The merging of the short-term rental (STR) and hotel markets has brought about a shift in hotel guest expectations, which naturally impacts how your customers perceive your service.
Hotels and STRs are being promoted on the same marketing channels, and, as a result, travelers care less about the kind of accommodation they stay at and, instead, are looking for these key qualities: Convenience, autonomy, and personalization.
But just as guest expectations are changing and putting pressure on hotels to offer more, the hospitality labor shortage is making it harder than ever to meet guest needs.
In this article, we’ve fielded the opinions of industry insiders to show you how you can meet and exceed new guest expectations with the same or fewer members of staff. We also offer tips on which specific tech tools can help.
Giving your guests a five-star experience doesn’t have to mean extra work—actually, it should mean less.
Discover an alternative digital guidebook solution: Operto Guest.
White-label, customizable guides that guests love.
Hotel guest expectations: Control and choice
Research into the US tourism industry shows that millennials travel more than other generations, spending 35 days per year on a vacation, compared to 26 days for Generation X; 27 days for Baby Boomers; and 29 days for Generation Z.
This cohort of travelers has grown up with technology, and sees its advantages for providing control and choice over their travel experience.
As such, tech innovations like contactless check-in and in-app messaging with hotel staff are no longer novel add-ons. Instead, they’re key to giving guests the experience they’re looking for.
Let’s take a look at the main trends in hotel guest expectations and what hoteliers can do to meet them.
1. Contactless experiences
Contactless processes save your team time by automating tasks like verifying IDs and processing advance deposits. For this reason, during the current staffing shortage, a key strategy for keeping hotels running smoothly is to implement automation and self-service technology.
There are of course some guests who still want to be greeted by a concierge on arrival. But the 73% of guests who prefer hotels that offer contactless experiences help free up staff to give face-to-face service to those who need it.
2. Flexible check-ins
When guests book online, they hand over most of the information necessary for check-in, but it’s still common to see long lines clogging up a reception area at the start of a busy vacation period.
By facilitating mobile check-in with check-in automation software, you can help minimize those lines and better meet guest expectations of choice and control.
3. Keyless locks
Keyless access is quickly becoming an industry standard, and with the right installation methods, the benefits of keyless locks are now accessible to hotels of all sizes.
Hugely popular with guests who love the speed, safety, and flexibility of keyless locks, our research shows that a massive 96.4% of hospitality professionals say their guests either “expect” or “appreciate” keyless tech.
As well as creating a quick and seamless check-in experience, keyless locks save on hotel operating costs as hoteliers can either reduce or completely eliminate front desk hours. What’s more, check-in staff can move to roles that add greater value to the guest experience.
Meanwhile, with mobile key, your cleaners and maintenance teams can easily navigate your hotel, while activity logs provide you with a history of access to each unit, so you can keep track of guest and staff movement.
Replacing your locks to facilitate mobile access can be expensive. You have to factor in the costs of commercial-grade locks, guest experience software, installation, and maintenance. And, if fire codes have changed since you installed your doors, you may have to change door parts, too.
With Operto Boost, you save on costs by turning your existing locks into BLE smart locks without replacing any hardware. The Boost Smart Chip can quickly be inserted into most commercial hotel locks, giving you access to our suite of guest experience and automation tools.
Install the Boost Smart Chip to your locks and use Operto Guest to provide a branded online check-in experience
Hotel guest expectations: Virtual concierge
A virtual concierge allows you to respond to queries with a remote team, provide insights into services and events, and engage guests with digital content in a way that’s consistent with their other consumer experiences. But these solutions were previously costly and time-consuming to implement.
Now, though, you can be ultra-responsive to guests with branded, digital technology that offers a dedicated, personalized experience. Here, we look at how.
4. Digital guidebooks
Digital guidebooks are a great way to get guests excited about their stay long before they arrive.
Cheaper and more convenient to update than traditional printed guides, a digital guidebook gives you the chance to share practical information like:
- Restaurant opening times
- Hotel amenities
- Embedded videos on how to use in-room devices like the TV or coffee machine
- Wi-Fi information
- Online booking of hotel tours
- Links to information about local attractions
- Information on staying safe and emergency numbers
You’ll save your staff hours of time fielding the same questions about check-out times and Wi-Fi passwords. A helpful and interactive digital guidebook will also strengthen your brand and give you the chance to upsell hotel amenities and activities.
Digital guidebooks empower your guests to be more autonomous and integrate with all the contactless services your hotel offers.
5. Personalized service
Because of the success of short-term rentals where travelers enjoy a personalized guest journey, guests are increasingly looking for more than a cooker-cutter hotel experience. Instead, they want tech-enabled service with extra touches that stand out and speak to your contemporary, caring brand.
The innovative hotel model, Roomza provides a great example of what this can look like in practice. By automating processes and taking away the front desk, Roomza has been able to focus its offering on efficiency, personalization, and flexibility.
