The Silent Killer Of Hotel Guest Loyalty

By Feature Writer Brett Patten

Poor sleep experience was cited as one of the main reasons for guests not returning.

Before I share my personal experience on this subject.  I would like to first share some numbers from the 2012 JD Power report, that may cause you to have a sleepless night as well. Out of 100% of people who didn't have a good night's sleep during their hotel stay, the main reason cited was the noise level. Only 16% of these hotel guests complained at the time about the noise disturbance. While 57% never told anyone at the hotel of the noise problem or that they did not receive a good night's sleep. Of the 43% that complained the next day, the hotel refunded their money or compensated them. Only 15% were willing to consider using the brand again.

In an overall survey around guest loyalty, one of the biggest contributors to guest attrition rates was found to be the noise level of the hotel when the guest was trying to sleep. Twenty-four percent said this was the main reason for not returning to the hotel property or not using that hotel brand in the future. Sleep is the number one reason why people stay at hotels. If they cannot sleep, all other amenities are useless, and this affects Rev PAR opportunities. Bottom line, the diminished guest experience affects the ability of the business to build brand loyalty capital with the guest, and even returning their money will not help overcome this situation.

My personal sleep experience with one of the leading hotel brands.

In a past business trip, I ended up choosing a hotel brand that very much prided themselves on providing a great sleep experience. It was one of the main reasons why I chose this particular hotel brand and was willing to pay extra, because they differentiated themselves through the sleep experience offering. This was a very important amenity to me since I was putting in solid 12+ hour days in an intensive educational learning program. But, the hotel did not deliver on their promise. I wasn't able to sleep very well during my stay, and it ended up really affecting my performance.

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There was no doubt about it.  This hotel had made heavy investments in the physical elements of the room experience to create a good sleep experience. As a customer experience design specialist, I really appreciated the effort on their part, from the actual bed experience with the very nice bedding as well as the extensive pillow menu. The clock radio offered different sound settings. There's was one critical key element that they forgot to manage in the sleep experience. It was the sound level of the hotel, a.k.a. noise levels.

All those investments, operational commitment and design processes that go in to the sleep experience initiative will have diminishing returns on your investment if you don't manage the sensory aspect of the guest experience, beyond just touch or feel. Guest experiences are very three-dimensional in nature and all the sensory elements of a human being have to be considered as well as the environment that may negatively or positively engage your guest. When creating an exceptional hotel stay it has to go beyond just the touch of the physical aspects of the sleep experience.  Another very important point to bring in the guest experience design process is the emotions you want to invoke in this aspect of the guest experience. It actually should be the starting point of the design process, but so often it's not part of the strategic design process at all. Hence this can create a gap between the brand promise and the brand values being delivered by the business.

For example, what type of emotions do you want your guest to experience from your sleep environment? Do you want to create an experience that makes your guests feel taken care of by your business enterprise that invokes emotions of trust, confidence and love for your business like the way customers love Starbucks or Apple? Then from this point, you want to look at your overall hospitality enterprise on multiple levels, from your business disciplines to your business model as well as your operational processes, on how they align with guest experience excellence business approach. Start asking these simple questions: Does this add to the customer experience or the sleep experience initiative? Does it support or detract from the guest experience? Another important question is does it add value to the guest stay? Is it only supporting customer usage or is it creating guest loyalty value to the company and enhancing the guest satisfaction scores of the property? If it doesn't meet this litmus test, then you should strongly consider discarding anything in your business that's not adding to the guest experience excellence initiatives.

Please! Manage My Sleep Experience.

There is a company in the industry that can help you manage the sleep experience when it comes to the noise levels of your hotel. Their name is Quietyme.

Here are some areas that Quietyme can help support you in providing great guest sleep experiences for your guest and improve your customer loyalty performance as well.

  • Quietyme gives your business the ability to manage and monitor the sound levels throughout the hotel environment in a very efficient and proactive manner, by alerting staff of a sound disturbance either by text, phone, email or chat message within two seconds of the disturbance being detected.
  • This service provides historical data around noise levels of the business enterprise and helps you measure this area of the guest experience, so that you can proactively develop solutions for resolving the situation, i.e. room assignment strategies for creating quiet zones etc…
  • This service can help your business generate stronger ROI. By helping you properly manage the sensory aspect of the sleep experience, so when you do make those investments in the physical aspects of the sleep experience, you receive a strong return on those investments.
  • The Quietyme service puts your business in a position to quickly identify potential incidents that could affect the guest satisfaction with the sleep experience and thus gives you a competitive edge over other hotel brands who lack this technology.
  • With these tools, you can reduce or eliminate complaints by guests, lower comps and discounts while improving the overall guest experience, as well as helping your advocacy position.

It's really not about having a place to stay, as it is so much about having a place to get a good night's sleep.

Customers emotions and expectation go to their highest levels when they're at their most vulnerable, and people are at their most vulnerable when they are sleeping or trying to. When you don't manage the noise level around the sleep experience, you essentially throw your guest out of bed and put them in a bad mood.  If your business is responsible for creating a negative experience with the guests, then they will start looking for evidence to validate their feelings by trying to find all the things that are not measuring up to their standards and expectations. This has a snowballing effect on your guest satisfaction scores and your ability to generate loyal customers. It also affects your day-to-day operations, both on the top and bottom line performance.

This can dramatically affect your occupancy and Rev PAR opportunities. Let me tell you why. With regards to my experience with the hotel, I had four more trips to make to this region that year, with three to four night stays each time. You can do the math. That's a lot of money just on the usage level at $250 a night, not to mention that I will no longer use the brand, and there will be no advocacy benefit either.

About the author

For over thirty years, Brett Patten has worked in the hospitality industry. He spent those years accumulating invaluable insight, knowledge and experience through his various positions, and studies, from when he starting out has a front line employee at the age of 15, with a four-star hotel in the 1980s', to recently completing his education as an executive leadership and engagement coach. Brett's unique management style consistently transformed his work environments by focusing on his people and customers for creating a engaging hospitality experience which generated strong sales and operational performance results. In 2007, Brett launched Fire and Vine of Virginia Beach, a new world wood fire cuisine restaurant built on a hospitality business strategy process that he trademarked and now calls "five-star customer experience design." Within the first two years under Brett's strategic business approach, Fire and Vine was recognized nationally for its hospitality management, design elements, employee development, customer service excellence, culinary cuisine, and wine program.

Today, after spending the last 15 years researching, studying and developing customer experience design best practices and strategy implementation for the hospitality and tourism industries. Brett has created an innovative Hospitality Business leadership and management Program. Which aligns all the business disciplines and strategies through a customer experience design approach, for creating a customer driven brand connection, as well as elevating the engagement dynamics of the business culture for establishing positive customer loyalty and sustainable financial performance results through the generating of exceptional and memorable brand and customer experiences.

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