Hoteliers of all sizes and irrespective of their location, past history, sophistication and exuberance all have all had to rethink: guest experience and customer needs in the last two years more than ever in the history of hotels. Beyond doubt hospitality sector has been the last to recover post-covid.
The focus for many hotels has been mainly about the precautions they are taking (vaccinating staff, personal protective equipment for staff), measures to ensure safety of guests (social distancing, reduced capacity, natural air and lighting). In a nutshell, complying with standards and regulations has been a key focus area as this is somewhat unsaid minimum behavior expected by the hoteliers given the pandemic.
However, while there is need and mandate to focus on surface level interventions such as above. There is equally pressing need, in fact an even more urgent need to innovate.
Innovation is again misunderstood and used poorly, often because it is perceived incorrectly. Innovation can be inferred as where an established way of doing something is replaced with something new, often this new way is considered to be more valuable than earlier means of doing the same leading to widespread adoption. Subsequently, the change permeates the system or context making the old ways obsolete.
Consider the example of greeting guests in a hotel lobby or at entrance: given covid restrictions one could approach it in a contact-free way- even if it meant a bit of re-design of guest spaces in the interest of safety of guests and yet businesses can keep the human communication alive through voice/video screens or one can go beyond the regular by applying data-driven ways to make guest experience easier/quicker and less mundane – consider that even after knowing guests have booked in advance of arrival – hotels are insisting on filling up forms for check-in isn’t that ridiculous? It gets even worse when hotels insist more forms for repeat guests and absolutely appears unempathetic when guests are made to wait in line for these reasons. This is where innovation can come to rescue. Make the line disappear.
Innovation doesn’t have to have a fancy perspective always, if one can move away from assumption driven decisions to data driven decisions embracing such opportunities could kick start innovation. Hotel staff jobs could be made easier by providing employees more visibility and enabling them to respond with agility when working with suppliers, vendors and partners. An example could be business redefining communication channels with suppliers (from archaic website portals/emails to real-time platforms-communication). In addition, understanding customer journey through an amalgam of tools like JBTD, Empathy Mapping, Customer Journey Mapping and Automated Persona Generation; all these unlock value by improving understanding of customers, learning their intrinsic drivers, needs and making sense of their actions.
Hoteliers could innovate guest experience by embracing personalization of guest experience, if guest choose the parts or components themselves that constitute unique guest experiences; guests could be in full control of what experiences they want and let the hotelier focus on delivering the desired experiences instead of hotelier reinventing or guessing suitable experiences for guests typically derived from assumptions and personas.
Consider an example of a ten-day vacation-holiday, if the guest is able to build his/her itinerary day by day with events/activities/experiences, step by step building each day of his/her vacation the guest builds his/her own unique vacation experience. By allowing the guest to interact with an Experience Configurator, a tool, which uses visuals and web checkout experience to configure a typical day from several of available options. The guest now has a much better understanding of what to expect and is committed to the entire holiday plan. Further, such tool records data from guests/possible guests and provide the hotelier information about most sought after experience/activities which could be used to further personalize discounts, surprises, gamification and assist in targeting appropriate packages for guests.
Studies show evidence that satisfaction perceived by hotel guests are often high when clients have flexibility to configure his/her unique experience. Ultimately, these practices enable hyper-personalization leading to building loyal clients for the brand.
At Limendo, we are committed to innovation for business, our Artificial Intelligence enabled robots and automation tools augment hotels and hotel staff to make most out of their interactions with guests by providing hyper-personalized insights. We build applications that allows guests to design their unique experiences and take control of their experiences. We use data and data science to unlock opportunities for businesses to innovate.