For example, before their stay, Roomza guests can digitally select their preferences from a list of options, from the type of pillowcase they'll rest their head on to the brand of coffee they'll wake up to in the morning. Finding ways to implement this level of choice is important to meeting modern guest expectations.
And the information you collect from customers pre-stay can give you insights into how to tailor their in-stay experience. For example, inside Operto Guest, you can ask guests to note if they’re visiting with a small child. Then, with Operto Teams, you can easily create a task for a team member to put a highchair in their room.
Below, we give you some ideas of services you can offer to different profiles of guests to show you understand their needs and expectations:
- In-room workspace
- Transportation to a local conference
- Enterprise-level WiFi
Family with young children
- Children’s activities
- Babysitting service
- In-room facilities (changing table, cot, high chair)
Group of millennial women on a weekend away
- Wellness session at the hotel spa
- Champagne reception
- Ideas for local activities (kayaking, city tour, cooking class)
- Wine tasting evening on the roof terrace
- Ideas for local activities (river cruise, guided tour)
- In-room workspace
- Information about local co-working spaces
- Fast WiFi
- In-room decorations
- Hairdressers and make-up artists
- Champagne welcome for wedding guests
Gen Z couple
- Information about local nightlight and festivals
- Attention to green credentials (energy-saving lights, smart thermostat)
- Vegan menu options
6. In-app messaging
Guest messaging software makes it easy for guests to reach out at any time. Inside a branded web app like Operto Guest, you can provide guests with convenient two-way messaging.
So, any requests or issues can be handled without it affecting your front desk, and guests never have to wait around for the Wi-Fi code or miss out on a great local recommendation during busy periods.
With two-way messaging, your guests never have to wait at the front desk to resolve an issue
Hotel guest expectations: Convenience, convenience, convenience
A guest who needs to make repeated trips to the front desk after their keycard gets demagnetized and stops working is unlikely to leave a positive review. But when you focus on meeting your guests’ expectations for convenience, you’ll be investing in the future success of your business.
Let’s dig into some of the best ways you can maximize guest convenience.
7. Pristine rooms
Managing guests’ rising expectations for cleanliness is a challenge for short-staffed hoteliers. But with hotel management technology and a strong set of standard operating procedures, you can ensure nothing is forgotten and standards are well maintained.
For example, Operto Teams allows you to track the quality of each clean against the time taken so you can review performance and ensure optimum efficiency.
Other features of this task management and reporting solution include:
- Automated scheduling. Operto automatically sets your team’s daily tasks based on availability and booking information taken from your PMS.
- Integration with occupancy data. Your teams can get notifications as soon as a guest checks out so they can begin turnovers without delay.
- Task creation. Your team can set ad-hoc tasks for each other. For example, if your cleaner spots a leaky tap, they easily inform maintenance in the app.
8. Brilliant WiFi service
Remote workers are increasingly choosing to take advantage of their flexibility and stay for long periods. If you want to attract these digital nomads and meet their expectations, a strong, reliable internet service is essential.
An ethernet cable helps ensure a stable service, and it’s also required by many remote employers, so be sure to feature it on your listings.
And, while your connection should be at least 100 Mbps for all guests, you could also offer a pro-level Wi-Fi package at a higher speed as an upsell for business travelers.
9 In-room smart techWith the latest in-room smart thermometers you can automate energy control so that, based on your latest PMS booking information, the temperature is ideal when the guest arrives and set to an energy-saving temperature after they depart. At the same time, noise monitoring sensors alert you to excessive noise based on your pre-set decibel thresholds.
Guest expectations are evolving fast: Keep up with their changing needs to stay relevant
The guests you’re welcoming this year have higher expectations than ever. Not only do they want a personalized experience that caters to their specific needs, they want the latest contactless technology to give them choice and control throughout their stay.
Exceeding guest expectations while grappling with staff shortages might seem an uphill struggle, but by leveraging technological solutions you can improve your guests’ experience while becoming less dependent on staff.
At the heart of this is hotel software that gives your guests the autonomy they crave. With Operto Boost, you can gain access to Operto’s suite of automation and guest experience tools, and offer mobile check-in and access without the cost of replacing your locks.
Giving your guests a five-star stay doesn’t have to mean extra work.
Deliver a digital guest experience your guests and staff love with Operto Guest.
Frequently asked questions about hotel guest expectations
What are guest expectations?
Guest expectations are the amenities, services, and overall customer experience that individuals anticipate when they stay at a hotel. With an acute awareness of guest expectations and how to meet them, you can positively impact the guest experience and strengthen your brand.
How do guests form their expectations?
As short-term rental (STR) and hotel markets merge, guests expect more of the digital, in-app experiences they get at an STR when they stay at a hotel. This means online check-in, keyless access, self-service, and increased personalization.
What are the three most important expectations of guests in a hotel?
The three most important expectations of guests in a hotel are convenience, autonomy, and personalization. People now expect contactless check-in, mobile access, and in-app communication so they can avoid queueing at the front desk.