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Spend enough time in hotels and you’ll realise that your needs are varied and many.

Unless you’re getting five-star treatment, living away from home can be a frustrating experience at the best of times. At the worst, it can be total hell.

Any modern, reputable hotel should at least have the primary level needs well catered for.

Those addressing the basic rights of any person paying money for shelter including, security, cleanliness, food, warmth and a reasonable level of personal comfort.

It’s scary how many establishments don’t meet these basics, but hey, that’s a different story.

I’m focusing on what’s often referred to as secondary level needs, areas where hotels have real potential to differentiate and ones that can be easily enriched with extra attention from the staff, the physical design of the hotel spaces and, increasingly so nowadays, through the use of digital service touchpoints.

Over the years I’ve boiled it down to four mega needs that all hotels should strive to meet if they want to delight their guests:

  1. Recognition
  2. Personalisation
  3. Convenience
  4. Experience gathering

If you run a hotel and are serious about innovation in the digital space, this series of articles will cover each need and expand on what can be done to maximise the impact and increase guest loyalty.

I’m starting with one of the most important, and often the most overlooked by large chain hotels. Although experts in mass standardisation, they lose the battle against the smaller boutique independents that build brands around community and belonging.

I’d like to start with covering the need for recognition and how digital can consistently deliver.

Hello Mr Schubert, so nice to see you again. 

It’s always a nice message to hear. There’s something so human about this and when delivered well it can have a huge impact on how you feel about the person or company.

Unfortunately in a big busy hotel, even if you stay twice a week, the staff members work shifts and change quite frequently.

They may not have even met you and often overlook this simple but powerful message.

Welcome!

In these instances, digital can really deliver by addressing this need with automated dialogue direct to the guests mobile when they step into the lobby.

Take for instance the familiar boarding pass text before you fly from your airline.

The same technology could be used to deliver all manner of contextual messages. Seems like an easy win right? Surprising then how few hotels have made this a reality.

Another important area for delivering recognition is through appreciation of guest loyalty.

Being able to reward guests with a human touch and true contextual value, rather than the traditional level-based numbers game. 

With a truly integrated digital system, hotel staff can act on guest behaviour and purchase data, giving back in ways that are more personal.

Imagine for example, having a bottle of your favourite wine waiting in your room as a thank you for your repeated custom.

Having an understanding of your guest’s digital footprint during their stay helps you to service them better. You can bet re-booking rates go through the roof with this level of contextual recognition. 

Christian Lunden, Head of Future Business at Nordic Choice Hotels, owners of over 185 properties across Scandinavia, acknowledges that:

Recognition is at the core of a good hotel experience. It’s as important for us as hoteliers as it is for our guests. If we don’t know our guest we cannot give them the unique service they deserve, and guests will not feel special and seen.

Guests like to be treated as VIP’s, no matter if they have face-to-face contact or a digital connection with us. I see a huge potential to do this even better in the future from early dialogue via social media. Social media will play an increasingly central role in the customer service efforts of hospitality brands.

Interestingly Nordic Choice Hotels has found that simply by recognising guests on social media before, during and after their stay it created a positive engagement with guests and increased a sense of loyalty through digital conversations. 

Nordic Choice Hotels is now working with a new type of WiFi login at some of its properties, where a guest can connect through their social networks.

This means that it now has a digital capability of getting to know a guest better and can later recognise them and deliver a personal greeting when they might be visiting the hotel’s website from the comfort of their own home.

This sort of digital recognition can, according to technology provider Voyat, have a 7x ROI in monthly direct bookings.

Anton Schubert

Published 23 February, 2016 by Anton Schubert

Anton is Head of Design at Futurice and a contributor to Econsultancy.

3 more posts from this author

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Pauline Ashenden, Marketing Manager at Eptica

Some interesting ideas here Anton – many hotels do very well at recognising and personalising service for guests in the physical world, but as you say digitally it can be a very different matter. There is a need to use technology to help staff to deepen the experience – more on this in a recent Eptica blog http://www.eptica.com/blog/customer-service-lessons-hotel-sector

5 months ago

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