The Boost Hospitality Podcast is back for another season! And we are now in Season 7. And this time, we are currently on the second episode of season seven! In this episode, I have an exceptional guest who will be talking about the guest experience and how you can save time and increase your profits by having a fantastic guest experience. I asked Sapphire Stein from Wishbox to come on to this podcast episode.
Boosting Guest Experience with Sapphire Stein and Wishbox
Sapphire Stein is from Wishbox, an excellent company that helps you and your rental accommodation boost the whole guest experience ten times what it could be. This could be through loads of little cool little features that we’re going to talk about during this interview. Sapphire comes from the hospitality world, specifically in hostels. She used to be in Hostel Management and Marketing Management.
The Wishbox founders also have an extensive background in hospitality. They used to manage vacation rentals. The way they created Wishbox was through in-depth knowledge within the hospitality industry. Mostly, there was a need to communicate better with guests. The founders who know and understand a lot about the vacation rental industry just decided to go ahead and develop it.
What countries are you and Wishbox helping?
It’s worldwide. I’d say at the moment, a lot of companies in Europe, but also the US. Those are the most prominent countries.
We also have companies in Australia and South Africa. So it’s all over the world. You work with a lot of different languages.
What are the most important things that a host needs to do to set the expectation of the guests and boost their experience before they arrive?
First of all, it’s essential to start communicating with the guests well before they arrive and before they contact you to coordinate arrival details, etc. For the first part, the fundamental thing would be to communicate with the guests and send him the arrival details. It reduces uncertainties since Vacation Rentals are different from types of accommodations. The check-in might be separate. There’s a lot of question marks.
The best thing to do is reassure the guests and communicate with them before. Coordinate the arrival and most importantly, have an amiable tone. Start controlling the guest experience from that point. You’re taking control over the guest experience. I think that’s a critical point to do before the guests arrive.
How many times would you recommend the host should contact the guests from the point of booking until they arrive? How many different forms of communication would you suggest having with the guests to make sure that you are in control?
The ideal scenario would be confirming the reservation. That’s the very first step. But secondly, before the guests arrive, the books in advance. The best thing to boost guest experience at this stage would be to communicate again. “Hey, looking forward to having you.” Start having a conversation over coordinating their arrival itself. But also already preparing them for the reservation and taking part in the plan.
Guests have a lot of things to plan before they go on vacation. They book the accommodation they want according to the experience they wish to have. The host has a huge opportunity here to start communicating with the guests and offering them experiences that follow through with the accommodation he provides.
Offer the different local insights because that’s what the guests are looking for, especially the type of guests with vacation rentals. They are looking for a different experience. Begin in offering that and giving your insight as the host. Guests search online all the time, and they’re looking for the resources. Here you are the host, and you have all the information. You have all the access to organising the information and even improving the guest experience by providing information,
Also, offer additional services to boost guest experience. For example, you have regular check-in hours. Are you able to provide guests with the option to book an early check-in to booking in advance? A lot of times, guests have flights, and they arrive a lot before the check-in time. Any different services and information you can offer your guests to enhance their experience necessarily are what you should be focusing on.
That’s what we focus on. Guests are looking forward to having that interaction. For example, in Wishbox, starting from the moment of the booking after the confirmation email, we invite guests to share their arrival details and direct contact details. As a result, guests can do all the bureaucracy and get rid of the paperwork. They can focus on the fun part, which is all the things that the guests can be doing in their arrival. So that would be the most amazing guests experience your guests can have.
What are you doing at Wishbox to help with boosting the guest experience? How does Wishbox make this process a lot smoother?
It does it by automating the whole procedure. You provide and boost the most optimal guest experience, and you set it up once. Every guest gets the same perfect scenario that you set up repeatedly. You can customise it if you operate a significant amount of rentals. You can customise the text and everything parental, but you set it up once, and then your guests receive the information.
They’re able to enter all their details. They can scan their passport, and they can let you know when they want to arrive. Booking transportation from the airport is something that we allow the host to offer. They can also generate more revenue from it. If they work with different transportation providers, they can offer that to guests.
