In our guest satisfaction surveying model, the first question we ask guests is how their stay met with their expectations. There are 3 response choices; exceeded, met, or did not meet.
So let's flip things around for a second: what's reasonable for you, the hotelier, to expect in terms of responses to this question?
The knee-jerk response to that question is that you'd like to exceed the expectations of every guest. On a theoretical level I suppose that's true, but practically speaking I'll make the case below as to why you really don't want that result. To begin, let's lump your guests into 2 categories; those who have stayed in your hotel before and those who have not.
For those guests who have previously stayed with you, expectations are pretty well set. It's a tall order to significantly exceed expectations for this group. Anytime you can exceed the expectations of a return guest you really have things clicking.
For your first time guests, the expectation equation gets pretty complicated. How are those guests' expectations set? There are many factors at play, including how they came to choose your hotel, recommendations/opinions of friends/relatives, marketing materials and messages, guidebooks, online reviews, etc. In addition, there is a value component-- that is, expectation fluctuates with the price paid for a hotel room.
So, let's say you are able to exceed the expectations of every first time guest. Is this a good thing? I would argue that it is not. Why? If you're exceeding everyones' expectations, then it's clear that those expectations are unrealistically too low. You would then be faced with the tough task of determining why and trying to change all of the variables in the equation mentioned above. In addition, the implications of too-low guest expectations also extends to missed opportunity- that is, travelers who choose another hotel because they are looking for something "more" during the decision making process.
Getting back to the expectation question in your guest survey, what results should you be looking for? Clearly, the first objective is to have the percentage of guests who answer "not met" as low as possible. This is a key metric to monitor over time. Among the remaining guests, the split of "exceeded" and "met" is dependent on the percentage of your business that is made up of repeat guests. Again, the more repeat guests you have, the more difficult it becomes to exceed expectations.
The blog of Database Sciences and its GuestInsight & ListenKeenly services.