As a hotelier, there is simple, albeit crucial, understanding that should guide your on-going business approach: If you aren’t looking to the future, you’re probably already behind.
NB: This is an article by Magnus Friberg, CEO of Zaplox AB
So how do you keep your finger on the pulse of everything to come in the hospitality realm? Look no further than your guests. It is their needs, preferences, and expectations that will continuously advance and shape the technological and service-based demands of the hotels they stay in.
As the travel and hospitality industry adapts to today’s guest, one thing has become indisputably clear — convenience and availability are the driving factors in guest satisfaction. So, ask yourself, as a hotelier, what processes and technologies do you have in place that enable you to not only understand your guests better than ever before, but can readily empower your guests to experience the exact level of service they want?
Mobile Guest Experience
The future of the convenience-driven hospitality model rests in the palm of our hands. As smartphone technology continues to disrupt the industry, mobile options have already become the expectation. From reservations, pre-arrival messages, mobile check-in, and access to a hotel room with a mobile key, to offers, upgrades and mobile check-out, guests have readily embraced the mobile experience. And let’s face it, with 76% of travelers naming their mobile device as their number one travel accessory according to Eye for Travel, the mobile service model simply can’t be ignored.
Today’s guest wants to be in control and empowered to navigate their pre-stay and on-property needs right from their phone, at any time. The adoption of mobile self-service technology also allows hotels to gather valuable insight into guest preferences, logging all guest behavior for future stays. For example, as guests place room service orders and chat with a mobile concierge, hotels can then store those preferences to increase the level of service provided during future stays. It’s almost as if you’re reading their mind, but really, you’re just reading the data.
Ensuring long-term guest loyalty requires more than simply meeting the expectation of amazing service. Rather, it requires amazing, personalized service. As hotels optimize the data they collect on their guests at every touch point, insights and guest profiles emerge that can support profitable upsell and cross-sell strategies, both pre and post stay. These profiles should include shopping motivators, on-property behaviors, social media activity, interests on a hotel’s brand website and online distribution channels. In fact, a 2016 study by Zebra Technologies Hospitality revealed that 75% of guests are willing to share personal information, such as gender, age and email address, in exchange for tailored promotions, coupons, priority service or loyalty points.
From room upgrades, food and beverage amenities to catalogs for guests to shop from after their stay for sheets, toiletries etc., hotels can strategically tailor their upsell suggestions and promotions based on each guest’s unique needs. For example, sending a timely and relevant mobile offer such as “15% off at the spa today!” will likely result in a positive response if the guest has previously inquired about the spa, engaged with related online content or booked an appointment during a previous stay.
Hi-touch or Low-touch Engagement
Your guests want to experience your property in their own way. In some cases, a guest may expect high touch interaction and attention from service staff during their stay. Alternatively, some guests may prefer minimal interaction that only takes place for transactional purposes, depending on the nature of their stay.
The perfect low touch model, as demonstrated by e-commerce platforms like Amazon, allows you to walk into a shop, buy what you want, through an automated checkout and leave. In the hospitality sphere, this can experience be replicated by the ability (as enabled by mobile self-service) to bypass the front desk with mobile check-in and mobile keys. In fact, it’s noted that 70% of guests prefer to use their smartphone to speed up check in and services, and 67% of travelers are “more likely” to choose a hotel that allows guests to check in and open doors with a smartphone than a hotel that doesn’t.
If adhering to the high touch model for a guest, however, the hotel could greet someone by name upon arrival, making use of stored guest data and preferences from their previous stay to personalize and cater to their guest experience from the moment they arrive.
With the help of progressive hotel technology and mobile capabilities, guests are empowered to choose their level of service, better customizing their preferred experience and helping to solidify long-term loyalty. Whether this entails an emphasis on mobile self-service, or a personalized approach to upsell offerings, enhancing the guest’s experience at every opportunity is the future of hospitality.
About the Author
Mr. Magnus Friberg has served as Chief Executive Officer of Zaplox AB since 2013 and he is also Director of the Company. He previously served at Securitas, responsible for Business Development & Marketing in Europe. He previously also established the company S Reg with SmartSafety concept.