Strategies to Improve and Enhance Customer Experience

By Adrian Kurre Global Head, Homewood Suites & Home2 Suites by Hilton | April 24, 2016

When it comes to an exceptional customer experience, it’s not just what you offer, but how, when and why you offer it. Employed thoughtfully and effectively, efforts to drive customer service to new levels become infectious throughout a hotel organization, down to each individual property and team member.

Easy to say, harder to execute. To stay on the forefront of providing the ultimate experience for business and leisure travelers takes continuous innovation. Integrating new technology, continuously improving team member training, and striving for targeted and personalized customer interactions remain essential to success now and going forward.

Unique to the hospitality industry is also the ongoing need to refresh properties with little or no disruption to guests. Strategic planning, well-orchestrated execution and a result that will ‘wow’ travelers all contribute to a great and seamless guest experience. Renovation is also an excellent opportunity to incorporate customer preferences and technologic advances throughout a hotel system.

Strategically Embrace New Technology

We have amazing technology in the hospitality industry today – allowing us and our guests to enjoy capabilities we might not have imagined even 5 or 10 years ago. Innovations with great potential emerge all the time, but in a practical sense it’s important to strategically select the right technology for your hotel business.

I learned an effective strategy from futurist Daniel Burrus, with whom I worked for many years. Instead of casting a wide net, Daniel advises keeping the “hard trends” in mind when choosing technology for the future. This approach increases the likelihood of incorporating an innovation in your business that customers will embrace and enjoy for many years to come. Daniel told me he uses this strategy, and he has not made a wrong projection in 30-plus years.

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Coming up in January 2018...

Mobile Technology: Relentless Innovation

Technology has become a crucial component in attracting and retaining hotel guests, and the need to enhance a guest’s technology experience is driving a relentless pace of innovation. To meet and exceed guest expectations, 54% of hotels will spend more on technology in 2018, and mobile solutions in particular will top the list of capital investments. Many hotels are integrating mobile booking, mobile keys, mobile payments and mobile check-in into their operations. Other hotels are emphasizing the in-room experience, boosting bandwidth and upgrading flat screen TVs to more easily interface with guest mobile devices. And though not yet mainstream, there are many exciting technology developments on the near horizon. The Internet of Things (loT) is taking form in some places, and can be found in guest room control systems, voice activation systems, and in wearable sensors that can be used for access and payment options. Virtual reality headsets are available at some hotels so guests can enjoy virtual trips to exotic locations or if off-property, preview conference facilities and guest rooms. How long will it be before a hotel employs a fleet of robots for room service, or utilizes a hologram as a concierge, or installs gesture-controlled walls that feature interactive digital displays? Some hotels are already using augmented reality for translation services, or interactive wall maps, or even virtual décor. This pace of innovation is challenging property owners and brands to stay on top of the latest technology trends while still addressing current projects. The January Hotel Business Review will explore what some hotels are doing to maximize their opportunities in the mobile technology space.