We enable online credit card payments. Guests can book us online, pay it and have a very smooth experience. We communicate with guests in their native language. So it’s automatically translated to the language of the guests. It’s also a web app. Because one of the things that we know is guests don’t like to download an exclusive app for one specific accommodation. So what we did was we developed a web app. So with one click of a button, the guests can log into this guest app, fill in the details and get all the information they need. That solves the situation.
It’s customised. You can customise it with dynamic fields and use the guests’ name and their specific arrival time. It has a very personal feeling. Mostly, you have a very positive experience because one of the things that are also very tiring is the first thing you ask for your guests. You start asking for a passport scan and documents, and it’s also not a very lovely arrival experience.
Do you have examples that your clients use as a way of upselling to a guest to boost their experience?
The first example I’ll share to boost guest experience is one of my favourite features. We have a function that’s called smart early check-in or smart late checkout. Essentially it allows the host to maximise revenue and a lot of times make the most out of the occupancy rate. I’ll explain how it goes.
You’re able to turn this feature on, and you can ask guests if they want to pay extra for early check-in or extra for a late checkout. It will only offer this if the room is available the night before. It’s automated, and it depends on your availability. So it just automatically allows you to generate more revenue. Guests can see this, and it’s customizable. You decide exactly when they see it. If you want to send them a special message, letting them know they can do it, you can also do that. It’s just making the most out of the opportunity of early check-ins and late check-outs. That’s one of the primary examples that every single host can offer. It’s just generating more revenue from something that already exists.
That’s one example. Again, it varies from host to host. It can be anything from luggage storage, different amenities like breakfast or groceries or various food opportunities, welcome kits depending on if they’re celebrating a special occasion. For example, one of the things you can do with a Wishbox online check-in wizard is you can customise questions to guests. You’re able to ask them if they’re celebrating something special and then you’re ready to offer them a different opportunity.
And also tours and activities and different experiences. A lot of hosts, they know local suppliers, and they can offer them to guests. They will be able to book them before arrival — definitely all the time. A great feature that we’re launching is the Wishbox Marketplace. It essentially allows a host to invite supplier. Let’s say there’s a supplier, you know who works in the UK, and you want to work with him. You can, with one click of a button, invite him. Then you’re able to sell their products online with virtually zero effort on your part because you’re encouraging the supplier to sign up. They sign up, and then you’re able to offer your guests their services. Again, it’s maximising the opportunities and the revenue opportunities for hosts.
At the moment, the majority would be food. It can also be different experiences, tours and activities that the guests can be doing. Again, because it’s automated, you can pre-schedule a message to your guests. You can let them know, “Hey, I found these activities interesting in the area, just in case you find them interesting.” You can set up the tone whether you want it to be extra casual and friendly or depending on your experience you wish to offer.
I’m currently with a PMS or a channel manager, do I have to switch? Do you sync in with channel managers and PMS? Do I have to leave a current setup to come to you? How does that the backend sort of work and the connectivity?
We sync into many PMS, and we are continually adding new ones and channel managers. We also sync to Airbnb and booking.com. So in case most of your reservations come from one booking source, you can sync that booking sourcing. Wishbox gets all the reservation and rental details. That’s how we’re able to to offer all these smart features because we know what your availability is like and we know what country the guest is from. We have that information, and we’re able to offer these solutions. It’s a straightforward integration with a PMS or channel manager.
Is there a way that we could reach out to the guests via automation and then collect their data that we can use for further marketing purposes as an email marketing?
Definitely. It’s the first thing we ask the guests to boost their experience. When using Wishbox, we communicate with the guests. We invite them and say, “Hey, I’m looking forward to having you. Let’s fill in these few details.” The first thing that you ask the guest is the contact information. The moment they fill it in, you have their genuine email, and you’re able to communicate with them directly. It upgrades the experience completely.
