‘Personalisation’ is the buzz word in our industry at the moment and rightly so.

NB: This is an article from Right Revenue

Last week I had the pleasure of hosting a webinar in which Nigel Alport from For-Sight and Frank Reeves from Avvio discussed how personalisation affects your guests online journey and how we can influence and support customer needs through a personalised online experience; very targeted emails and well-timed guest correspondence.

However, as much as getting personlisation right throughout our guests online experience is important, shouldn’t we also be concentrating on personalisation at every point of their journey? After all, we are hoteliers and hospitality is what we do best.. or is it?

So let’s take it all the way back to the start and my advice is to ask yourself – who are my guests and why do they stay with me? So many hotels try to be all-things-to-all-people and end up losing sight of the guests that they should actually be serving.

For example, if you are a mainly corporate hotel, then ensure that you have what every corporate wants: great wifi, a comfy bed, a super shower and great coffee!

If you are a family hotel, do you have enough family rooms; games for the kids (and that means proper games – not always dominated by a ‘screen’); great menu options for children; flexible dining times; kids movies; maybe even milk and cookies at bedtime?

What if you have a market for solo, female travellers? Do you offer upgraded toiletries; safe room choices; a policy of not shouting out room numbers on check-in?

Do you cater to a younger, more ethical market who insists on ‘plastic-free’ or are happy not to have their room serviced during multi-night stays and be more environmentally aware?

How do you find this out? Well, you rely on data. I heard a great quote this week, ‘without data you are just another person with an opinion’ and that probably rings very true when you are trying to understand your guests. But where do you start? Well, we all have mountains of data at our fingertips – your PMS / booking engine / CMS / Google / your Revenue Management system and of course your reviews, but perhaps most importantly, you have your team! Your Reception Team has the most useful data you will ever obtain as they are frontline and deal directly with your guests every day. So what do they hear from speaking to your guests??? (yes, actually speaking to real live guests).

No matter what you use as your data source, you will, over a very short period of time begin to see patterns and you need to use those patterns to establish: who your guests are, why they stay with you and most importantly, how you can service their needs better.

But you also need your team to get the basics right. My pet hate (as anyone who has ever worked with me knows) is stating the obvious. Picture the scene… your guest arrives at your reception desk, suitcase trailing behind them, to be greeted by “are you checking in?” Seriously guys! My desired answer to that is “no, I have just beamed down from Mars and want to stand here in front of you with a bag in my hand!’. How about changing that to ‘welcome… let me take your name and I will get you settled into your room right away’ How different an experience is that? Simple changes can make a huge impression. And for goodness sake, please ALWAYS stand to greet your guests. Trust me, this one change will make a huge impact.

Or how about ensuring that your team refer to your guests by name and not room number. This simple change ‘humanises’ your guests and can make a huge uplift in guest experience.

I recently had feedback from a group of corporate guests that they recently changed their preferred hotel because after one of their team stayed and raved about the experience, they changed their entire account (13 people, staying 3 nights per week). And the reason? The second hotel made them feel more welcome after one stay than the original hotel had done in two years of being their HQ property. What does that come down to? Team of course. And what does that start with? Well, that starts at the top! The senior team has an absolute responsibility to give their team the very best insight into the company culture that they can.

Management need to lead from the front and that means absolutely insisting in GREAT customer service and that is whether you are a two-star roadside hotel or a five-star luxury property, every guest deserves great service and a memorable experience (for all the right reasons)

Remember that no guest comes back to your hotel a second time because of the experience they had on your website. Neither do they come back because you provided them a bed for the night (heck we all do that). They come back because of the experience from start to finish and the experience starts and ends with your team… It is all of our jobs to ensure and expect not good, but exceptional service from every single person on your team and that starts and ends with you…

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