its team members during their stay,” according to hospitality platform Cloudbeds. “While the bulk of the guest experience happens on property, beginning with arrival and ending with departure, it also includes pre-stay and post-stay experiences.”

You can break up guest touchpoints at your hotel into several substages. However, according to Cloudbeds, the three main guest journey stages are:

  • Pre-stay. This is the stage when a potential guest hears about your hotel. During pre-arrival, the potential guest may browse your brand’s website, view Youtube and social media videos of your property and check out nearby attractions, along with reviews from other guests. This stage also includes the booking process.
  • In-stay. This stage of the guest journey includes every interaction with hotel staff and your property during the stay. From check-in to room cleanliness to hotel amenities, this stage forms guests’ impression of your hotel and likeliness to book again.
  • Post-stay. At this stage, guests may send feedback via guest surveys. They may leave a positive or negative review or comment on social media. The guest might look for a response from management to their post-stay review. They may research ways to save during future stays.

“This is also an opportunity to encourage guests to continue to engage with your property by joining your loyalty program or following your property on social media channels if they haven’t yet,” says Cloudbeds.

How to map the guest experience journey

You can map your hotel’s guest journey by diagramming it on paper or using an online whiteboard such as Miro or Mural, according to hotel software platform Operto. Or maybe you prefer a spreadsheet, slideshow or a diagram app such as LucidChart.

No matter which method you choose, Operto suggests these five steps to mapping the guest experience journey.

1. Determine your goals and scope

Is your goal to improve service or introduce a new product or amenity? Maybe you want to understand guest pain points so you can improve. Have one template that focuses on your main goals, suggests Operto.

Such a template might focus on the current state — how your guests plan, act and feel right now. You might narrow that further with a “day in the life” focus on how guests plan, act and feel under certain circumstances or in specific situations. Another may target possible guest reactions to a future product or service.

2. Create your hotel’s guest persona

Create a guest persona of typical guest characteristics and preferences at your hotel based on feedback from several sources, including:

  • One-on-one or group interviews
  • Guest feedback from surveys and online reviews
  • Online forum and social media comments
  • Asking guests how they found out about your hotel

3. Identify guest pain points and motivators

Keeping track of patterns and frequency of issues that guests complain about. Does check-in take too long? Does housekeeping disappoint? Maybe guests don’t feel safe in the hotel parking lot and hallways due to broken or inadequate security and lighting.

“Whatever your guests generally perceive as a pain point becomes your pain point, too,” says Operto.  “If they find it hard to book on your website, you’ll receive fewer bookings.”

4. List the guest journey stages

Now it’s time to lay out the guest journey stages from pre-stay research to post-stay feedback. This allows your guest journey map to pinpoint certain aspects in line with your goals and scope.

5. Identify guest touchpoints

A guest touchpoint is any time a guest interacts with your brand or hotel staff. Touchpoints include both direct and indirect interactions. “Identifying your touchpoints is crucial for a successful guest journey map since those are the places where you can make changes to serve your guests better,” says Operto.

For example, you may keep track of pre-arrival touchpoints such as ease of booking or how many guests view social media videos before booking. During the in-stay stage, your hotel can keep track of how many guests used chat messaging for services or to resolve issues or checked in using their smartphones. Post-stay touchpoints include check-out services, social media comments and reviews and email or text communications.

Bring more minds to the table

Guest journey mapping isn’t a one-person job.” Usually, people make customer journey maps in group sessions,” says Operto.. It’s crucial that you invite the right stakeholders and some guests (if possible) to participate in the discussion.”