The top eight sources of satisfaction and dissatisfaction

The world of hotels and their communications systems continues to evolve. It is becoming extremely difficult to overlook new trends and tools while, in view of recent developments, TripAdvisor has announced that it will improve its systems for detecting fake reviews. As for Booking.com, it is now the most important online platform for guest reviews.

No matter what, you need to continue your climb up the rankings: how can you achieve this without checking the box marked “millions of euros spent on upgrades?”

Hotels often ask me what the key points are in order to make their guests happy and avoid dissatisfied customers. Here, therefore, is a result of the analysis of our last 20,000 guest surveys:

Wi-Fi and internet connection

No real surprise here. Wi-Fi and internet connections are clearly the number one source of dissatisfaction.

Indeed, what is the best way to ruin a stay? Quite simply, by preventing a business traveler from working or a tourist from browsing their favorite social networks.

Don’t skimp on the costs involved. Invest what is needed to ensure that your guests have a perfect connection.

A little tip: forget systems that only offer a single internet connection for the entire property. Invest in at least one line for every ten rooms and equip every floor with Wi-Fi access points, as the major problem is the number of users per internet connection. You must therefore reduce this number by increasing the number of available connections.

Breakfast

Second point of dissatisfaction: breakfast.

Look at things from your guests’ perspective and ask if you would be ready to pay the price demanded for that particular breakfast. If the answer is a firm no, or even “For that amount, I’d prefer to have breakfast in the café around the corner which has an amazing terrace,” that means that you need to rethink your approach.

A little tip: if you make breakfast free when guests book with you directly, you gain twice over. You encourage users to book directly (thereby saving you from having to pay commission) and you reduce the risk of guests being disappointed in the standard of service they receive for the price. Overall, you come out ahead.

Facilities in the rooms

Rooms that are too small are rarely a real problem for your guests. Of course, they may raise that as an issue, but when you delve a little deeper, it is their assessment of the facilities that you provide that dominates their overall view of their experience.

Sleep in a room and experience what your guests experience. Details that appear trivial will come to light that could completely change the quality of a stay.

  • Can guests plug in their phones next to the bed?
  • Do they have the choice of watching several TV channels in their own language?
  • Do they have a coffeepot or kettle to prepare their own tea or coffee?
  • If guests forget their toothbrushes, electrical adaptor, or any other accessory, can you fix the issue for them?
  • And so on.

These modest facilities are not expensive but, when combined, these small details make a big difference and your guests will “feel at home.”

Comfort and convenience

The standard of comfort in the property is ranked just after the facilities in the room. This is not so surprising. The amenity of the hotel, aside from the aspect of comfortable beds, chairs, etc. is directly impacted by the various facilities in the property.

To repeat the example above, if you can’t plug your phone in next to your bed, it’s a real inconvenience and guests experience it as such. Double down on your efforts to improve the facilities that are provided for your guests.

Conclusion on sources of dissatisfaction

The devil is in the detail! Yes, it’s the little, practical details that determine whether or not your guests are satisfied. It is obviously vital to ensure that your hotel is clean, well-decorated, and well-located, but the details that impact everyday life make a big difference.

Because it is sometimes very difficult to recognize these details for yourself, don’t hesitate to hire specialist companies that can provide an audit or mystery shoppers. It’s a good investment, as they can help you to discover all the issues that you need to address.

Geographic location

No surprises here! We all know the importance of a good location for your hotel and, it is precisely this point that is most able to make your guests happy.

Nevertheless, contrary to received ideas, an imperfect location is practically never something you can’t do anything about. In reality, it’s always about communicating and knowing your neighborhood.

For years, I have followed the marketing activities of a hotel that is a few meters outside the Périphérique, the inner beltway in southern Paris. In other words, this hotel has little going for it and could hardly be called a “downtown hotel.” And yet… I am currently noting a 94% satisfaction score with its geographic location from its tourist guests. How can this be possible?

The answer is really very simple. The hotel is marketed with this message: “Direct access to the heart of Paris” (a message which reflects reality, of course). All the hotel’s communication over the last decade has focused on this one particular aspect. The same goes for the telephone hold message, which informs potential guests that they will have direct access to all the city’s major sights.

At the end of the day, this hotel is cheaper than a comparable hotel in the heart of the city. These guests therefore save money on their accommodation, and they do indeed have “direct access to the heart of the city.” They are therefore delighted.

You can improve your satisfaction rates by finding the right angle and the relevant information to give to your guests to describe your geographic location.

The second point to address in this paragraph relates to the area surrounding the hotel and the recommendations that you give to your guests. Ensure that your staff has a good knowledge of the locations that are recommended near your hotel, whether to make your guests’ lives easier (which also impacts on how comfortable they feel in the property) or to provide a more customized experience.

You can totally transform an initial impression that “This hotel is poorly located” into a view that “This hotel is surrounded by a bunch of really good places, it’s a nice place to be” simply by getting to know your neighborhood a little better.

The quality of the service and the staff

Are your premises and your bedding really all that important?

Yes, they are, that’s a fact – but they’re not as important as your personnel. Your staff are one of the major sources of satisfaction for your guests: “A good bed will never make up for a poor reception. On the other hand, great customer service can make the poor quality of the bedding more palatable.”

Even though it’s better to be perfect in all respects, this is sometimes very complicated and often very expensive. Therefore, you need to set priorities. In this list, your staff will always come first.

I’ve come across “bad” staff in hotels. However, I’ve often noticed that these team members are not ill-intentioned: they simply haven’t had the right training, or at least not enough. You must invest in their training, and do so continuously. It’s worth noting that professional training can be funded entirely from your statutory training budget, so why make do without it – and why miss out on guest satisfaction as a result?

Cleanliness of the hotel and the rooms

Let’s remind ourselves of this once again: one of the most important aspects for your guests doesn’t require you to check the box marked “millions of euros spent on upgrades.” It is simply a case of having rooms and common areas that are completely clean.

Apart from equipment that has become worn out or dirty over time and that needs changing, this point is actually aimed at your staff and their level of engagement with the hotel. Your housekeeping staff and your head housekeeper are key to bringing home this third point.
In addition to being a good manager who can motivate the entire team, I recommend that you implement reward systems that are evaluated based on the different satisfaction scores obtained via the web, for a win/win system.

Your staff will be happy and will give their best effort. You will increase your online profile and your average room rate. There is nothing to lose – in fact, quite the opposite.

The hotel’s decor and atmosphere

The famous check box “millions of euros spent on upgrades” finally comes in fourth place. Guests will show their pleasure if you have a very well-decorated hotel, with an atmosphere that suits. However, this will only be the fourth thing that they look at.

If you are currently planning to get work done (or if you are upgrading at the moment), take part of your budget and transfer it to training and motivating your staff.

Conclusion

You can improve your guest satisfaction rates very simply: you need to market your property correctly, with the right communications message, and you must have properly trained staff who listen to your guests’ needs.

I hope that this analysis will help you to evaluate your future investments more effectively, and I’ll see you again with the next article!

In the meantime, please don’t hesitate to comment or ask questions in the comments section below.