The travel and hospitality industry is ever evolving with technology reshaping consumers’ experiences every day. With the advent of smartphones, customers now have access to the world with just a touch, this has changed the way they perceive the world and travel. Customer’s expectations have increased. Along with travelling, customers also share a digital experience and expect more personalised services. Travel companies must envision the customer experience they want to deliver.
Recent research outlines 92 per cent of hoteliers believe that by 2020 guests will expect their stay to be personalised around a set of choices they make before they arrive.
More than 50% of the guest said, “I don’t mind when hotels use my personal information to offer me relevant deals, discounts and loyalty points.” – In a study by Skift, The Future of Hotel Loyalty 2016.
Personalization is a huge challenge for the hotel industry and not everyone has the budget to go the extra mile to implement such state-of-the-art tech to track, monitor and provide customised suggestions to the guests. There is also high competition from the likes of Airbnb who have mastered this art and from hotels like The Four Seasons who recently spent $18-million on a website revamp with a big focus on personalised services.
What personalization is to your guests?
The hospitality industry is driven by customer satisfaction, her values, preferences and fulfilling her expectations. Before aspiring to fulfil the expectations of the guest, it is very important to understand what is expected from the hotel. As per a study conducted by Sabre and presented at Envision UK, during London Tech Week, these are what today guest expect by personalised services.
- 52% – Companies address me by my name.
- 49% – Companies only send me offers and services that are relevant to my interest/ situation.
- 42% – Companies know my history with them and reflect this in their correspondence with me.
- 27% – Companies only send me offers and services that are relevant to my location.
Personalization is different at different levels of the journey and it is very challenging as customers preferences keep changing. Consumers want authenticity, personalization, removal of friction, and on-demand functionality in their travel experiences.
Reign of Technology
Technology has already taken over with modern hotel management systems, CRMs, guest tracking apps, mobile apps for guests; all available to the hotel. In the future, technologies including artificial intelligence, mobile applications, and the Internet of Things (IoT) should enhance the customer’s experience to remove pain points from travel.
Business analytics and big data companies will allow travel and hospitality companies to integrate advanced analytics with machine learning and AI to learn and adapt to customer requirements and behaviour in real-time. Travel and hospitality companies may spread their reach across new innovative experiences market, as more and more local experiences are valued by customers.
The future is not just about providing what the customers would like to be provided with but reinventing the whole journey and understanding what the customers are ready to adopt and what those new experiences bring to the hotel.
Since technology has already paved its way in personalization, the next challenge for hoteliers would be to find the right medium to deliver it. Having a foolproof action plan is more important than just capturing guest data at all touch points. Here are some examples of personalization in the travel industry as per IBM Global report Hotel 2020: The personalization paradox,
Source: Hotel 2020: The personalization paradox
Finally, technology and guest preferences are bound to evolve, it is best that hoteliers put in place a standardised system to implement personalization. For when new technology and guest expectations change it is easy to adapt and stay ahead of the curve.
Do share your thoughts on how personalization is shaping the hospitality industry.