Personalization is the future for hotels
How can you ensure your hotel survives in the face of change? Travellers increasingly use alternative accommodations rather than hotels. And when they do stay in a hotel, they often book their stays through online travel agencies (OTAs). How do you compete?
In a Hospitality Insights article, Four Actionable Ways to Stay Relevant through Customization and Personalized Services, Dr. Meng-Mei Maggie Chen argues personalization is the key:
“Leveraging customer data and technology to initiate customized offerings and personalization could help to make [hotels] more relevant.”
Chen makes a distinction between customization and personalization. In customization, the guest can choose amenities or services based on their own preferences. Personalization involves the hotel anticipating the preferences of the guest and offering them options that will please them.
Personalization, says Chen, works best for repeat customers, because the process of personalization happens based on data collected from previous visits. But, she argues, that needn’t be the case. Hotels can – and should – collect data about guest preferences at the time of booking.
Chen recognizes that there are challenges to collecting data prior to a visit. Not all guests will want to complete an additional online form, and the prevalence of OTA bookings mean hotels have fewer opportunities to engage with guests prior to their visit.
One of the most effective personalization tools a hotel can deploy is fibre-enabled WiFi. By offering seamless WiFi, hotels satisfy the preference of the majority of their guests. Seven out of ten travellers say the availability of WiFi impacts their booking decisions. When guests have WiFi that meets all of their needs, they can fully utilize the personalization tools on their own devices.
Chen identifies four steps hotels can take to ensure their relevance:
- Improve the guest stay
- Initiate customization opportunities
- Improve data collection
- Use customer data
Improve the guest stay
The guest stay can be improved, says Chen, when hotels provide the kind of personalization options that guests might have in their own homes. Hotels can make sure they have a selection of adapters to lend to guests so that they are always able to use their own devices. They could also provide guests with the opportunity to cast video from their own devices onto the TV in their suite – as long as their internet connection can keep up with these demands. Hospitality experts recommend at least 4 Mbps of bandwidth per hotel room. For more information, continue reading here.
Initiate customization opportunities
Customization opportunities should happen before the guests arrive. Hotels can create web forms in which guests can customize their room. Allowing guests to choose the items in their mini bar or to request items such as yoga mats or printers for their room. Webforms could be available as part of the booking, with reminders via email before the guest stay. Hotels should also encourage guests to make requests for customization during their stay.
Improve data collection
Data collection can help hotels customize a stay for even those guests who don’t participate in customization options. Staff should be collecting data about each interaction with a guest as well as collect data on the use of amenities and perks. For example, staff can note items used from the mini bar or from the selection of toiletries.
Use customer data
Hotels, says Chen, already collect a great deal of data, but they need to put their learnings, and data, into practice. Hotels need to integrate all their data so that it becomes useful. Data collected by staff, web analytics collected via online booking, and customer customization decisions should be integrated. Collecting large data sets will allow hotels to leverage big data analysis for predictive customization. This approach can be particularly useful to hotels in tourist regions, where there is a wealth of data to be collected but less likelihood of a repeat stay – such as those surrounding Banff, Jasper, or Lake Louise.
Technology has forever changed how guests find accommodations and what they expect when they travel. Technology is also the path in which hotels can stay relevant. Whether you leverage big data or simply offer your guests their preferred amenity, fibre-enabled WiFi is capable of generating revenue and ensuring a return on investment (ROI).
For more information on our secure fibre connectivity solutions, contact your Axia salesperson at firstname.lastname@example.org or 1-866-773-3348.