“Hotel 2020: The Personalization Paradox” is a report published by IBM Global Business Services. The report says that with the increasing competition among the hospitality industry players, personalization of a hotel’s guest experience will be the one and only feature which will help the industry survive.
In other words, personalization will no longer be an option but will become a mandate for hotels to survive the cut-throat competition. If we look at the last two sentences, they lay bare the ugly truth that if hotels continue to offer run of the mill facilities then they are likely to be out of business in the near future.
But, one wonders why are hotels not personalizing their offerings to their customers. The one and only response to this question is- the cost involved in personalizing services.
Recently, Four Seasons Hotel spent a whopping 18 million dollars to revise their site. They will now deliver personalized dynamic web pages to their potential customers. This was done with a view to provide their customers with a personalized experience.
Of course, very few hotels have the kind of budget and guest profile that Four Seasons boasts of. However, this does not mean that hotels have to neglect making small changes in their service offerings to their existing customers so that they can deliver a “delightful” experience to them and earn their loyalty. This article will show five ways in which hotels can personalize their guest experiences and consequently ensure repeat bookings.
The 5 ways to personalize guest experience
It is well known that factors like hospitality and a personalized guest experience are the prime reasons why guests return. Danny Meyer has said on record that “recognition” is the primary reason why guests wish to return to the same hotel/resort.
Below, are given five ways in which hoteliers can recognize their guest requirements and then personalize their guest’s customer experience consequently compelling them to return.
#1 Get to know your guests before they arrive
Restaurant technology has improved so much that now there are applications that can help you collect important data about your existing and new customers. You can now get to know who the top 100 customers are that come to your hotel. You can also get to know their personal favorites in terms of food, facilities, activity preferences, etc.
Details about their birthdays, anniversaries, job title, current employer, etc are all easily available. After this, you can have a statement, which is as long as a single tweet like “Michael Jackson is a well-known dancer and he has paid 100 visits to your resort in the last 3 months.”
#2 Welcome regulars in a special way
The best resorts, restaurants, and hotels have the technology that will enable them to recognize regulars. Hotels can perform activities that will make their regular customers feel special throughout their whole visit.
Some restaurants look up their regular guests in a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system when they arrive and give them special treatment on their arrival. These are facilities like special rooms reserved for them, a welcome drink on arrival, a special menu prepared for them on their arrival to the resort, and other services which make them feel special.
#3 Give personal services to the regular guest
Restaurant owners need to first check the context of a guest’s visit to their resort. If a guest is on a business visit, then asking about whether they are aware of the Wi-Fi facility in their room or providing them extra comfort to conduct his/her business meetings to make it a success, are just some of the small things that restaurant owners can do to make the visit special for their guest.
In this scenario, the service required is less of a personal nature. However, if a guest is on a family vacation, then giving special attention to his/her family member and providing them special benefits can go a long way. This can be anything like enquiring whether the hot water system in their room is working, whether they have any special preferences for breakfast/dinner or whether they require any assistance around the place.
#4 Managers are the face of the restaurant
Spending time with regular customers is the most important activity of any manager. At such times, a manager need not run errands for his guest, do any office work, or anything else, but just listen carefully to what a guest asks for. If there is a second visit, the manager must ensure to remember the same requirements so that guests feel at home.
Hotels today have set up systems for their managers to monitor their guest’s behavior so that they can make the guests stay at the restaurant better by providing them with what they require during their stay at the hotel. Management time is best spent first listening and then understanding to build relationships with guests.
#5 End with a fond farewell and a warm invitation to return
Mentally, every manager should be collecting information about the customer/guest so that he can make his next visit better. A manager needs to know whether the guest has any special plans for the night/weekend. What did the guest order for meals? If the guest tells you something that is worth remembering for a next visit then it is best plugged back to the CRM. Such initiatives compel guests to pay return visits to the resort.
So, what are hotel owners waiting for?
The task of knowing their customer and providing them with a personalized experience does seem daunting on the face, but it does not require that much work. A manager can always plug into a marketing automation and a guest engagement platform to the existing Point of Sale (POS).
Other information on the guests can also be collected from their social profiles. Thus, thanks to the CRM system, hotel owners can now marry the multiple sources to deliver valuable guest information to them. Previously, this was an activity that took a lot of time and money to unearth.
Thanks to data analytics and marketing automation solutions, it has now become increasingly easy to send personalized marketing messages to the customer/guest. Thus, periodic information on new offers, special initiatives on special occasions, etc can easily be tailored to be sent to specialized customers so that they can include them into their holiday plans.
Personalizing the guest experience in hotels has become much easier thanks to technology and its applications. It will not be long before we can now have services tailored to customer requirements.