Personalisation is not a new concept, but the process is still completely subjective - from one hotel to the next - and very few businesses have mastered the process.
Faced with growing competition from sharing economy providers, the increasing influence of online travel agents in the booking process and the rapidly evolving needs and expectations of guests, hoteliers are under pressure to not only attract guests, but find reasons to keep them coming back.
And with tourist visits to the UK reaching an all time high this year, the chance to attract more international guests has never been higher.
So how do hoteliers personalise each and every experience to achieve customer loyalty? Should they be personalising guest’s experiences based on their previous stays, booking history or reservation notes?
Or perhaps something different altogether…
Owning your hotel brand in the technology age
Technology has changed the way people book, document and review their hotel stay. So much so that guests generally have a perception of your hotel – be that good or bad – before they step foot in the lobby.
Why? Because they do their homework. They visit TripAdvisor, look at your star rating and see how well you deal with and address negative comments. Hotels can win awards for outstanding customer service, and pay for a high Google ranking, but guest reviews can make or break your hotel brand, so make sure international guests are seeing positives before they book.
Personalisation: Moving away from one-size fits all
While there’s no quick fix to ensuring your reviews remain positive, personalising your guests experience, with the value adds and incentives they want to receive, is a step in the right direction, but how do you go about it?
According to Travelzoo’s recent Travel Trends survey, personalising the travel experience based on guest’s nationality is a good place to start. The research found significant differences in the perks and incentives travellers want to receive depending on the country they are from:
- UK travellers prefer a free room upgrade (54 per cent) and complimentary breakfast (52 per cent)
- US travellers would opt for discounted rates on future stays (32 per cent) and a free breakfast (40 per cent)
- Australian travellers show a preference for free breakfast (74 per cent) and complimentary Wi-Fi (56 per cent)
- Chinese travellers prefer free transportation (25 per cent) and free meals (22 per cent)
- German travellers would like a free breakfast (80 per cent) and complimentary Wi-Fi (59 per cent)
What’s clear from the research is that what constitutes a personalised experience, particularly in the hotel industry, differs from one guest (and one nation) to the next. Some guests, particularly those from Germany and Australia, want instant gratification in return for their custom, while US travellers value longer term rewards from a hotel, such as discounted rates on future stays.
Big data: Give your guests what they want, when they want it
While this research points to a clear correlation between nationality and preferred incentives at hotels, no two guests are the same, so no single method of personalisation will help you achieve the perfect customer experience, every time.
You need to look at multiple methods of categorising, and addressing, the needs and wants of your guests - whether that be their booking history, age, sex, or nationality.
If this sounds like a daunting task, don’t fret. According to IBM 90 per cent of the world's data has been created in the last two years and the explosion of technology means you’re now in a better position than ever before to give guests what they want, before they even know they want it.
When used right technology gives you the opportunity to create personal experiences that guests will love, you just need to decide on the personalisation techniques that work best for your hotel, and more importantly for your guests.