How Tech is Changing Personalisation and Guest Experience – IT NEWS NIGERIA

How Tech is Changing Personalisation and Guest Experience – IT NEWS NIGERIA

CONTRIBUTED:

The word “personalisation” carries many
connotations. Perhaps it’s a monogram or engraving to signify ownership of an
object. Or maybe it’s home décor, what makes the space your own. What may not
have made your list of highly personalised experiences is a hotel room – or
even a hotel stay. Odd, isn’t it? Especially now that the hospitality
industry’s newest, most popular mission is to provide not just the bed and the
bath but the “beyond” – the unique guest experience.

From a historical perspective, hotels have a
checkered past as far as “unique” goes. “Standardised expectations
don’t particularly appeal to younger post-millennial travelers,” confirms Rentia
Austin, Hospitality Executive at EOH Infor Service Services,
Infor’s
Master Partner in Africa, operating as a Gold Partner). “They look
for more experiential travel, at times for business but particularly for
leisure travel. The rise of private providers, such as Airbnb, speaks to the
demand for out-of-the-ordinary travel experiences.”

There is a very significant difference in the
twenty-first century version of non-standardised accommodation: the game
changer is the technology of sharing. In the past, it generally wasn’t
practical to get insights, references and reviews before you committed to your
stay. Today, it’s hard to imagine that you could find fifty square feet of
accommodation that haven’t been photographed, shared, blogged, rated and
reviewed in a myriad of online outlets. It’s the age of social media, so there
is no excuse for the traveler not to be forewarned and forearmed.

“However, personalisation extends beyond unconventional accommodation by individualising communication with travelers, understanding both who they are and why they travel. It is how major chains could conceivably combat the competitive threat posed by every apartment building ever constructed,” adds Austin.

Armed with something as easily acquired as a postal
code, marketing geniuses can assemble what can be a likely description of the
traveler in question. “It’s a good start when a hotel chain sees each guest as
an individual rather than a demographic group member – but it’s only a start,”
believes Austin. “True personalisation demands more than guest preference
retention. Remembering a room type preference is nothing more than table stakes
in a competitive market. One very important differentiator that adds value and
deepens customer insight is to understand the reason that the guest is in house
– be it business, leisure or conference participation.”

Having a sense of a trip’s justification allows the
hotelier to cater to preferences that apply not just to that particular guest,
but to that particular guest’s travel “persona.” A leisure travel
persona can change the accommodation preferences, service levels, assistance
requests and additional revenue opportunities. Now consider the business
persona: as a demographic group, business travelers may be more inclined to concern
themselves with loyalty point earning opportunities but less inclined toward
inclusive meals or services, since their bill is a reimbursable business
expense. Businesspeople are more likely to take advantage of express check-in
and checkout services, and less likely to seek extensive assistance or guidance
from the front desk. Applying travel personas is an important preference
differentiator that helps tailor a stay and enhance the guest experience. Another
favorite way to court guest favor is to integrate social interests into travel
opportunities.

In a rapidly evolving technological landscape, let’s
not lose sight of the original mission. When you think about the word
“personalisation” what should first come to mind is “you.”
Systems and programmes that enable guest recognition, tailor offers and speak
to the guest of extraordinary experiences provide the differentiation that
separates the good from the outstanding. Thankfully, technologies are available
that provide the tools to better know, understand and recognise guests, their
needs and their desires.

“In the chain hotel’s world of highly standardised
options, it is customer relationship management software that provides the best
competitive advantage in a marketplace that values the unique above all else.
The best approach for a personalisation programme that brings hotel guests into
sharper focus, improves the customer relationship, enhances revenue and results
in more rewarding guest experiences is always a ‘you first’ proposition,”
concludes Austin.

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