Optimization Requires Knowing One's Guest... But What Does That Take to Accomplish?
By Mark Heymann Chairman & CEO, Unifocus | August 25, 2019
An optimized hotel operation consistently delivers against guest expectations. But in today's high-tech world, hotels have shifted more responsibility to the guest for his or her own experience. And a proliferation of brands-as many as 1,000 across the globe at current count-have blurred distinctions that once drove brand loyalty.
With fewer interpersonal interactions, how does a hotel operator stay abreast of guest expectations to impact satisfaction and, ultimately, inspire that guest to return and recommend-the ultimate goal of any service business?
Technology Drives the Guest Experience
Technology is driving changes in guest expectations today, and the fast pace of innovation makes it a challenge for operators to stay ahead of the curve. Travelers can book their hotel stay online then download an app that lets them bypass the front desk check-in process and access their room via their smartphone. They can place room service orders or request more towels from housekeeping via an in-room digital assistant like Alexa, and in some cases have those ordered delivered by a robot.
As guests continue to take on more responsibility for their own service delivery, they are increasingly happy to do so. The challenge for hoteliers is that all of these now-automated actions were once touchpoints in the guest experience. And those touchpoints have traditionally created opportunities for hotel staff to interact with guests, differentiate themselves from competitors, and influence guests' intent to return and recommend.
Add to that the proliferation of brands and a sameness of amenities at all but the highest-level hotels, at what point does the hotel product become commoditized? What replaces the traditional moments of truth that hotels once used to differentiate themselves from competitors? And how well can an operator know guests' expectations and how well the hotel is meeting them when there are fewer opportunities to interact with them?