The hospitality industry has transformed in recent years, shifting a focus from only providing spaces, to prioritizing guest experience. Modern travelers expect to not only have a comfortable place to stay, but also to create memories during their stay. Delivering on these expectations is critical for hospitality operators, as it directly impacts business performance in revenue, growth and more.
This is why attaining an outstanding guest experience is a hot topic in the hospitality space, for both vacation rentals and hotels. A significant influx of technology companies entering the space just proves this trend.
To further explore the topic of increasing hospitality revenue with exceptional guest experience, we’ve invited experts for a hands-on webinar.
Our hospitality expert speakers
The Co-founder and CEO of Enso Connect, a dynamic AI-driven guest experience platform for hospitality professionals.
Enso Connect is digitizing and monetizing guest experience for 20,000+ properties in 53+ countries, processing over a million guest profiles.
Francois is a recognized young tech leader and innovator in the hospitality landscape.
Manoli is the Head of Guest Services at Angel Host, the revenue-maximizing service in the short-term rental industry. Angel Host creates and integrates advanced tech solutions, proprietary revenue algorithms and a genuine human connection. Property Managers worldwide outperform their market with Angel Host as it takes care of channel distribution, dynamic pricing strategies, guest communications and reservations.
With over 25 years of experience in the hospitality industry, Manoli has successfully founded and developed the Guest Services Department at Angel Host, offering online services for over 700 properties worldwide.
Alexandra is a Senior Business Development Manager at Guesty, the leading property management platform for short-term rentals.
Particularly in the US Guesty offers an end-to-end solution that covers everything across the STR operation, including guest management, experience communications and everything through to distribution, accounting, insurance, and more. Beyond the in-house guest experience solutions, Guesty has a wide marketplace of seamlessly integrated partners, like Enso Connect.
In case you missed this or would like to revisit the conversation, here is the recap of the webinar.
Airbnb reported a 16% increase in inventory and supply in Q4, indicating that the market is more competitive than ever before. This means that hosts will need to find innovative ways to delight guests and increase revenue.
We had a chance to listen to Manoli Gonzalez from Angel Host, a tech-enabled hospitality operator. Manoli shared how the company leverages exceptional guest experience to generate more revenue for customers.
Here is what we learned
- Behind the scenes of a hospitality brand’s customer service operations
- Top 5 guest experience areas with significant revenue impact
- The significance of technology in driving performance in hospitality
- Strategies to balance technology and personal touch
- Top 3 guest data points to balance automation and personalization
- How hospitality tech is expected to enhance guest experience and revenue
- Pains of adopting technology in a hospitality business
- Primary resources of staying informed on innovation in hospitality
Behind the scenes of a hospitality brand’s customer service operations
During the round of introductions, we learned about Manoli’s experience and her role in Angel Host. She shared the company’s unique approach to guest experience and how she fulfills this mission.
We asked Manoli to walk us through her typical day as a manager of 700 properties and thousands of guests. The way she structures and prioritizes tasks to ensure everything runs smoothly. From verification, to answering messages of guests quickly, and all of the special requests.
The role of Head of Guest Services at Angel Host
Manoli is overseeing the customer service team within Angel Host. They take care of guests from the initial inquiry, throughout the reservation, and addressing any needs until the departure day. This also includes managing guest reviews and claims along with other post-stay related aspects.
Angel Host’s secret sauce is their team of professionals that leverage technology to convert enquiries into bookings. They have developed a system comprising three elements that result in a highly-converting listing. These elements are an optimized rate, professional photography, and copywriting, helping the listing appear higher in travel sites’ search results.
How a customer services department works
Manoli informed us that she does not personally work 24 hours a day, but her team does. Angel Host has a group of customer service agents in three different time zones. This means that regardless of your location and timing, someone from the team will respond to you within 10 minutes.
Each agent has a cluster in the inbox assigned to them. The tech allows us to filter properties by location or property manager. Each agent becomes a specialist in their own cluster of properties, having a more personal contact with the customers.
Guest verification is an important part of the job. Thanks to the automations in place the process is streamlined, and the team verifies all the documents before approval. They also double check that the information is sent accurately, correctly, and at the right time.
Task prioritization is happening through automated internal reminders to the team. For example, employees get reminders to tag completed tasks, to check the pool heating or guests’ transportation requests, among others. The reminders and internal messages are triggered by specific set conditions to ensure that nothing is overlooked.
What aspects of guest experience impact revenue the most?
We asked for our speakers’ opinions on the guest journey areas that impact both guest experience and revenue the most.
Manoli Gonzalez shared the top three “dangerous” moments that can affect the experience of your guests and your revenue.
The first inquiry
This is where people want instant reply, regardless of time of the day or week. When travelers in today’s world are looking for answers, they expect to get responses immediately. If you don’t provide this rapid response, you are missing out on the booking and upsell opportunities.
The situation can be very stressful for guests, and operators often underestimate the importance of accuracy in pre-arrival messages. In reality, if someone arrives at a property and the online check-in instructions do not make sense, it can create frustration. Imagine if it rains outside and you can’t find a door code or the code doesn’t work. What an unfortunate start to a vacation.
This is, unfortunately, a very necessary tool that allows Angel Host to protect their owners and properties. The company assumes the responsibility of preventing fraud, parties and other risky occurrences that may arise due to unruly guests.
However, people generally dislike doing paperwork. A user-friendly way to verify oneself, such as click through and upload photos, makes it easier for guests to comply. In contrast, sending complicated forms that take users away from the platform can create friction and irritate guests.
Alexandra Mandel from Guesty completed the list by identifying the areas with the greatest potential for revenue. According to the experience of Guesty users, these areas include repeat customers, direct bookings and upselling opportunities.
