Personalisation is nothing new. But while our counterparts, most notably in the field of retail, have actively and effectively embraced the concept for years, hotels have traditionally been remarkably slow adopters in this area – which may seem bizarre given the very nature of the hotel industry and given the vast quantity of data hotels have the potential to collate and use.
However, the personalised stay is now an expectation, not a luxury. The one size fits all is no longer acceptable. And with the myriad of opportunities to collate this data and utilise it, as we move into a new year, this is something hotels need to get on board with if they are to meet and exceed the expectations of the increasingly sophisticated traveller. Guests will not only expect hotels to anticipate their requirements through intelligent use of guest history, but they will also expect the opportunity to personalise aspects of their stay. The growth of the peer to peer accommodation is also fueling this, as demand shifts from merely a bed for the night, to a unique experience, tailored to the guests needs.
Data is the foundation to delivering a personalised service
Data is key to develop a deep understanding of guests and deliver a truly personal service. There is a plethora of touch points along the customer journey where customers share information about themselves all which should provide the foundation for a targeted communications plan. The challenge as we move into 2017 is to manage these data points which are often stored in different systems. Hospitality software companies are working towards ongoing aggregation of data points from multiple systems – this will enable access to all intelligent guest data in one place which will in turn, ease the challenge of building, accessing and utilising, a comprehensive customer profile.
Talking to your customer
The deluge of marketing messages that we receive on a daily basis mean that those lacking relevancy are at best ignored, at worst, can prove to be damaging to a hotels reputation with 74% of consumers recently reported to be frustrated when content is of little use to them. In this era where customers value tailored experiences, personalised messaging is a must-have marketing strategy. Pre-stay, searching online ad content algorithms show customised offers based on searches and facilitates the ability to target previous guests with advertising based on stay history and recent searches.
When booking, guests should be able to provide more information with regards to their visit – from choosing tailored guest amenities, to highlighting their preferences for their stay – and also their preferred channel of communication – mobile, voice or email.
Post stay, the focus must be on aggregation of your data sources to form a complete picture of your guest to ensure that follow up communications and relevant. If I have stayed at your hotel as a single traveller on business, communications about your family rooms can be viewed as irrelevant and frustrating.
The impact of mobile
In 2017, hoteliers will leverage the power of mobile to take the on-property experience to the next level. Personalisation in hospitality and mobile technology are inextricably linked. With over 90% of travellers checking their smartphones up to 133 times a day, the opportunity to both communicate with guests and integrate mobile technology into shaping the guest experience cannot be overlooked.
Once brand that is leading the way in this area is Virgin Hotels. Their app ‘Lucy’ is branded the app that “Makes Things Happen,” Lucy enables guests to control the temperature of their room, order room service, book spa appointments, and even text with hotel staff and other guests. Guests at Starwood hotels can use Smartphone technology to programme lighting, manage their playlist and set the time to make morning coffee. While this seems ‘cutting edge’, it won’t be long before this loses its wow factor and becomes the norm for todays’ traveller. Hotels should seriously consider how falling behind during this mobile transformation will impede their growth.
Within all this, we should not forget just as the strides in technology facilitate the delivery of a personalised service and help hotels to have a deeper understanding of their guest, it can also free up time for those guests who prefer the human interaction. That is the very essence of personalisation. While technology is enabling the streamlining of many aspects of the hotel operation, personalisation will enable you to identify those guests for whom the human touch is most important – and adapt your service level accordingly.
To hear more about how mobile technology can help you drive a truly personalised experience for your guests, join us for ‘Seize Opportunity in Disruption’, a lively and educational one day conference for general managers, revenue managers and sales professionals on Tuesday 21st February, 2017 at the Park Plaza Riverbank, London, SE1 7TJ.
Join industry leaders from Google, Expedia, Booking.com, Duetto, IDeaS, Voyat, Infor EzRMS and Starwood Hotels and Resorts among others to find out how you can turn disruption to your advantage. Click here http://bit.ly/2iW8whU to find out more or contact Michelle Casey on email@example.com or on 07718650349 for more information.