The holiday season is often the busiest time of the year for the hospitality industry and it’s likely that 2022 holiday travel spending could surpass pre-pandemic levels. Hotels often invest hundreds of hours to outfit their premises in elaborate decor, reservations are likely to increase, and their in-house restaurants do big business accommodating office holiday parties as well as travelers. Tracking and managing all of these details for the holiday rush can be daunting as you work to provide superior customer service and an unsurpassed experience. Hotels who are not only prepared for their guests, but also any curve balls that may come their way, have the leg up during the holiday season.
What is the Holiday Rush?
The holiday rush is the time period from December 23rd through January 1st when many Americans will travel at least 50 miles from their homes. With that increased travel comes increased demand for hotels, who are expected to accommodate more travelers even if it exceeds their average guest numbers. Hotels who are prepared and who can successfully manage more guests stand to gain income as well as a reputation boost. In an age in which online peer reviews are everything, the potential rewards are great.
Tips for a Great Guest Experience During the Holidays
Here are a few customer service pointers for hotels to consider before the holiday rush:
Be Creative with Holiday Decorations
Create a distinctly festive environment. By all means, deck the halls, but make an effort to put your property’s signature stamp on holiday decorating. Put up trees and lights, place some (electric) candles around, or spray seasonal scents in the hotel. Make everything cozy and merry to give your guests the feeling they’re at home. Attempt to add elements of surprise to your holiday decorating theme and find ways to incorporate fun and creative new elements into your annual holiday display. However, make sure not to overdo the decorations and make it too tacky.
You must also take into account that people from different ethnicities and religions might check in to your hotel, so make sure that your staff are ready to deal with cultural diversity. Along with Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, and the Winter Solstice are also celebrated during this season. To make your guests feel welcome, be willing to take down or change the festive room decorations. If your hotel has a restaurant, offer other options for holiday dinners, such as meals without pork or with halal ham or bacon, for example.
Find a way to stand out from the crowd. Regardless of your holiday decor, you can ALWAYS provide your guests with an amazing experience. Focus on providing an unprecedented guest experience by scheduling extra housekeepers, front desk agents, and bell staff to give them that true “wow” experience.
Provide a Holiday Concierge
To provide your guests with an amazing experience have a holiday concierge available. Holiday hotel guests typically don’t want to hunker down during their stay, they want to experience the array of special events taking place on or near your property. Assign a holiday concierge to help guests find their desired experience. The holiday concierge should research holiday events, connect with local entertainment outlets, and coordinate special deals. If you help guests create a memorable holiday, you may create loyalty that lasts for years to come.
Offer Holiday Packages and Gift Cards
Offer holiday packages that incorporate winter activities to local attractions like ski passes, ice skating, restaurants, or a shopping mall voucher for them to buy their gifts. In your restaurant, offer your guests a holiday dinner and a special delivery of champagne to their room on New Year’s Eve. You can also leave small trinkets in your rooms, such as magnets or key chains with your hotel brand. If someone is enjoying their holiday stay in your hotel, give them the opportunity to share that experience with their loved ones. Offer gift cards for nights at the hotel and meals in your hotel restaurants. Be creative and keep in mind that your guests will always remember how well they were treated.
Adjust Hotel Staffing for Seasonal Needs
Typically, more than 80% of online consumers check reviews before making a purchase, and over two-thirds of those consumers think reviews are “generally accurate.” When a guest has a negative experience, their bad review could interfere with incoming bookings for many holiday seasons to come. You’re going to need more staff – it’s as simple as that. So begin talking to your employees now to determine their availability and recruit seasonal help as early as possible. Your front desk must be staffed at all times, and you should have enough staff on hand, including cleaning staff who can turn over rooms at an efficient pace.
Give Staff an Incentive to Excel During the Holiday Rush
Not only is staffing an issue across the industry, everyone loves to take time off at the holidays. However, most hotel employees do not have that luxury. If your staff is working long hours at a fully booked hotel while their families are home celebrating, make it worth their while. Offer incentives to staff members during the holidays. They could be performance based or they could be based on holiday hours worked. Money or a gift card can go a long way to showing your appreciation for staff who provide an amazing experience for your guests.