Embracing New Digital Opportunities to Enhance Hospitality Experiences
Hospitality companies face increasing pressure to capitalize on growing volumes of guest-oriented data – and to translate the resulting insights into improved service, enhanced sales and other positive outcomes. Few, however, are delivering on this challenge.
Read on to learn about how digital solutions can help the industry realize the “art of the possible” for customer engagement.
Enable high-touch hospitality
In hospitality, customer insights are often spread across disparate data siloes, which makes delivering a flawless, well-integrated experience an enormous industry challenge. For example, if a hotel customer books their travel through an aggregator website, the hotel brand has a harder time gaining a holistic view of that guest. The hotel misses rich engagement opportunities at the point of sale and on property, as agents are not equipped with the latest information.
Traditionally, hospitality companies have used large warehouse and data aggregating solutions to manage customer information. But this moves the industry farther from real-time, nuanced responsiveness. Embracing a platform approach, or software-as-a-service model, helps businesses modernize infrastructure to integrate and consume more applications and services. As a result, they can capture meaningful data and context about the customer journey. This model allows hotels to handle increasing numbers of loyalty program members and their transactions to determine what customers want and need. Modern analytics engines can interpret this data up to 1,000 times faster than the traditional data warehouse technology can and turn insights into action.
For example, a guest who frequently stays at the same hotel for business trips can enjoy an experience that incorporates their personal preferences. Data and analytics in the loyalty system could automatically recognize room preferences. If a desired room is unavailable for the customer’s next trip, the hotel can book a similar room to replicate the experience. Or, it could proactively reach out to the guest based on their check-in patterns to offer a different room in advance.
Empower guests with touchless experiences
Today’s consumers are also increasingly self-reliant, mobile-independent and tech-savvy. They want to use apps and mobile devices to take a much more active role in researching and booking all elements of their travel experience, from lodging to food and entertainment. They expect efficient, secure and personalized experiences from their travel tools and providers.
To meet these demands, hospitality enterprises can modernize and innovate their technology to enable touchless engagement. This will further empower customers to determine how and when they want to engage.
Hotels are addressing this trend by implementing solutions such as mobile concierge apps that allow guests to request services right from their smartphone. Additionally, through automated text messaging, hotels can make it easy for customers to provide feedback about their experience, based on which the hotel can take immediate action. An example includes sending an automated text message to a hotel guest to inquire about their satisfaction during a current visit. If that guest were to respond with feedback that there is a noisy occupant in the next room, the hotel could resolve the matter and update their loyalty member profile to indicate a quiet zone preference for future stays.
The touchless engagement trend is also playing out in restaurants that allow customers to reserve tables and pre-order for pick-up or delivery. Additionally, restaurants are implementing customer-facing apps to capture data about preferences and share relevant offers and promotions.
Personalize service through proximity technology
Geolocation technology provides another important opportunity for hospitality companies to enhance customer experience. Bluetooth low-energy beacons that trace cellular connectivity enable hotels to recognize individual customers and enable services such as keyless entry through a mobile phone. This technology also allows hospitality staff to easily identify VIPs, and create intimacy through personalized greetings, services and offers.
Sensors in a guest’s room key can help hotels understand how and when they use services, making it easier to discover opportunities to add value. Does the guest use the onsite fitness center every morning? Perhaps they’d appreciate the housekeeping staff leaving an extra bottle of water and an extra towel when cleaning the room. Additionally, being able to track when housekeeping staff have entered a hotel room gives the front desk immediate and accurate information about available clean rooms ready for new guests.
To meet customer demands, hospitality companies must embrace digital tools to drive greater understanding, value and convenience to enhance guest experiences. Data management and analytics are the keys to delivering a more satisfying — and profitable — guest experience. Companies that harness digital opportunities to capture, manage and analyze guest-related information will deepen customer intimacy and, ultimately, improve bottom-line business performance.
Cindy Falschlehner is the general manager responsible for Consumer Travel and Airline Services at DXC Technology. She has more than 25 years of experience in the information services industry supporting travel and transportation clients with a focus on client management, sales engagement and financial discipline. Cindy has served as vice president of the Open Travel Alliance.