There are numerous opportunities for upselling throughout the entire customer journey that enhance guests’ stay and drive additional revenue. Airport transfers, parking spaces, early check-in and late check-out, a fully stocked fridge, culinary and experiential add-ons, souvenirs and more. The sky’s the limit. Your success depends on your ability to effectively offer and deliver these options, partnering with local services in real time.
Bringing back guests through a direct booking channel will likely generate the highest revenue for a hospitality business. This is achieved by encouraging repeat guests, share their positive experience with friends and book directly with your business. There are numerous effective ways to accomplish this. CRM, guest loyalty programs, next stay discounts and keeping your brand top of mind throughout the year and every special occasion.
Audience poll results
The importance of using tech for a high-performing hospitality business
We asked our speakers for their perspectives on how technology improves the overall guest experience and increases revenue in hospitality.
Manoli shared that Angel Host works with a wide variety of property managers and owners. From a retiree, wanting to greet guests in person to a huge Californian villas manager that needs help day-to-day. Angel Host leverages technology, such as Guesty, Enso and other software to remove the mundane tasks and focus on growth.
Alexandra is regularly seeing new tech in this category. She says that there is no limit to how technology can boost guest satisfaction and revenue.
There’s such a huge breadth of providers in this category. We saw everything from providing specialized equipment, keyless access to more unique things like tracking guest flights, providing transportation, etc. Many focus on professionalization of the market, providing such tools as digital guidebooks, concierge services, etc. This gives us a sense of how “guest obsessed” property managers could be. And of course these opportunities are being monetized.
The tech is really that piece, allowing the operationalization of these different opportunities at scale. It is replacing a lot of manual work that becomes no longer possible when hospitality operators grow their portfolio.
Francois added that as the short-term rental industry moves towards professionalization, operators experience rapid growth. When the number of properties goes beyond 10, using technology is absolutely necessary. Otherwise you will be adding more humans to deal with things that can be automated.
Strategies to balance technology and personal touch in hospitality
Francois asked Manoli how she finds the right balance using technology for automation and maintaining a personal touch with guests. They continued to discuss the role of data and analytics in enhancing the guest experience and boosting revenue.
Manoli is a big data and analytics advocate. She says “ the more you study the data, the more you can automate, but also personalize the communication”. Using custom variables is an amazing way of personalizing your messages. Because some properties would need information about the pool, the other ones – about the pet, etc.
The guests tagged as bringing a pet, indicate an opportunity to charge a pet fee or offer pet amenities. And even when your guests know it’s an automated message, they appreciate that extra mile made for their pets.
Another example, when people are flying on a Sunday night to Tulum. You know that going to a supermarket after such a flight would be a pain. To be a hospitable host, you can offer them to save this time and provide a supply of water, ice and groceries on demand. Our people are using that information that the technology provides us to create a better experience. And of course we make money from it, so everybody wins.
In order to achieve this win-win effect, you need a human reading that information and acting on it immediately. What’s the point of asking what’s your estimated time for a rival if you don’t offer them an early check in?
Top data points for balancing automation and personalization
When asked what information and guest preferences are important to the Angel Host team, Manoli provided her top three:
To be able to communicate with guests in their preferred language, including guidebooks, agreements, messaging when possible, etc.
The purpose of the trip
Either coming for holiday or if it’s a family reunion or if it’s a group of friends coming on a vacation. You need to know what to expect and what services to offer for a personalised experience.
Number and age of the guests
Sometimes property owners are not very comfortable with a group of young people that come for a spring break. It’s part of Angel Hosts’ responsibility to filter this information and get on the same page with the owners.
Audience poll results
The expectation of hospitality tech to boost guest experience and revenue in the coming years
We asked Alexandra about her vision of the future of hospitality tech. How will it continue to support short-term rental businesses in streamlining revenue and increase guest satisfaction?
Alexandra agrees that the industry is heading towards unified platforms that effectively integrate all aspects of better guest experience. This is what Guesty has observed as the market’s demand. Property managers don’t want three to five different providers in their guest service tech stack. They want all this in one place, hence consolidation and seamless connectivity is where we are headed in the future.
Francois added that seamless connectivity is going to come through API connected marketplaces with real integrations. Through syncing custom fields, and all the data from all those connected systems.
Francois believes that consolidation should be approached in a way that preserves innovation, keeping it from being stifled by monopolies.
Pains of adopting technology in a hospitality business
We discussed some of the biggest challenges Angel Host faces when it comes to integrating technology into operations. We asked to share some best practices for training staff on new technology and ensuring seamless implementation.
Manoli commented that the Guesty and Enso Connect integration is a great way to elevate Angel Host’s operations and business. Guesty provides the company with all the support with booking process and online travel agencies (OTA) connections. While Enso has this “clickable thing” that people want on their mobile phones, a mobile app called the Boarding Pass.
The biggest challenge in new initiatives and new ways to do things in companies is resistance to change. The resistance can come both from the team and the owners. It can be solved by showing how the new tools work and how they simplify their work and lives.
With the abundance of software available, clients have grown accustomed to using specific types of locks, verification tools and other features. To maintain our high standards we must cater to these demands by streamlining our processes and ensuring that our automation functions seamlessly across all channels. Way back in time we used printed check-in lists and other documents to keep everything under control. Technology now gives us the opportunity to simplify these tasks.
Main sources of information about tech and innovation in hospitality
We asked speakers how they stay up-to-date with the latest technology trends in the vacation rental and hotel industry.
The audience and speakers identified webinars, conferences, podcasts and trade publications as the primary source for staying up to date in the industry. The necessary information is readily available; however, one needs time to filter and consume it.
As hospitality technology is rapidly evolving, it’s crucial to stay current at all times.