Part One: Experiential Travel
“It’s when a company intentionally uses services as the stage, and goods as props, to engage individual customers in a way that creates a memorable event." Welcome to the Experience Economy, Harvard Business Review.
For this series, made up of six articles, we are going to start where the hotel guest experience journey actually ends. As we know, experience plays a very large role in driving travel and entertainment sales.
“Over the past few years, personal-consumption expenditures on experience-related services—such as attending spectator events, visiting amusement parks, eating at restaurants, and traveling—have grown more than 1.5 times faster than overall personal-consumption spending and nearly 4.0 times faster than expenditures on goods.” Cashing in on the US Experience Economy
So what is an experience? An experience is a series of memorable events that a hotel stages to engage a guest in an inherently personal way. For example, at Walt Disney World, for every guest, cast members stage a complete production of sights, sounds, tastes, aromas, and textures to create a unique experience.
So how do you enhance the guest experience in hotels? Here are a few examples:
Whitney Peak Hotel Delivers Nicholas Cage
One of my clients in Reno, Whitney Peak Hotel, built the world's tallest climbing wall on the outside of their hotel. This is a huge occupancy driver for them; however, this is not feasible for most hotels, am I right? Well, it goes beyond the big demand drivers like a climbing wall. This same hotel is extremely focused on creating a customer experience as shown by something they did that cost them much less.
When a guest recently checked in to the hotel, the front desk asked if they could do anything else and the guest replied, “Can you get me Nicolas Cage?” The front desk then printed off images of Nick Cage and the hotel staff placed images of him throughout their room during their stay. It became like a Nick Cage scavenger hunt. The guest then shared their story through social media and went viral. Cost: $0.
Snuggle with Puppies at Coast Prince George Hotel by APA
I know many hotels are also doing memorable things like this guest experience example. One of my clients, Coast Prince George Hotel by APA, works with the Humane Society to assist in showcasing the puppies & dogs available for adoption. Giving the guests the opportunity to visit with the animals, take them for walks and snuggle with them which will hopefully give them more of a sense of home.
And as you can see from this TripAdvisor review, this creates memorable moments for their guests and becomes something that guests of their hotel want to share, which again helps tell your story.
Here are some additional ideas to help your hotel create the best guest experience that have come from some of my other hotel clients. I hope these will inspire you!
- Host outdoor activities like bonfires, like Tekarra Lodge and Cragun’s Resort on Gull Lake
- Host morning yoga provided by a local yoga student
- Weekday soiree in the lobby highlighting local F&B, musical guests or artists, like, The Benson, in Portland, OR
- Host a movie night in your event space using a projector
- Update your restaurant to a unique theme around the food and décor, like the King George Hotel in San Francisco
- Provide guests with a small gift like a teddy bear that they can take home with them. Ask them to share photos of them traveling with the bear during their stay, like the Hotel 43 in Boise, ID
- Decorate outdoor common space with white lights to make it more inviting for guests to congregate together over a bottle of wine
When we think of “experiences'' we usually think of the trip itself, but we need to expand our minds beyond the trip and look at the entire hotel booking experience and how we can make it as easy and seamless as possible. The next five parts of this six-part series will break down some of the things that hotels should be doing to help with the booking experience.
- Experiential Travel
- The Customer Journey
- Specials and Packages
- Content Marketing
- Digital Marketing