Welcoming Guests Back to Travel: 3 Guest Experience Priorities for Hotels

Guest experience priorities for hotels

The pandemic has negatively affected many industries, but arguably none more severely than travel and hospitality. This sector has dealt with many challenges, from having to quickly adapt their policies and procedures to being forced to halt operations altogether around the globe, and facing staggering labor shortages. While the industry is recovering, it is no surprise that these challenges have affected the hotel guest experience. 

What is the state of the hotel guest experience in 2021? How are hotel guests adapting to the service changes brought on by the pandemic? What are they most vocal about, and what suggestions do they offer companies on how they can improve their guest experience?

 To tackle these questions and more, Medallia’s Strategy Analytics Team (MSAT) analyzed millions of hotel guest experience signals. Here are the key learnings and insights we uncovered that travel and hospitality brands can learn from as they plan for 2021 holiday travel and the 2022 vacation planning season. 

About Our Analysis

Using Medallia’s Global Social Benchmarking, our MSAT team identified industry level trends in reviews and scores from the top social sites in the hospitality space. 

Our analysis also included a comparison of trends for the 2019 and 2021 summer travel period to understand how the conversation has shifted, and to help hotels know where to focus and invest their limited resources. 

In addition to online reviews, we analyzed post-stay survey feedback from Medallia’s largest hotel clients to uncover three key topics and surface suggestions and ideas. To identify actionable feedback, we harnessed the power of Medallia’s Action Intelligence to automatically discover guest suggestions and ideas.

 Guest experience priorities for hotels

 3 Guest Experience Priorities for Hotels

Guests are less satisfied now than they were before the pandemic. Across the industry, ratings from review sites are 5% lower than in 2019, and this trend is even more pronounced when differentiated by chain scale, with economy hotel ratings dropping the most, by 9%, and luxury hotel ratings experiencing a slight drop of 1%.

Guest experience priorities for hotels

Unsurprisingly, the operational and service changes implemented to support the health and safety of guests and employees are driving gaps in the hotel guest experience. Where are the biggest opportunities for hotel companies and how can they move forward? Let’s zoom in on what guests are telling us. 

 #1 Cleanliness has never been more important

With the pandemic shining a spotlight on cleaning, disinfecting, and sanitation, clean hotel rooms, and in particular clean hotel bathrooms, have never been more important.

 Lumpy beds and itchy bathrobes may be uncomfortable, but hotel guests are more likely to be turned off by dirt, hair, or dust in their room. In the bathroom, guests are highly sensitive to seeing hair, debris, or mold, as well as obvious signs of previous occupants (i.e., an opened bar of soap in the shower). During the pandemic summer travel, many more guests encountered noticeably dirty rooms and bathrooms upon arrival, leaving them with a negative impression of the hotel.

 Suggested Action

To ensure rooms and bathrooms are cleaned thoroughly, brands should be laser focused on processes they likely already have in place, or begin taking these steps now:

  • Use a detailed checklist for all housekeeping staff to follow to consistently meet cleaning standards 
  • Conduct random audits and quality control checks
  • Recognize individuals for their extra efforts and showcase what excellence looks like by sharing guest feedback about sparkling clean rooms and bathrooms with the frontline. 

 Guest experience priorities for hotels

This is sample guest feedback from our analysis

#2 Changes in housekeeping: On the itinerary or off?

Changes to daily housekeeping service, which were reduced or eliminated altogether in some hotels, was also a considerable pain point. Based on our analysis, most guests understand the need to modify housekeeping services during a pandemic, however they also expressed frustration about the lack of proactive communication on whether or not housekeeping would be offered. 

Communication is key — it’s important to be transparent about any relevant housekeeping changes and ensure guests are notified of these changes in advance, both of which can help set the right expectations.

Suggested Action

Ensure any changes to the daily housekeeping service:

  • Are clearly communicated during the booking process
  • Are reinforced through pre-arrival emails, as well as check-in notifications sent via text or mobile app

 Once at the hotel, support the need for extra bathroom amenities (i.e., towels, tissues, toilet paper, etc.) that are no longer replenished due to the elimination of daily housekeeping service. 

This can be accomplished by providing stocked amenity carts on each floor to allow guests to self-serve when they need clean towels or more shampoo. Additionally, provide guests an easy way to empty their trash containers, as trash can quickly fill up when not being emptied daily, especially for traveling families. Ensure hotel management staff have access to direct and timely feedback, so they can monitor if self-serve options positively impact guest feedback related to cleanliness.

#3 Breakfast is the most important meal of the day

The pandemic drastically changed hotel breakfast options and service, turning freshly- prepared hot meals into grab-and-go, pre-sealed meals served cold. And while it may have been accepted at the onset of the pandemic, guests are no longer as forgiving now. Guests clearly perceive a lack of variety and nutritional breakfast options. A decline in the quality of breakfast was also a noticeable trend.

 Guest experience priorities for hotels

This is sample guest feedback from our analysis

Suggested Action

The message on this one is clear – it’s time for hotels to bring back the pre-pandemic breakfast experience. Nearly two years later, we have enough knowledge and experience to be able to deliver the breakfast service and menu of the past and do it in a safe manner. 

Hotels can use feedback to assess how guests feel about the hot breakfast experience you’re able to deliver given potential supply chain and staffing challenges, and make adjustments as necessary.

Looking Ahead

Travel is back. And now more than ever, your guests will expect you to get the basics right, every time. For now, that means keeping guests informed about changes to service and amenities, offering a clean room, and serving a hot breakfast.    

How well is your hotel delivering on what guests want? Are you actively capturing and acting on guest feedback to continually improve your guest experience to ensure repeat bookings?


Learn more about how to uncover deep insights and identify actionable improvement opportunities: Speak with a Medallia Expert for guidance on how to expose the critical factors driving customer experience for your hospitality business.