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How to Impress Guests in a Changing Hospitality Industry Leaders in this field must read the room, while inviting feedback to deliver the best customer experience.

By Sumit Aneja Edited by Bill Schulz

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

People have always seen the hospitality industry as a safe business bet as everyone needs food, lodging and entertainment when they travel. Indeed a new survey of over 2,000 Americans, conducted by Apple Vacations, found that staying in a hotel (36%) is one of biggest reasons why people travel, period.

The pandemic, of course, turned all expectations upside down. Offering a fantastic customer experience is critical to restoring trust and propelling a full recovery.

Related: There Are Plenty of Opportunities for Entrepreneurs in Tourism's Future

Two major shifts

Concerns about the spread of the virus led to distancing and sanitation regulations that made traditional hygiene protocols insufficient. Facilities needed to discourage the use of cash and other "touchable" tools like menus. Companies have grown more reliant on technology while developing ways for people to browse or play online.

Necip Camcigil, founder of One Life Kitchen in the Dubai Design District, notes that trends related to online/tabletop QR code ordering and spacing have persisted even as facilities open for dine-in options. Patrons feel more comfortable eating outside, as being in the open air reduces the risk of coronavirus transmission. People also prefer takeout to dine-in, with just 65 percent of visitors claiming to feel comfortable eating inside a restaurant in early August 2021.

Customers are demanding more transparency about facilities' cleanliness procedures. It's common for businesses to use disposable items (e.g., cutlery), place disinfectant at entrances/exits while requiring staff to wear masks and gloves.

Related: Entrepreneurial Leadership, Good Eats: How Independent Restaurant Operators Are Showing Their Strength

Responding effectively

Even after the pandemic is under greater control, people will likely remain more comfortable with eating outside. Refurbishing, or introducing, outdoor eating areas can allow you to ease anxieties while potentially expanding the long-term number of patrons you can serve at a time. Regardless of how you set up the space physically, invest in cleanliness to help customers feel safe.

In the technology space, continue to offer clients lots of options for completing transactions. People have become accustomed to the conveniences of such alternatives and will want them to continue. Online options must be part of this process, not only because there are now more tech-based touch points on the visitor journey, but also because you need a convenient way to guide iterative adjustments.

One of the best strategies is to conduct omnichannel NPS and CSAT surveys using a customer experience tool. These will allow you to identify specific pain points, and with good analysis, you'll be able to see how your company's changes influence customer reactions. Track your metrics on a live dashboard so you can see patron sentiments in real-time. This can go a long way toward preventing small issues from ballooning because you can resolve issues more quickly.

Two-way communication is number one

Investing in cleanliness while embracing new uses of technology that support online interactions is essential. No matter what options you adopt within these parameters, invite constant feedback with NPS, CSAT or similar surveys using omnichannel survey software. Armed with real-time metrics, you can engage with customers exactly as they need you to and build real consumer confidence.

Related: 7 Ways to Snag Tourist Dollars and Keep Locals Happy at the Same Time

Sumit Aneja

Chief Executive Officer of Voxco

Sumit Aneja is the CEO of Voxco, an omnichannel software survey platform and a global market leader in the multi-modal survey software sector.

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