Within the online check-in wizard that I mentioned before, you’re able to ask the guests if they’re interested in opting in to your marketing list. Very quickly, you can create a marketing list and start marketing to guests. It’s just another way that guests remember you that way when you had offered this like online experience. You recognised and maybe recommending you. Next time they want to book they know who their host is. It’s putting a lot of emphasis on the host and allowing it to be even more significant part of their trip.
During the stay is a tricky topic. You’ve got to contact the guest to know what they’re thinking about. What’s your opinion on this. And again, how do you help with this at Wishbox?
I think I’m definitely for the contact. If guests do not want to disconnect, they also have the option to do it. In Wishbox, you’re also able to time a message to the time of arrival. If there are different access codes or different sensitive information, you only want to release at the very last moment. You’re able to do that automatically. That’s just connecting to the guests upon arrival. But I think it’s important to check in with the guest.
At Wishbox, we have a guidebook where they can see all the information in one place. It includes a chat so they can very easily communicate with their host, again, if the host wants to. They have all the information that you can create like frequently asked questions and different content for them. You can automate a message to check-in, but you don’t need to worry because they would have all the information in one place. It would be a click of a button. They see all the details, so there’s no need always to worry and check in with them repeatedly.
What do you recommend that people do to get a guest to leave you a review?
One of the essential things is review management and working to optimise the reviews. Of course, it depends on the experience the guests had. This is why working towards boosting the guest experience is hugely beneficial and vital. No one knows if it’s automated, so it feels personal. For example, Wishbox is a white label product. One has the idea of everything. It’s from the host email and again a very personal touch. I think it is one of the things that valued most. Even if something went wrong in the rental, then if you had everything else perfect, the service was excellent. That’s what your guests will remember.
What we do in Wishbox is we ask the guests about their stay before they check out. It gives them the sense, and it also allows the host to kind of correct things if they’re wrong. So we have a pre checkout message that you can send your guests. It can have all the checkout instructions because that’s also a bit sensitive. Sounds like, “What do I do? How do I leave? Where do I leave the key?” All the details can be in the checkout instructions that are sent out.
We ask guests how their stay was, and you’re able to invite guests to rate you. And then what it does, your guests can rate you, and they can write a review. If it’s a positive review, we encourage the guests to leave that review online, depending on how they book. But if the guests didn’t have the unique experience variance, we send the feedback directly to the host. It’s a way for the guests to vent and communicate with the host directly rather than posting it online.
Again, we ask for the rating. If it’s a positive rating, we encourage them to leave their review online. If it’s a not so good rating, which is 3.9 stars and under, we encourage them to contact the host directly. That’s a great way to optimise reviews because the guests would receive the message instantly. They will be able to manage the situation. And even when we find that a lot of times the guests already expressed their concerns, it’s just preventing negative reviews. I think that’s the optimal way to manage reviews and generally increase your rating online.
Out of all the rental owners that you work with, what is the one big mistake that you see the majority of them make when it comes to communication?
I think the number one mistake is not communicating and not providing. I’ll mention several because there are a few things that come up.
For example, one mistake is not providing additional content that is added value to guests. A lot of hosts, they find that the opportunity to offer off sales is excellent. I’m just managing to make genuine offers to guest and create content for them to optimise the upsell. It’s giving added value to guests by offering them content. Guests want to feel like they’re in on the local experience.
I think that a lot of hosts have that information. When guests ask them the information, they provide that information, but they don’t have it organised for all the guests. The best thing to do to boost guest experience would be automated and have everything on one platform. The added value that you give guests who asked, you’re just giving it to everyone. So that’s one mistake that we often encounter, and we’re able to solve.
Something else I would say is the checkout and managing reviews that way. We see a lot of hosts that don’t just seize opportunities. There are so much opportunities to upsell and to be able to offer guests more. Especially in hospitality because it’s so intense and a lot of times it’s work around the clock. We feel that hosts don’t have the time to seize a lot of additional opportunities and that’s what we’re here for necessarily.
Know more about Sapphire Stein and Wishbox
Linkedin URL: https://il.linkedin.com/in/sapphire-stein5
Facebook URL: https://www.facebook.com/appwishbox/