Guest experience is a derived term for customer experience for the hospitality industry.
So guest experience is exactly the same as customer experience, only it applies to any entity that considers their customers as guests.
To this extent, I consider a gym that has members to be an example where guest experience is a more apt term than customer experience.
Of course a hotel has guests, and we don’t call them customers, so the term guest experience is more suitable.
Guest experience means exactly what it says. It is the experience the guest has with your brand. But it is a simplification.
This is where it gets a bit airy fairy. Sometimes people have a hard time imagining the scope of what guest experience actually is when applied to a hotel (or motel, or any lodging business for that matter).
They might consider for example, that guest experience starts from when the guest checks-in, or that it doesn’t include any experience outside the perimeters of the hotel.
These are incorrect assumptions, because guest experience consists of all touch points, feelings, emotions, thoughts (both conscious and sub-conscious) that are associated with your brand at any time, way before check-in.
For example, the very first time a guest discovers your hotel brand (which is probably on an online travel agency) and it comes into their consciousness marks the start of the guest journey. And it never really ends, because you will continue to influence that guest through continued communications and interactions well after they have checked out (providing you ask for their email address!).
So once guest experience has “started” it never really ends.
So I like to think of guest experience as being the brand experience for the guest, but compartmentalised in the minds of each guest. Therefore, the total sum of guest experiences for every person on the planet then becomes your total brand image or brand equity.
So guest experience is inextricably linked to brand image. You can control your brand identity (the image you project to the world through logos and slogans) but it is much harder to control and manage your brand image, because that is formed in the minds of guests over time.
The brand equity therefore is the actual value or merit of the brand image that exists out there.
So every positive guest experience that is associated with your brand increases the brand equity. It enables you for example, to raise your prices with less resistance from guests in terms of negative reviews.
By truly understanding what guest experience is, you can radically improve it across the board at all touch points such as your website, social media, product (hotel rooms) etc.
Being pleasant and friendly is absolutely an aspect of guest experience that impacts positively. But guest experience is far more than just being friendly or providing special or exceptional service.
Great guest experience is a mindset that needs to be adopted by everyone and everything in the hotel. It is all encompassing and omnipresent.
Guest experience is everything!