To truly drive hotel innovation in the right direction, we should all start by understanding what travelers and our guests really want.
For example, here’s a perspective on hotel personalization from an older gentleman we can only assume travels often and stays in a lot of hotels. This businessman is part of a large core of your customers who just want a nice room with good service where everything works.
The man rants in the Courier-Tribune of Asheboro, N.C., about the common annoyances of mobile keys (he still carries a flip phone), TV remotes and voice-activated lights.
“But this is just the beginning. A whole bunch of other personal data can be used to ‘personalize’ your room,” he writes. “Which, of course, means that all that personal information now has a partner: your hotel. Which could sell that data to interested businesses for a small fee, if it wanted to.”
Here’s the kicker: Despite being in a younger demographic, I totally agree with this guy. He’s right on all accounts: keyless entry should be an option, the TV remote in a hotel room never works as good as it does at home, and hotel rooms are something like 450 square feet on average — you can walk over to the switch to turn the lights off.
But here’s where I think the author is mistaken, or at least doesn’t fully understand the concept of hotel personalization.
Personalization Means More Than Amenities
Hotels are pursuing personalization strategies because their guests are asking for it. Guests want the entire travel experience to be easy, and the best way to do that is to know what they’ve done before, what they like, and wow them with the right service and recommendations.
Take it from someone who gets a little peek behind the curtain: Asking guests to give away their personal data so someone can sell it is the last thing any trusted hotel owner, operator, brand or vendor partner cares about.
Respectfully, Mr. Harsh, hotel personalization is not about how bright you want your lights when you walk in your room. It’s about saving you from the headache of having to search 16 sites to find the right room for you at the right price. It’s about connecting you to your hotel to solve any issues or requests on the channels you prefer, from pre-stay all the way through follow-up. It’s about recommending amenities we know you would like and rewarding you appropriately for your loyalty.
Hoteliers: Listen to your guests and invest in personalization for the long term, not for the short term with shiny gadgets. Better understanding your guests helps you shape the entire hotel experience.
Because in the end, all we really want is a nice room with good service where everything works.