Personalization is an important part of any business. Customers appreciate it when hoteliers offer them curated experiences. They seek and even expect businesses to offer unique guest experiences to them. However, personalization in hotels is often misunderstood with customization. Personalization in hotels mainly refers to adapting products and services or even marketing strategies to meet the purpose of improving customer experience and responding effectively to their needs within a short span of time. It also makes interactions between companies and buyers easy. In contrast, customization is all about changing the existing products and services to better correspond to a customer’s needs.
We have often seen personalization being given importance in various sectors. Hotels, airlines, online booking channels such as OTAs etc., to name a few. If we were to elaborate on this a little further, you would notice that when OTAs allow their account holders to adjust their profiles according to their own likings and give them the power to control information shared with customers by adding or deleting images and facts on these channels as per their requirements, they encourage personalization.
These online channels prove to be both advertising tools and sales channels for the hoteliers using them. Which is why, it is also important for hotels to match their profiles on such channels with their overall strategy. An important point that is often missed in this regard is the fact that these online channels enhance the hotel customer experience. It also becomes imperative for hotels to be present on as many such channels as possible, in order to keep their visibility high. When more customers are able to find you, more opportunities for business arise. Channel Manager software like AxisRooms are reliable tools in managing your hotel’s inventory, price and bookings on OTAs, GDSs and metasearch engines.
Through this blog we will be looking at reasons why the hospitality industry must incline towards providing their guests a personalized experience and how it helps in improving the overall experience for guests.
Importance Of Personalization in Hotels
There is immense competition in every industry and more so in travel and tourism. Customers are often bombarded with choices. So, while they are free to choose the companies that they would like to offer their patronage to, they wouldn’t surely like to settle with those who do not understand them or meet their needs and requirements. Customers may feel unheard when the services offered do not fit their expectations and are more likely to associate with companies that know and understand them. Automating processes that aid in personalization in hotels can help in such cases, not just in improving hotel customer experience, but also revenue.
Travelers are looking for experiences which they can share with their friends once they’re back to their mundane lives. Opportunities which allow them to customize every aspect of their trip are therefore always welcome. The latest trend in the travel industry which is termed as ‘Revenge Travel’ indicates a growing willingness amongst travelers to spend on improving their stays. Splurging on add-ons is considered alright if it brings value. This is a welcome trend for hoteliers as it only brings added revenue along with good reviews. Happy travelers have a higher probability of returning and so do the good things that they have to say.
Improved Guest Experience:
Implementing personalization could well be considered an art we must all master. Simple acts of kindness and attention given to a guest’s specific needs and requirements, positively impact the perception of a hotel in the minds of their guests. For example, placing a guest’s favorite variety of flowers in his/her room or arranging for his/her preferred variety of tea or coffee would show that you pay attention to details. Remember to always ask a few questions which would give you an insight into who your guest is or what his likes and preferences are and use the information you gather through such short surveys to your advantage.
Similarly, guests appreciate it when you do not push them to act on imposed deadlines. During their stays, most guests wish to have a relaxed time. Any unnecessary urgency created is the last thing they want to deal with. When hotels let their guests have an easy time, they feel pampered and distinguished.
Including technology in a hotel’s daily operations allows more time to a hotel’s staff to involve themselves in guest interactions. It also helps in quickening problem-solving and reduces unnecessary wait time. Chatbots and contactless check-ins are examples of processes which use technology to improvise the experience they offer to guests. Web Booking Engines like AxisRooms integrated with hotel websites are another example of technology which works to grab more information about guest preferences and offers them promotional deals and special rates based on the insights gathered.
A hotel’s staff members interact with guests on a regular basis, which makes it essential for them to be trained in recording data and insights which could then help in customizing offerings; simple things that delight the guests. For example, giving a free gym membership for work travelers who visit often or breakfast in bed for regular patrons.
Marketing is a game of trial and error. Many times, things that one assumes to work may actually not in reality, and sometimes may even backfire. It can however go terribly wrong if marketing efforts are directed in the wrong direction. Customers dislike messages and promotional content that they do not find relevant to themselves or have an interest in. It is therefore important to craft campaigns that fit the right audience. Similarly, social media content must always carry a good variety of content, where there is something for everyone that suits their likings. This is pivotal in making guests feel heard, understood and as though their expectations are being met.
Data and insights form the foundation of personalized services that hotels offer. Yet, most hotels struggle to utilize them to their benefit. Getting relevant data also remains a challenge. A tool commonly used by hotels these days is a Property Management System like Hotelogix which helps small, independent properties as well as enterprise hotels to collect and store data related to their guests. It collects details such as the contact information, interests, preferences, birthdays and anniversaries; even stores their stay history. This kind of information helps hotels to connect with their guests on a personal and emotional level.
The data collected by PMS can also help in segmenting a hotel’s guests based on factors like booking type, stay dates etc. Correct segmentation helps in better targeting and that in turn leads to greater conversions and happier guests. This means that unique offers can be made in accordance with the unique needs of guests. Automating processes helps in streamlining personalization in hotels through digital upselling solutions. Guests receive targeted deals at optimal times. Examples of personalization include
A) Upselling Room Categories: This is a preferred method of improving ancillary revenue opportunities. It boosts guest spends and makes room for reselling of basic category rooms.
B) Cross-selling Ancillary Services: This provides guests an immersive experience. A romantic room set-up for couples, no time bound check-in and check-out etc. are some examples of this upselling method.
Hotel management systems like Hotelogix come with well-designed preset templates which can be used to send bulk emails. Pre-arrival emails could be great to know about hotel guests even before they arrive. These are also ideal when one wishes to offer room upgrades or boost ancillary income. Post-stay emails on the other hand are useful in building loyalty and personalizing future stays and help in keeping a feedback loop active. It is always important to listen to guest feedback, make necessary changes and improve. Proper feedback processes also help in keeping a constant touch with guests. The aforementioned web booking engines by AxisRooms can also help in providing information that you could use in planning your email marketing strategies. Which room types they like, the time of year they usually prefer travelling etc can all be used to send out targeted messages.
Summary: Hospitality Management relies on the personal connections hotels build with their guests. It helps in creating a good rapport with guests, makes it possible to gather feedback and ask necessary questions. It is crucial therefore to engage guests in a warm and welcoming experience and technology can help to this end. Personalization in hotels could get extremely tedious, but with the help of technology a lot can be achieved. Expert know-how, combined with technology, must work together to provide experiences to guests which leave a lasting impression on them.