How to Create a Successful Hotel Guest Engagement Strategy

By June 1, 2022vacation rentals

Losing 15-20% of your booking revenue in OTA commissions is a sad reality that many hotels simply have to accept. And on top of that loss of revenue upfront, guests are more likely to cancel when they reserve through an OTA due to the rise in free cancellation policies. 

To avoid this, build a base of loyal guests who book through your website—easier said than done. However, making brand champions out of your guests is achievable when you enhance the customer experience through a structured hotel guest engagement strategy.

Hotel guest engagement strategies put guests at the center of their stay, meaning they feel special and listened to. Discover how the right hotel guest engagement strategy can do wonders for your customers and business.

Operto Guest empowers you to surpass your customers’ expectations without spending hours each day doing so. See how Operto can delight your guests.


Use guest engagement to turn customers into brand champions

When guests are highly engaged, they feel connected to your brand. This creates a sense of loyalty, making them more likely to return to your hotel, which is why guest engagement is crucial to gaining direct bookings and creating brand champions. 

Brand champions are the guests that not only come back to your hotel each year, but also tell their family and friends who are visiting the area that they just have to stay with you. With well-designed engagement strategies, you can reap the rewards of repeat guests and their referrals without adding to your workload. 

Connect emotionally with your guests 

Guest engagement isn’t about quantity—it’s about quality. Your guests are flooded with content, so make yourself stand out by connecting with them on an emotional level. This means being strategic about what content you share and when. 

By collecting a few important details about your guests before they arrive (where they are coming from, who they are traveling with, and what the purpose of their visit is, for example), you can provide guests with customized upsells that make them feel special. 

Are they a digital nomad who needs a quiet place to work? Offer discounts for coworking spaces. Are they traveling with kids? Suggest childcare services and day camps. Did they just get married? Upsell the honeymoon suite and a couple’s massage. 

A good guest engagement strategy is about putting your customers first, and to do that, you need to know what they want, what they need, and what they love.

Couple on vacation

Give each and every one of your guests a unique and memorable experience through guest engagement.

Identify when to create touchpoints throughout the guest journey 

The guest experience extends before and after your guest is actually staying at your hotel. Guest journey stages begin pre-stay, continue during a guest’s stay, and extend to post-stay, and a solid guest engagement approach meets guests at every one of these stages, giving them exactly what they need, when they need it.

Guest engagement tactics

Your guest engagement tactics will differ during the various stages of the guest journey.

Because customer engagement is so comprehensive, you need a clearly structured strategy that allows you to define the channels and touchpoints along each stage of the hotel guest journey and properly engage with guests throughout: The right strategy not only tells you when to communicate with guests, but also what information you should share with them at each stage and how.

Common channels include your website, OTA listings, your social media accounts, and email communication. One of the most powerful touchpoints for hotels wanting to improve their guest engagement is a branded app. 

A branded app is a touchpoint your guest has in the palm of their hand that gives them access to just the right information for each stage of the guest journey. With Operto Guest, this is easy for you to set up and use, and it greatly enhances customer satisfaction.

Operto Guest empowers you to surpass your customers’ expectations without spending hours each day doing so. See how Operto can delight your guests.

Your ready-made strategy for hotel guest engagement

To make guest engagement a key element of your hotel operations, you need to follow a proven strategy. By doing so, you’ll add value to your guests’ experiences, strengthen your brand, and increase your hotel upselling opportunities.

Follow these tips for a hotel guest engagement strategy to increase your bookings and create brand champions out of your visitors.  

Pre-Stay guest engagement

Just because your guests won’t be checking in for a few more months doesn’t mean it’s too early to start engaging with them. The pre-stay stages are critical moments when carrying out a strategy for hotel guest engagement—this is when you can collect key information about your guests that you’ll use to personalize touchpoints later on in their journey. 

During pre-stay guest engagement, your priority should be collecting information about visitors that can help you to customize and enhance their stay. Ask why they’re traveling, where they’re coming from, and what they’re hoping to get out of their stay so you know how to personalize upsells, as well as add value to their stay with a special offer or in-room treat, once they arrive. 

You should also make your branded app available to your guests the moment they book. With Operto Guest, you can begin to employ customer engagement strategies like early check-in upsells and room upgrades, as well as provide helpful information to guests about your hotel and the surrounding area, the moment your guest makes their reservation.

Take your guest’s stay to the next level by offering them curated recommendations on local dining options and attractions.

But pre-stay guest engagement also includes the experiences a potential customer has before even making a booking, so always be friendly and highly responsive to potential guests’ questions.

To make this process even more hands-off, publish a highly detailed website and OTA listing that answers guests’ questions before they even have to ask them. Another way to engage potential guests before they book is with interactive elements on your website, like videos and virtual tours. 

