The Profitable Art of Guest Recovery for Travel and Tourism Brands

Carla Vianna
Carla Vianna
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The Profitable Art of Guest Recovery for Travel and Tourism Brands

Despite your best efforts, negative customer experiences will happen.

Here is where the concept of guest recovery comes into play. A negative review doesn’t have to tank your reputation. 

Guest recovery is the process of bringing that customer back. Your recovery strategy can be the difference between a one-time visitor and a lifelong advocate. 

What is guest recovery?

Guest recovery is a strategic approach aimed at resolving negative guest experiences and regaining their trust. It isn’t just about solving problems; it’s the delicate process of acknowledging concerns, mending relationships, and rekindling your customer’s trust. 

Consider a family visiting a theme park who encounters long lines and malfunctioning rides. The theme park’s guest recovery process might involve a prompt investigation and follow-up communication with the family.

Once the park personally addressed their concerns, they can also provide an add-on or a discount as a sign of good will.

Internally, the attraction will further investigate what caused customer dissatisfaction in the first place, and use that insight to improve the park’s operations.

By proactively addressing the family’s concerns and offering a solution, the theme park can start to rebuild their losttrust.  

Understanding the real impact of negative tour experiences

Negative tour experiences can have a substantial impact on your business. Consider these statistics:

  • One in three customers will walk away from a brand they love after just one bad experience. (In one study, 50% reported already doing so.)
  • More than half of Americans have canceled planned purchases or transactions because of bad service.
  • 73% of all people point to customer experience as an important factor in their purchasing decisions.
  • One in three customers is willing to pay more for a higher level of service — which explains why companies with great experiences have a 16% price premium on products and services.
  • When it comes to a great customer experience, customers expect speed, convenience, helpful employees, and friendly service.
  • Yes, customers are more than willing to share their negative experiences: 30% say they would share it on social media or post a negative review online. But they’re even more willing to share positive ones. Nearly half (49%) of them say they would share about a positive customer experience.
  • It takes about 12 positive experiences to make up for one unresolved negative experience.
  • When a brand is transparent, nearly nine in 10 people are more likely to give them a second chance after a bad experience. And 85% are more likely to stick with them during crises.
  • Businesses can lose up to $75 billion annually due to poor customer service.

Most common reasons for guest dissatisfaction

Understanding your guests’ main paint points can help you address them before they arise. These are the most common issues that lead to guest dissatisfaction:

  1. Unfriendly staff: Interactions with staff play a pivotal role in shaping guests’ experiences. Rude, disinterested, or unhelpful staff can leave a lasting negative impression.
  2. Long wait times: Excessive waiting periods — whether for check-in, a ride, or food and beverage services — can leave guests feeling frustrated.
  3. Poor cleanliness: Dirty or messy facilities, restrooms, and public spaces can create an unappealing atmosphere and cast doubt on the quality of your attraction.
  4. Miscommunication: Unclear instructions, misleading advertisements, or poor communication about event details can all contribute to guest frustration.
  5. Unmet expectations: If the actual experience falls short of what was promised or anticipated, guests likely won’t return (or recommend it to anyone else).
  6. Inadequate facilities: Poorly maintained amenities and equipment can also cast a shadow on your overall guest experience.
  7. Safety concerns: For guests to enjoy their visit, they need to feel like their safety is absolutely guaranteed.
  8. Lack of personalization: A generic experience will never match up to one that caters to a guest’s individual preferences.
  9. Overcrowding: Overcrowded venues and cramped spaces can make guests feel physically uncomfortable and impede them from experiencing everything your attraction has to offer.
  10. Inefficient processes: A lengthy check-in procedure, for instance, can instantly dampen a guest’s first impression of your venue. This is where Xola’s digital waivers come in handy.
  11. Technical glitches: Malfunctioning equipment or rides can diminish a guest’s confidence in your brand and make them feel unsafe.
  12. Noise disturbances: Excessive noise levels, in a museum, for example, can disrupt the overall visit.
  13. Nontransparent pricing: Nobody enjoys seeing unexpected hidden fees on their bill.
  14. Limited accessibility: Inadequate facilities for guests with mobility challenges or disabilities can exclude potential visitors.
  15. Unsatisfactory amenities: Consider upgrading low-quality amenities like uncomfortable seating or malfunctioning water fountains.
  16. Unaddressed complaints: Ignoring guest complaints makes guest recovery nearly impossible.
  17. Inaccurate information: Make sure you provide guests with accurate schedules, operating hours, ticket pricing, and policies.
  18. Inflexible policies: Unreasonable policies regarding refunds, rescheduling, or cancellations can leave guests feeling trapped and dissatisfied.
  19. Unpleasant surprises: Unexpected closures or disruptions that were not communicated in advance are sure ways to keep guests away.
  20. Average food and beverages: Poor-quality or unappetizing food and drink offerings can significantly impact a guest’s visit.

