Personalized, Interactive Marketing is the Future
By Kristie Willmott Group Director of E-Business & Customer Development, Jumeirah | January 27, 2012
Let's start with a scenario: Ms. World Traveler receives an invitation - on her Blackberry, cell phone, maybe by email - that could have come from a close friend. The invitation encourages her to try a resort that seems to have read her mind - that knows exactly what she likes most, that has everything she's been looking for in a luxurious weekend escape.
Or, perhaps while browsing through her favorite luxury boutique she passes by a large screen that says "Hello!" A handsome man onscreen invites her to find out more about the hotel behind him by touching images around him. She explores the spa, the restaurants, the swimming pool, the sumptuous suite accommodations.
Convinced, she makes a reservation online. Upon arrival there is no check-in: she is greeted by name and presented with a card. The elevator knows which floor to take her, her door unlocks as she approaches and the room is everything she imagined it would be, including her personal favorites in the mini-bar and bath. The flat screen television welcomes her with suggestions for dining and some special offers to her liking at the boutique downstairs. Later, as she enters the dining room, she is greeted by name and a server makes suggestions of dishes and wines she can't resist. And so it goes, throughout the stay: Ms. World Traveler is close to believing that this fabulous resort was built just for her.
Historically, the finest hotels were those that treated guests like royalty; their every individual need and wish were anticipated and met. It is also true that, historically, many of those guests WERE royalty, or fabulously wealthy and well-known. Their particular tastes and expectations were communicated by retinues of servants or spread from GM to GM by word of mouth and reputation.
Today's world of travel is profoundly changed. Thanks largely to technology, we live in an "It's all about me" world for everyone - from kids with their first cell phone to group tour travelers to celebrities and heads of state. This "make it for me" world was developed by Gen X, who demand it; discovered by the Baby Boomers, who take to it; and is taken for granted by the Millenniums, our future customers. Simply put, consumers expect to get what they want when they want and how they want it. As Dr. Lalia Rach has written, "Knowing me - that's luxury."
So why then, do we as hoteliers too often serve up information, offers and incentives to broad market segments with so little consideration of the individual and his or her particular preferences, cultural nuances, age, even how he or she relates to the technology that provide the information? (As early as 2001, a study by Booz-Allen and Hamilton identified as many as seven different online behaviors, including what time of day a consumer goes on line, that play a pivotal role in the success of online advertisements and web site interactions, yet many of us continue to treat the web as another static media - one size fits all).