Hoteliers everywhere are feeling the pressure to personalize guests’ experiences, but how are they supposed to do it? Special attention paid to service will always be important to personalization. But guests’ expectations for what they consider a custom-built hotel stay are climbing, and new technology is raising the bar.
Which method is the right one to explore?
AccorHotels is thinking about personalizing hotel bookings, which is why it acquired technology vendor Travelsify, which can use guests’ preferences to offer up hotel options based on the “mood” of the trip they’re planning. Accor also started selling flight and hotel packages on its website via a partnership with MisterFly. That latter move could be a compelling offer to its loyalty club members, who instantly earn loyalty points on the full value of the package, including airfare.
Marriott and Hilton are investing in their mobile apps to offer individualized travel content, alerts, digital check-ins and roomkeys, and service requests. Walt Disney World Resorts has become the fourth largest distributor in the world of wearable tech, thanks to its MagicBands that use RFID to enable a customized hotel and theme park experience.
Tech Teams Falling Short On Enabling Personalization, Hotel Loyalty
Somewhere between these expensive, high-tech solutions and the tried and true high-touch methods (handwritten notes, the right kind of pillow, etc.) lays the right solution for your property. That’s the best part — and, paradoxically, the key frustration — with personalization: It means something different to each individual customer and hotel.
A Tailored Booking Experience?
Of all the ways to achieve personalization, creating an individualized booking experience is the most overlooked — but that’s why it could have significant upside for hotels.
Consumers will very likely want to shop for hotel rooms the same way they automatically reorder their usual dinner order with GrubHub.
The road warrior business traveler who has been reserving the same one-bedroom suite on the high floor at your hotel should always be served that room type and those amenities at the top of the sort order. Her loyalty to the hotel should mean something. She should be offered what she wants, and a personalized room rate would help, too.
The hard part and the heavy lift for the hotel’s technology stack is identifying that person at the point where she is searching for rooms and booking. That is especially true if the potential guest has never stayed with the hotel she’s currently researching. Newer analytics systems on the market can aggregate demographic, persona type and other spending data to help hotels determine what kinds of offers, packages and upsells to give a new customer.
Making the Whole Hotel Business Personal
Just like there could be one optimal combination of room type, amenities, price and direct-marketing content for each potential guest, there could be the one approach to personalization that works best for each individual hotel. That’s the promise and the peril of this trend for the industry.
Either way, it is too overwhelming operationally and too expensive for any independent property or hotel company to accomplish alone.
Hoteliers are best at developing real estate and providing five-star service; they can’t also be innovators in technology. To start moving toward personalizing the booking path, the on-property stay and the post-stay customer relationship, hotels ought to consider partnering with technology vendors or major third-party companies like the online travel agencies or Google.
Your property likely won’t hit its personalization goals with the first initiative on the first attempt. Allow yourself to experiment with different partners and different strategies and make quick adjustments.