In a recent report ‘Top Trends in Hospitality for 2019’ from Sommet Education, Marie-France Derderian, Senior Lecturer and Director of the MSc on Hospitality, Entrepreneurship and Innovation at Gilon Institute of Higher Education, said: “With tech-savvy millennials closely followed by a generation of digital natives, technological innovation will continue to shape the industry.” With in-room stay technologies and portable smart devices, how can hoteliers learn more about their guests and what strategies can they inform to make better business decisions from data aggregation?
In the last Part of this series, we discussed various marketing strategies in order for you to capture the Chinese tourist’s attention. With the focus now on you, with bookings and stays at your hotel, how do you make the most of a guest’s in-stay experience to guarantee returning customers? The key to keeping Chinese travelers happy and consequently loyal to your brand is to utilize the power of personalization.
“When you are just one out of a heaving mass of 1.4 billion, feeling special or unique is a treasured experience not often received. As China’s cities swell and lives become increasingly homogenized, brands are finding ways to make their consumers feel that unique touch.”
- Mark Tanner, Founder and Managing Director of China Skinny
As a recent Skift article emphatically puts it: “Personalization in the hotel industry has ceased to be a trend. Today, it’s an obligation.” To keep your hotel relevant and strong against competitors, personalization plays a crucial role, especially when it comes to Chinese consumers, as a study by Accenture further emphasizes:
“Chinese travelers, compared to travelers globally, are half as likely to say price drives their choice for private accommodations. They place a higher value on unique experiences compared to travelers globally. Hoteliers must emphasize the unique, personalized and hyper-relevant experiences they can offer.”
— Accenture, The Dragon Travels: What Chinese Travelers Want
There’s evidence within the industry that points towards providing a higher level of personalization to guests, Chinese or not, that can bring great gains for hotels.
“The results of these improved personalization efforts are numerous, including higher booking probability, increased user satisfaction, and a greater likelihood of repeat visits to the website, leading to better brand loyalty.”
— Duetto, in collaboration with Skift
Tailoring experiences to individual guests requires data that can help a hotelier gain a better understanding and form a picture of who the guest is. Thus, the most important step to personalization is to gather this information, and there are numerous ways hoteliers can do this.
Hotel Websites and Apps
One simple but effective way to learn more about hotel guests is to provide them with a website or mobile app dedicated to your hotel brand. By connecting directly with your guests, you will be able to harness information (such as name, age, country of origin, room preferences, preferences of amenities, the purpose of trip/visit etc.) more accurately when bookings or queries are made. Communication is also made easier between hotelier and guest, whether it’s during the booking stage, the stay itself, or after their stay. Communication is key when it comes to knowing your hotel guests in order to tailor their future experiences with your hotel.
A dedicated branded mobile app will benefit your hotel in more ways than just getting to know your guests better. The North America Hotel Guest Satisfaction Index Study by J.D. Power and Associates in 2017 found that hotels which incorporate mobile functionality into their stays and booking processes gain higher guest satisfaction, and are more likely to increase the amount of direct bookings made. The booking process can be an important vessel through which hotels can already provide a personalized experience through previous guest data.
“When potential guests are shopping on a hotel’s website, there’s a clear opportunity before a booking is made for properties to demonstrate the acute attention they’ve paid to individual guests’ preferences. This is accomplished by using website personalization technology, allowing hotels to automatically and intuitively suggest particular room categories, package types, and even rates tailored to each user’s expectations.”
— Duetto, in collaboration with Skift
Two essential points must be noted for added success: for a fruitful mobile strategy, hotels should run campaigns in order to encourage guests to download their app or use their website, and provide a sufficiently satisfactory loyalty program to harness brand loyalty and repeat customers.
Internet of Things
A connected hotel room with Internet of Things is incredibly valuable to hotels. Killing it two birds with one stone, smart in-room technology provides guests with new and novel technological amenities that can be used to personalize the guest experience, something older hotel rooms cannot provide. Through allowing guests to connect and utilize the Internet of Things in their rooms, hotels are better able to collect and track guests’ preferences through data collected by those gadgets.
As homes are becoming technologically smarter, many of these gadgets and devices can also be adopted in the hospitality industry to create an equally smart hotel room, giving guests the comfort and convenience they would enjoy as if they were at home. IoT can allow guests to control all things about their room, such as temperature, lighting, curtains, entertainment systems, or even the shower — all through one device. With the incorporation of AI technology, such as the likes of Amazon’s Alexa or Google Assistant, with products like Chromecast or Apple TV, guests can gain access to familiar streaming services, such as Netflix or Amazon Prime Video. Smartglass is another fantastic option, of which some hotels are already utilizing in showers to act as a writing surface or self-blinding windows, the darkness of which can be set both manually and digitally.
Looking at current applications, Hilton and Marriott are already testing these tech-savvy rooms. Hilton’s “Connected Room” was being beta tested in numerous hotels in 2018 with potential for further expansion to more locations. Members and guests can control everything inside their room via their mobile devices, whether the room’s lighting, heating, air conditioning, ventilation, or entertainment systems, such as the television or music. Hilton is also testing digital key access for their rooms. With similar functions and services, Marriott is developing its own version of Hilton’s “Connected Room” in its Innovation Lab in Bethesda, known as the IoT Guestroom Lab.
A Tailor-Made Experience
With the help of a well run hotel website and mobile app to drive direct bookings and better communicate with your guests, in tandem with a well-connected, tech-savvy hotel room with Internet of Things, personalizing a Chinese tourist’s stay becomes an easy and approachable task. With these customizable tools and a wealth of knowledge about your guests, your hotel will be able to maximize the Chinese guests’ experiences, earning you more high-spending repeat customers whose brand loyalty increases over time.
“Today’s hotelier recognizes the value that personalization has on the guest experience. The more guests feel that every aspect of their experience was tailored exactly for them, the greater the likelihood that they will spend more on property and return again and again.”
— Duetto, in collaboration with Skift
References - Part 3
- ChinaSkinny: Personalisation for Chinese Customers, and The Essential Steps to Achieve It
- Skift: Why Personalization Is The Future of Hotel E-Commerce
- Skift: Guests Are More Satisfied at Hotels That Are Mobile Friendly
- Hospitality Technology: The Guestroom of The Future: Hyper-Personalized, Hyper-Connected
- Skift: Hilton and Marriott Turn to the Internet of Things to Transform the Hotel Room Experience
- Accenture: What Chinese Travelers Want