How to Create a Customer Engagement Strategy that Boosts Guest Satisfaction and Loyalty

How to Create a Customer Engagement Strategy

Backed by research, here’s how to create a customer engagement strategy that can increase bookings, guest satisfaction, and loyalty.   

The hospitality and travel industry’s recovery is on many people’s minds as vaccines continue to roll out and the end of the pandemic is in sight in some parts of the world. As guests begin to return, their behaviors have changed. That means guest feedback and engagement have become more crucial for hoteliers as they head into the next normal.

Why is guest feedback important? Not only does it provide a window into guest satisfaction, but it offers a way to adapt your operations to better serve customer preferences and needs. It also allows you to gain insight into ways you can innovate to stay ahead of the competition.

But, just collecting customer feedback is not enough. As hoteliers look for new ways to increase bookings, preferably direct, engaging with customers will be key to gaining guest loyalty. Recent research from Cornell, conducted in partnership with Medallia, shows that while engagement and interaction between hoteliers and guests are taking new forms, it is still as important as ever and a key driver for the insights that will lead to innovation that puts brands a step above the competition.

Here’s what the research shows as you embark on how to create a customer engagement strategy that works for you.

How customer engagement boosts business

Engagement and interaction between hoteliers and guests are taking new forms but are still as important as ever, the research shows. Customer engagement is a key driver of guest satisfaction and loyalty — and can lead to a lift in direct bookings as a result.

According to the research, a customer’s willingness to share feedback, along with hotel management’s response, affected these four elements:

  1. Future guest satisfaction: When hotel management acknowledged service shortcomings and offered personalized and detailed apologies, guest satisfaction improved on future stays.
  2. Tendency to share reviews online: A quick thank you from the hotel after receiving feedback increased the likelihood that the guest would share a review online after their next stay. On the flip slip, researchers found that overly detailed thank you messages could deter guests from sharing future reviews.
  3. Loyalty: Feedback provided by guests, whether it was positive or negative, signaled a willingness to engage with the hotel brand. It increased the chance of the guest becoming loyal by almost 50%. The likelihood of becoming loyal increased even more when management responded to guest feedback.
  4. Booking channel: When customers engaged with the brand via a guest satisfaction survey, they were less likely to book via a third party and instead book direct. As a result, hotels that engaged with guests reduced OTA commissions by 5% — savings that were further increased when managers responded to guest feedback.

3 tips for engaging with customers

Engaging with customers can help to grow advocates for your brand when current customers are more willing to share their experiences via reviews for prospective customers to see. Here are three ways you can set yourself up for success.

  1. Solicit feedback: Let your customers know that you want their opinions. Request feedback via guest surveys and encourage your customers to share their experiences online.
  2. Show you’re listening: Customers will know your brand is open to listening to them when they see you respond to reviews. Make sure you offer personalized and relevant responses to demonstrate you are actually reading the feedback.
  3. Act on feedback: Listening is great, but it doesn’t mean much if you aren’t acting on what you learn. Your guests are telling you what they need for a stellar customer experience. Listen, learn, then act to stay ahead of competition and gain loyalty.


The research found that consumers new to providing reviews online are disproportionately negative. If you rely on customers to be self-motivated to post reviews, you could be left with a biased view of satisfaction that tends to be less positive. You need to facilitate and make it easy for your customers to share their feedback if you hope to get a clear picture of guest satisfaction.

Want to learn more about how to create a customer engagement strategy? Speak with a Medallia Expert for guidance on how to drive engagement across your customer experience programs.