9 Hotel Guest Expectations and How to Exceed Them

Visitor numbers and bookings are up, bringing much-needed respite to the hospitality industry. But in the last decade, and particularly since the pandemic, travelers have evolved to want more control and choice over their stay. 

And just as guest expectations are changing and putting pressure on hotels to offer more, the hospitality staffing crisis is making it harder than ever to meet guest needs.

In this article, we’ve fielded the opinions of industry insiders to bring you a list of 9 guest expectations that all hotels should strive to meet. 

We’ll explain how you can give your guests the flexibility they crave on their own terms, and give you tips on how you can leverage technology to exceed guest expectations.

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

So much has changed since the pandemic, it’s worth taking a fresh look at what today’s travelers want from their hotel experience and how this can inform your hotel guest engagement strategy

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 see 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

A contactless experience is much more than a convenient way of saving time—it minimizes contact between guests and staff so everyone can keep a safe distance from each other. And during the current staffing shortage in hospitality, contactless automation has proved essential for keeping hotels running smoothly.

Image showing the stages in a contactless hotel experience

Self-service technology on mobile devices can give guests an entirely contactless experience throughout their stay

There are of course some guests who still want to be greeted by a concierge on arrival. But the 71% of guests who favor self-service technology will 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 a hotel online check-in, but it’s still common to see long lines clogging up a reception area at the start of a busy vacation period.

But by using hotel check-in automation to give your guests the option of flexible self check-in as part of their hotel guest journey, you can help minimize those lines and better meet their expectations of choice and control.

Using contactless check-in for hotels empowers guests to kick their vacation off on their terms, and takes pressure away from your front desk staff.

3. Keyless locks

Keyless access to hotel rooms used to be the preserve of big players like Hilton and Marriot. But it’s  become an industry standard that’s accessible to hotels of all sizes, branded or independent.

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.

More secure than physical keys, and impossible to lose, every team member gets a unique access code to enter each room. Plus, activity logs provide you with a history of access to each unit, so you can keep track of guest and staff movements.  

Keyless locks are simple to manage and help give modern guests the independence they’re looking for.

Need an all-in-one tech stack for your hotel? Create a seamless guest experience to match your guests’ expectations with Operto Tech.

Hotel guest expectations: In-app customer service

In-app customer service simplifies guests’ lives, giving them the flexibility to choose check-in times and housekeeping preferences in the palm of their hand. 

Big hotel chains like Hyatt have had their own downloadable apps for some time. But nowadays web-based tools bringing personalized customer service to guests offer an economical solution to independent boutique hotels.

Let’s look at some of the ways you can use in-app customer service to delight guests and exceed their expectations.

4. In-app messaging

Guest messaging software makes it easy for guests to reach out wherever they are. With a branded web app, you can provide guests with a digital front desk service, quickly answering questions about hotel amenities and upselling extras like room service or special offers from local partners.

You can also choose to have an offsite team managing guest communications. As well as taking pressure off front-desk staff, you’ll immediately improve response times, and associate your brand with the streamlined and efficient messaging service you provide.

5. 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

  • WiFi 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 WiFi 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.

6. Personalized service

A hotel stay might sometimes feel like it’s missing the charm of a small guest house experience, but when you offer guests a personalized service, you show them you’re responding to their needs and staying up to date with the latest boutique hotel trends.

The information you collect from your guests during booking and check-in can give you invaluable insight into the sorts of things they might like to do during their stay. And you can use this information to send notifications about special treats and upsells that add real value to their experience.

In the table below, we give you some ideas of services that you can offer to different profiles of guests, to show you understand their needs and expectations:


Personalized services

Business traveler

  • In-room workspace

  • Transportation to local conference

  • Enterprise-level WiFi

Family with young children

  • Children’s activities

  • Babysitting service

  • In-room facilities (changing table, cot, etc.)

Group of millennial women on a weekend away

  • Wellness session at the hotel spa

  • Champagne reception

  • Ideas for local activities e.g. kayaking, city tour

Boomer couple

  • Wine tasting evening on the roof terrace

  • Ideas for local activities e.g. river cruise

Digital nomad

  • In-room workspace

  • Information about local co-working spaces

  • Fast WiFi

Wedding party

  • 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 e.g. energy-saving lights

  • Vegan menu options

Want to give your guests the choice and control they expect? Create a fluid guest experience that responds to their preferences with Operto Guest.

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. In-room smart tech

With the latest in-room tech 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.

Hotel staff can control hotel room temperature remotely with smart thermostats.

8. Pristine rooms

A new concept of ‘certified clean’ has emerged in the last couple of years. Different hotels and travel agents have their own criteria, but it usually involves the following:

  • A checklist of cleaning procedures

  • Using disinfectant products in addition to normal cleaning products

  • Ensuring staff don’t have Covid symptoms

  • Requiring cleaning staff to wear masks

  • Limiting contact between cleaning staff and guests

  • Opening doors and windows to ventilate rooms

  • Washing bed linen and towels at higher temperatures

The new protocols have proved popular with guests, and a 2021 study found that 57% of guests would pay more for a room that was certified clean. And not meeting guests’ high standards of cleanliness and hygiene could lead to requests for a change of room or even hotel. 

Managing guests’ rising expectations for cleanliness and hygiene is a challenge for short-staffed hoteliers. But hotel management software provides a solution with technology to monitor guests and staff within an all-in-one dashboard, while scheduling algorithms integrated with mobile devices coordinate staff.

9. Brilliant WiFi service

It’s likely that some of your guests will either be digital nomads or at least want to work for part of the time. Even when they’re not working, visitors like to bring their laptops and tablets to catch up on their favorite series. So giving guests the best WiFi on offer is a must. 

If you can, offer a reliable 5G or WiFi 6 service and immediately eliminate one of the most common sources of frustration among hotel guests.

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 guest experience software that gives your guests the autonomy they crave.

Want to give your guests the choice and control they expect? Create a fluid guest experience 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.

What are the three most important expectations of guests in a hotel?

The three most important expectations of guests in a hotel are cleanliness, communication, and comfort. Make sure your rooms meet the latest standards for cleanliness and hygiene. Customer satisfaction relies on good communication and ensuring your rooms and amenities offer guests the comfort they deserve.

What should guests expect from a luxury hotel?

Guests should expect a very high level of comfort from a luxury hotel. Making sure guests get a restful sleep is paramount, so luxury hotels should ensure guests have a beautifully designed, comfortable, and quiet room with luxury bed linen and pillows. Other luxury hotel amenities include room service, a pool, and a gym.

What is most important to hotel guests?

The most important factor for guests when choosing a hotel is cleanliness and hygiene. Since the pandemic, hotels more than ever need to maintain impeccable cleaning standards.