July 20, 2021
The mission of the hospitality industry and hotel organizations in general is creating a consistent sense of welcome and a great hotel guest experience in a range of contexts. To do that effectively, knowing who your guests really are and what they’re looking for during their stay is integral to accomplishing that mission. This has traditionally taken the form of focused hotel guest personalization strategies, largely accomplished via CRM data collection and analysis across locations, most efficiently accomplished on a cloud-based hospitality platform.
In parallel, guest expectations have evolved greatly, specifically around the kind of details that will make their stay unique to them and their specific needs. Services provided by hotel groups and the ways to access them should support that. This may vary depending on the organization, the regions, and the guest profiles involved. So, what’s an effective framework to support personalization strategies to enhance the guest experience? These four areas can serve as a starting point.
1. Create a clearer picture of who your ideal guest is – and act on it
Especially during times of lower occupancy which the industry has seen in unprecedented levels lately, knowing who turns to your hotel group and locations for their travel and accommodation needs and making sure they feel welcomed is paramount to serving the central mission of the industry. Utilizing CRM via hotel PMS across all your locations, it’s important to discover who your high-value guests really are, and what you can add to make their stay an acknowledgement of their individuality.
This information allows you to craft relevant offers to them more effectively, and even to include low-cost but meaningful rewards as an added touch during their stay – a free drink at the bar, a personalized note and voucher for a spa treatment, a complimentary appetizer at the hotel restaurant, and others. Even as technology becomes more sophisticated, some things never change. Making room for the little things that make a guest experience memorable is always going to be a vital value-add to boost the quality of a stay and encourage your best guests to continue with you in the future.
2. Scale your platform to sustain long-term relationships
Beyond these little details that add a personal touch, it’s valuable to consider the long-term plan to continue to know your guests and build on their histories to serve them better. To do this, looking at how well your platform will scale is a good place to start. Long-term connections with guests should be the goal to drive the development of personalized services and experiences. It’s important to consider how well your technology platform supports that goal.
When at the booking stage, how does your process currently support guest preferences, added services during their stay, requests for in-room items, and other details? How easy is it for guests to choose those things in preparation for their stay? How straightforward is it for your organization to record and respond to those requests while continuously building a clearer profile of high lifetime value guests? These are the key areas that will create the continuity needed to help ensure great guest experiences, return visits, future revenue, and greater potential profitability.
3. Emphasize guest control and agency via mobile hospitality technology
The strict transactional models of the past that happen at the beginning and end of a stay have evolved into something that looks more like a conversation that is continuous throughout the journey. As important as hotel PMS integrated CRM records are to keeping track of guest histories, good communications and collaboration with guests puts the best possible experience in the realm of the present and the immediate. It makes the guest experience a collaborative effort.
Enabling contactless check-ins and check-outs add another layer of control, granting guests the freedom to manage their own experiences on their own devices. Throughout their stay, guests have agency in determining the quality of their stay, and that empowerment becomes an essential part of building that long-term relationship we touched on earlier. When guests can review and choose extra services, consider room upgrades, make in-room requests wherever they are, and when they can provide feedback on how their stay is going so far via text exchanges, the guest is in control and is an active participant in the personalization process.
4. Always be mindful and respectful of privacy concerns
Fleshing out a fuller profile to serve your ideal hotel guests in a unique fashion based on their histories and direct input isn’t just about data collection and intelligence. It’s your guests’ personal information. Greater data granularity aside then, developing hotel guest personalization strategies is also about ensuring understanding and acknowledged consent around those activities, along with a readiness to directly address any concerns around privacy your guests may have. For your organization, this requires clarity, transparency, and willingness to engage at every point during the process.
Getting consumer buy-in when it comes to personal data collection should be considered another way to serve guest needs. Acknowledging how personal data will be managed by your organization is the first step in reducing hesitancy and concern, and in gaining appropriate consent. This means letting them know why their information will be collected, how it will be used, how it will not be used, and how it will be kept secure. Establishing transparency around these questions will help enhance their experience and create a respectful dynamic between them and your organization.
Long-term value for guests and organizations alike
Respectful and collaborative dynamics that inform personalization help to create value for guests and for your organization in the long-term. As much as more efficient data management and intelligence helps your organization map out a strategy, it’s important to remember that the object is about better relationships between you and your guests, characterized by the intelligence and responsiveness of your hotel locations, greater guest agency during the whole of the guest journey, and a sense of continuity and scalability even as time passes and conditions change.
How does hospitality technology in the cloud help you to create a solid foundation for more personalized services and better relationships with your guests? We’re interested to hear your thoughts about personalization and your own process to enable it.