7 steps for guest recovery

Guest recovery is a meticulous process that involves addressing the issues, communicating with guests, and taking meaningful actions to rectify the situation. 

Let’s take a look at what the guest recovery procedure might look like for a zipline tour operator. an attraction.  

Step 1: Swiftly acknowledge the issue

Imagine a guest, Sarah, expresses her dissatisfaction about the long wait times she experienced at the different stops of a zipline course.

Upon receiving feedback or noticing signs of dissatisfaction, the park should promptly acknowledge the issue. This can be as simple as a sincere apology: “We apologize for the inconvenience you faced due to the delay.”

If Sarah publishes a poor review online, the park should try to respond within 24 to 48 hours. The operator should be professional and courteous and ask to follow up with her offline. Once the conversation is moved off the review platform, a viable solution can be offered. 

Step 2: Be empathetic

Operators should show genuine empathy and actively listen to a guest’s concerns. The first step in changing the conversation is to validate their feelings. For example, the conversation with Sarah might start like this, “We understand how frustrating it can be to wait longer than expected.”

Step 3: Investigate the problem

Then, it’s time to dig deeper to understand the root cause of the problem. Was it a breakdown in communication, a technical glitch, or an operational oversight? Not only will the operator need to speak with the upset guest, but also with the staff present that day.

In Sarah’s case, the operator would identify whether the long wait times were due to technical issues with the course, overcrowding, or staff shortages.

Step 4: Offer an immediate, tailored solution

The solutions provded should be tailored to the upset guests’ situations. This might look like offering Sarah discount for her next visit. The operator might say something along the lines of, “To make up for the long wait, we’d like to offer you a 50% discount for your next visit.”

Step 5: Show the guest that you’re committed to improving your experience

Always let the guest know that you’re taking steps in the right direction and ensuring that similar issues don’t occur in the future.

For example, following Sarah’s complaint, the operator revised the zipline’s course maximum capacity and provided additional training to its staff, ensuring that guests can efficiently flow through the course. The operator should share this with her. This not only demonstrates transparency but also reassures guests that their feedback is valued.

Step 6: Express gratitude

Always thank a guest for bringing an issue to your attention. At the end of the day, they’re helping you improve your experience as a whole.

Without Sarah’s complaint, the zipline operator may have never known that it was driving customers away with its long wait times. Expressing gratitude for their patience and understanding might look like this: “We appreciate your patience and thank you for allowing us to turn things around.”

Step 7: Follow up with an NPS survey

Once the guest recovery process is done, it’s time to follow up with the guest to see if it worked.

A Net Promoter Score (NPS) survey is a great tool to measure customer loyalty once an issue has been resolved. It can be sent as a single-question survey that asks, “On a scale of 1 to 10, how likely are you to recommend our attraction to a friend or colleague?”

If Sarah answers within the 9 to 10 range, she was very satisfied with the conflict resolution. Anything lower means that the tour operator hasn’t fully recovered her trust.

***

Guest recovery always starts with acknowledging and understanding the impact of negative experiences. By addressing common causes of dissatisfaction and embracing a step-by-step recovery process, your business can convert mishaps into triumphs and turn once-upset visitors into loyal brand ambassadors.

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Writer Carla Vianna

Carla Vianna

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