Finally, offer your guests a frictionless start to their stay with contactless check-in. Guests appreciate the ability to arrive and check in on their own schedule, without having to wait in line after a long and tiring journey, which is why online check-in for hotels is such an attractive feature to guests. 

Get creative with that extra lobby space that reception once occupied—you could even turn your front desk into a complimentary coffee bar to give your guests a seamless arrival experience and engage with them in more meaningful and memorable ways.

Offer your guests helpful upsells before they step foot in your hotel, like early check-in.

In-Stay guest engagement

During a guest’s stay is when a branded guest app shines through. At this time, you can cater upsells towards your guests’ needs (which you are aware of because you collected key information during the pre-stay guest engagement stage). 

This is when you can really connect with your guests on an emotional level, all within one convenient medium: Your branded app. Offer customized guidebooks, in-app promotions, and a digital front desk to make every guest’s experience even more enjoyable than they imagined. 

To make their stay frictionless, use Operto Guest hotel guest experience software to put all the information your guests could possibly need right on their mobile device, while also giving them the ability to seamlessly contact you through direct messaging in a mobile-optimized web app. 

With opt-in marketing, you can schedule messages about relevant in-stay upsells, features, and services your hotel offers, like spa treatments or room service. You can also market local partners’ products and services, like equipment rentals, unique tours, and dining options: Just because your hotel doesn’t offer it doesn’t mean you can’t make it available to guests elsewhere—that’s what adding value and enhancing the guest experience is all about. 

Use Operto Guest for customized in-app marketing to offer your guests what they didn’t even know they needed.

Finally, we recommend a mid-stay review as an in-stay guest engagement strategy. While post-stay reviews help you get essential feedback about your guests’ stay, mid-stay reviews allow you to address issues before they tarnish your guest’s experience (and your brand). 

Turn a mediocre review into a glowing one just by engaging with your guest and solving their problems while they’re happening.

Post-Stay guest engagement 

Just because your guest checked out doesn’t mean guest engagement is over. Post-stay engagement centers around what everyone in the travel industry cares about: Reviews. To begin, a good post-stay guest engagement strategy makes the reviewing process as simple as possible. 

Send your guests an in-app message after they check out to remind them to leave a review. If you successfully implemented your pre-stay and in-stay engagement strategies, your guests may leave a review right then and there. 

But people are busy, especially when they get back from vacation, so don’t be afraid to send a reminder. Let your guests know how important reviews are in the hospitality industry, and consider mentioning discounts or loyalty programs as a reward for filling out a review. 

Even when you offer discounts, guest loyalty pays itself off: If you offer a guest 10% off their next reservation, that’s still less than the 15-20% you’re leaving behind when a customer books through an OTA. This is a key hotel marketing strategy that will create loyal guests and increase your occupancy and revenue. 

And don’t be afraid to follow up with guests through email marketing to share special repeat booking or referral offers. With effective guest engagement, you can schedule these messages to be sent six to nine months after your guest’s stay to increase the probability of them booking again. 

Put your hotel guest engagement strategy into action 

From before a guest makes their reservation, through their hotel check-in and stay, and until long past they leave, you can create a memorable experience for your customers with the right hotel guest engagement strategy. 

And when you digitize the transactional moments of a hotel experience, you have more time to focus on the magical elements of the guest journey. 

Operto Guest’s mobile technology lets you customize the guest experience without having to put in the extra work, meaning increased guest satisfaction for the same amount of effort. The best engagement strategy for hotel guests is the one that anticipates their every need, and you can do just that with Operto’s advanced guest management technology. 

Operto Guest empowers you to surpass your customers’ expectations without spending hours each day doing so. See how Operto can delight your guests.

Frequently asked questions about hotel guest engagement strategy

What is an example of engagement strategy for hotels?

An example of an engagement strategy for hotels is an approach that focuses on pre-stay, in-stay, and post-stay communication. In each phase, hotel management and operations keeps lines of communication open with guests and provides them with the extra amenities and services they need to enjoy a memorable stay. 

Why should hotels have an engagement strategy?

Engagement strategies have a number of benefits for hotels, including: 

  • Improved guest experience

  • Better reviews

  • Seamless operations

  • Increased direct bookings and referrals

  • Guest loyalty and retention

Who is the “target audience” for a hotel engagement strategy?

The target audience for a hotel engagement strategy is any guest that visits the hotel. By communicating with guests before their stay (which is key to a successful hotel engagement strategy), you learn exactly why they’re visiting. 

That way, you can provide them with custom upsells, amenities, and services that take their experience to the next level, no matter their reason for booking.