What do you need to consider in 2019? It’s all about ‘your people’…
In our wonderful hotel world, we have two types of people – our guests and our team. In 2019 I believe that understanding and meeting the needs of both will be crucial
So let’s start with your guests… I have written many times that they key to success and fulfilling customer expectations is by personalising their stay. Guests as we know are expecting more and more each year and their expectations only go one way and that is up. So what are we doing as an industry to stay ahead of the game or at least keep up? Well at the very least, we should be recognising our guests. Take the scenario of a returning guest that had requested a late check-out or perhaps had booked a spa experience or dining in the past. Wouldn’t it lift all parts of our customer offering and our guest experience if we at the very least understood that this guest may require the same level of service?
Ask yourself, how good are you at capturing data on your guests? And more importantly, how do you use it? Now I realise that you are tied if you don’t get information from OTA’s but isn’t it up to us as an industry and you as an individual to try and least train your guests that ‘direct is best’.
Not only do they get the best rates, packages and availability if they book direct but we need to let our customers know that by booking direct we get to understand if they have been before; what their preferences are and how we can tailor their stay around their own individual needs.
So that leads me on to ‘data‘. To reach any level of personalisation, you need data – not lots of data – just relevant data. Do not ask yourself ‘what can I capture’. Ask yourself ‘what will I find useful’. There is a huge difference.
But when looking at what kind of data you need, you will first of all need to train your team. I rarely find hoteliers that invest enough money in training of any kind, but instead of my ranting about the lack of overall training in our industry, let’s focus on your first customer touch points.
The emphasis of course should always be about the customer experience when guests first arrive with us, but secondary to that, teams should understand just how important data collection is. Make sure that both at time of booking and check-in, email addresses, segments, sources, country of origin etc are checked and entered properly. The data out is only as good as the data in. You need to be able to profile your guests and this is the first step in actually understanding your business. This kind of engagement and passion for your business only comes from ‘the top’. So make sure your team are trained, enthused to sell and that you invest in them.
So how do you make sure you have as many bases covered as possible? Well, we are all busy people. Hotels are notoriously under-staffed and time is precious, so I believe that clever hoteliers will use 2019 to embrace technology. It is no longer acceptable to have a customer book a package with spa and dinner and expect them to call the hotel or force them to complete their booking without being allowed to choose their preferred spa treatment or dining time during the process. Systems need to integrate. Data needs to be shared. Software companies must collaborate. Why? We cannot expect our guests to have to ‘work’ to make a reservation. It is not acceptable to have a room confirmation; a spa reservation and a dining time confirmed, all from 3 separate systems. Trust me, this is happening in our hotels today and we have to shape up and sort it!
And finally, and on the back of dining, are we ready for the change (which by the way has already happened) in our customers dining habits? Vegetarianism; food intolerances; allergies are now the norm’. Our guests are already vegan, so why aren’t our menu’s? Add to that, we need to show that we as an industry are environmentally friendly, ethical and have a social responsibility. The hotels that embrace this – not as a fad – but a way actually being business responsible along with potentially gaining more business from socially and ethically responsible customers – and that is the way that 2019 is shaping up – well for me anyway…
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