How AccorHotels Uses Data to Enhance the Customer Journey

By Emanuel Baudart Global Chief Customer Officer, Accor Hotels | June 25, 2017

Where we are Today

Undoubtedly, the hotel and resort industry was built around customer satisfaction and experience. A lot of hoteliers have gotten lost in the battle of direct bookings and racing to fill every room in the hotel. But no traveler books a cozy guest room, a transformative spa treatment, or a colorful signature cocktail created from local ingredients unless they believe they’re going to be pleased. If an hotelier can’t fulfill their customers’ desires the first time around, they likely won’t get a second chance.

Historically, hoteliers focused on purely transactional relationships with their guests. The product took precedence over the client, and the selling of a room was more important than creating an experience. Now that transactional model has shifted to a relational model in which customers want to be recognized and catered to, their desires anticipated and fulfilled, and their patronage duly rewarded.

Customer Relationships in the Digital Age

Digital technology has intensified customer relationships for better and for worse. Everything has a call to action whether it be instructions to ‘download the app’ or ‘text to book.’ Today’s consumers are more widely connected to the businesses they patronize – and to each other – than ever before. With the tap of a keypad, guests can share their experiences and opinions – in retrospect and in real time – with a constantly growing audience across the Internet and social media. As a result, like the digital landscape itself, the possibilities for hoteliers to create and nurture those relationships are endless.

In this new and continually developing environment, hoteliers must ensure that they are able to provide a service that matches their customers’ expectations whatever the motivation was for choosing a property in the first place. What is true in other industries also applies to hospitality: properly managing customer feedback is now vital to success.

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Coming up in February 2018...

Social Media: Engagement is Key

There are currently 2.3 billion active users of social media networks and savvy hotel operators have incorporated social media into their marketing mix. There are a few Goliath channels on which one must have a presence (Facebook & Twitter) but there are also several newer upstart channels (Instagram, Snapchat &WeChat, for example) that merit consideration. With its 1.86 billion users, Facebook is a dominant platform where operators can drive brand awareness, facilitate bookings, offer incentives and collect sought-after reviews. Twitter's 284 million users generate 500 million tweets per day, and operators can use its platform for lead generation, building loyalty, and guest interaction. Instagram was originally a small photo-sharing site but it has blown up into a massive photo and video channel. The site can be used to post photos of the hotel property, as well as creating Instagram Stories - personal videos that disappear from the channel after 24 hours. In this regard, Instagram and Snapchat are now in direct competition. WeChat is a Chinese company whose aim is to be the App for Everything - instant messaging, social media, shopping and payment services - all in a single platform. In addition to these channels, blogging continues to be a popular method to establish leadership, enhance reputations, and engage with customers in a direct and personal way. The key to effective use of all social media is to find out where your customers are and then, to the fullest extent possible, engage with them on a personal level. This engagement is what creates a personal connection and sustains brand loyalty. The February Hotel Business Review will explore these issues and examine how some hotels are successfully integrating social media into their operations.