Bespoke or Be Dead: Guest Personalization is the New Norm in the Hospitality Industry
There’s a fast food restaurant down the street from where I live. They serve great burgers – good flavor, good spice and great sides. But so does the one on the next street. But the lady at the second restaurant is much more polite and does not shame me or my kids for wanting extra sauce sometimes. Undoubtedly, the latter gets my business. It’s because they know what I want. They make me feel special.
The same goes for hotels – If you want your guests to book with you instead of your competitors or win the Hotels Vs Airbnb battle, you have to personalize your guest experience. The point is – the product in most cases is the same but what makes customers opt for one over the other is the associated experience.
In the digital world, being a monolithic hotel delivering uniform, ‘one-size-fits-all’ services across the board is a recipe for failure. Technology-savvy guests are becoming more demanding, each expecting their individual experiences to reflect their own personalities and desires.
Why Does Personalization Matter
First seen on a large scale in the world of online business, the concept of personalization is sweeping across the landscape of consumer-facing brands. Brands that have implemented personalization technologies are already seeing revenue growth ranging from 6% to 10%. These figures are double to three times that of slower technology adopters, and also imply that the latter are losing ground in terms of market share and profitability.
The customer service aspect of hospitality will never be replaced by machines, but it is also true that the role of customer service has changed with the arrival of the digital age. Hotel WiFi and smartphones have reduced the need for interaction with the staff. Personalization through location based technologies is a great way to re-create a personal connection with your guests.
How Can Location Based Technologies Personalize Guest Experiences
You can’t please whom you don’t know. Which makes ‘getting to know your customer’ the first important step. A WiFi analytics solution enables that by gathering a surprising amount of information regarding each guest. This data includes identifying who your guests are, how and where they spend their time on the property, which areas they are most attracted to, what they are interested in – in short, a digital snapshot of every visitor’s preferences and habits.
This proprietary database, reflecting the on-site behavior of a guest, can then be combined with numerous other sources of information (POS, CRM, loyalty programs, web analytics, third-party sources, etc.). When the result is put through a powerful analytical engine, a comprehensive picture is automatically created of every single guest, enabling hotel employees to provide each with the best stay possible. In other words, a location based technology platform can transform the entire guest experience.
Upselling with Personalized Marketing
At each step of the customer journey, data collected by the location based platform is processed to yield recommendations befitting the guest’s location persona. Secondary revenue streams can be enhanced in this way by offering customers suggestions just when they are most likely to act on them. In a world saturated with in-your-face marketing, a word whispered into the customer’s ear at just the right moment can do wonders.
As an example, suppose a guest arrives at 3 PM after suffering a long delayed flight. Acting off of this knowledge, a location based platform can heighten both this customer’s experience and spending by sending a discount on an in-room massage as a text message. As the sun sets, the guest recognized as a frequent bar visitor will receive a reminder when happy hour starts, while, if he has previously visited the restaurant, he can be enticed to return once more through a personalized promotion on the kinds of dishes he is known to enjoy.
When the system detects activity in his room the next morning, he can be sent a complimentary gym voucher for the day, as well as a list of suggested local activities based on his web history.
Implemented properly, actions such as these can offer a level of personalized service, to every single guest, which would simply be impossible without the technology now available.
The pace of life, whether travelling for business or pleasure, can be expected to increase even further in the near future. Personalized notifications will help each visitor get the most out of his time at a hotel, while each action he takes provides further information for future use. Continuous improvement is built into the location based technology solution, including automatic evolution of a customer’s location persona and the related promotional structure.
Increased Connectivity for Greater Enjoyment
An opportunity within personalization lies in being able to provide your guests with greater control over their experiences while staying at your hotel. For example, the moment your guest WiFi solution detects a loyalty member at the hotel lobby, an SMS can be triggered about how he can upgrade his room for a very small price difference. Or an international traveller with kids can be sent an email with a list of on-property activities.
Even in-room experiences can be elevated by providing customization options to guests. They can control their room’s lighting, temperature, music, shades and other fixtures easily and fully through a touch enabled mobile device. One of our hospitality clients even allows its guests to cast their choice of content from their smartphones directly to the in-room TVs. Such level of personalization will go a long way in improving loyalty and establishing a great customer-brand relationship.
Stepping into the Brave New World
It would be a mistake to think of location based technologies as simply a better way of doing things. These technologies literally allow the previously impossible to be done, and can be expected to increase both immediate revenue and long-term market share. The techniques involved are already widely used; the hospitality sector seems to be lagging behind the technology curve.
Virtually every person on earth has already donated a large amount of information about himself to any customer-serving organization that cares to ask, in the form of the digital personas all online activity creates. The key to successfully implementing personalization in a hotel environment is to intelligently combine this and other data so as to provide the most rewarding guest journey and the most relevant marketing messages possible.
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