Guest trust has always been one of the most important intangibles for Innkeepers. It’s not always easy to determine what factors into a guest’s trust equation, since it’s a totally individual assessment — one that is in the so-called “eyes of the beholder.”
A somewhat unique quality of trust may be that it is easier to determine when you have gained it than when it has been lost. Using the example of a car purchase … when a potential buyer walks out of a dealership because they lack trust, how likely are they to explain that is the reason they have decided to go elsewhere?
To continue with this example … a car buyer may lose trust if the dealership’s showroom isn’t clean and welcoming, or if a buyer doesn’t feel they can trust the salesperson giving them information about the cars they may be interested in purchasing.
Now, let’s shift this analogy to the Innkeeper. Guests tend to book their stays based on sound recommendations from friends and family, a previous enjoyable stay, or an intuitive sense of trust when researching and booking their rooms. So, when a guest books their stay, the Innkeeper already has a certain level of trust that has been established. What is essential from that point forward is how the Innkeeper will enhance and nurture the initial trust given to them by the guest.
It’s at this point that the car buyer analogy has meaning, though the goal for Innkeepers is not to sell, but to build guest trust — and ultimately, loyalty — by providing the best possible experience for all aspects of their stay, with the result being future bookings, recommendations to friends and family, and/or positive reviews.
With this goal comes the elusive question of what is important for an Innkeeper to gain guest trust and loyalty. And while our assumption is that every guest has their own unique way of assessing this during their stay experience, let’s attempt to identify some parameters by first breaking them down into two distinct parts — the On-Property and the Off-Property Experience.
For the On-Property Experience, some tangible parameters that play into the feeling of comfort and ultimately trust are the cleanliness of your rooms, quality of your property’s furnishings, and the details you provide such as soaps, towels, and linens. The more intangible parameters revolve around the personable interaction and service you provide throughout your guest’s stay. Both are essential to building guest trust, fully within the control of the Innkeeper, and core to their mission.
For the Off-Property Experience, the Innkeeper has less control. However, this needs to be a core focus, because guests inherently rely upon an Innkeeper’s indispensable knowledge to recommend the best local experiences, thereby making their stay so memorable that they return or recommend them among their social circle. Because no matter how delightful a guest’s On-Property Experience is, their Off-Property Experience is likely to resonate heavily with their overall stay.
Prior to the existence of the Internet, independent Innkeepers had an advantage over larger providers because they were the only source of local information guests could get, through word-of-mouth. This has changed, with the advent of sites like Yelp and Google, and larger hospitality providers offering guests mobile applications that recommend local experiences.
The reality is that Innkeepers still have the best knowledge of Off-Property Experiences for their guests, but how can they communicate them? Listing recommendations on their website isn’t sufficient, because guests need a mobile app that helps them easily choose and navigate to these places. Yet most Innkeepers don’t have the resources to build their own mobile app to compete with the larger players in today’s digital landscape.
Our solution is the Frictionless Guest App, to provide Innkeepers with a way that their guests can easily find the best local experiences and thereby gain their trust. Our hope is that Innkeepers share our vision that they are the best source for this information and want to improve the Off-Property Experience of their guests.