Increasing Operational Effectiveness Through Added-value Design

By Brian West President, LifeStyling | April 01, 2012

It's a fact, adding value to products and services makes businesses more successful. The more value that businesses add to their core products and services, the better they do. But when they use design to add value, they do even better in a whole range of ways, including bigger profit, and market share.

The perceived emotional and/or functional benefits of a product are, obviously, a major factor, which influences a buying decision. At the most basic level a product acquires value in the fulfillment of its required functions, e.g. a hotel room must be an effective place to sleep but the more effective it is in terms of peacefulness, cleanliness, safety, and comfort, the greater will be its perceived value. Thus, the functional requirement dimension of product value extends to other capabilities which are not deemed imperative to the basic product performance but which are seen as welcome additions, e.g. Flat screen televisions and in-room dining. Material value is a second dimension of product value relating to visible or tangible value.

Both of these value dimensions, functional capability and material value, have the advantage of being open to quantitative analysis. They are in a sense the 'hard' factors in any value assessment procedure. However, the third dimension, that of quality, brings us beyond the threshold of quantitative assessment where intangibles enter the frame. While it is true that a quality assessment can, in one sense, be reduced to assessment of functional performance, quality is also associated with a value statement on emotional benefits, which is dynamic and aversely affects the decision making factor more so than the tangibles.

Moving on from issues of quality to the even more intangible, 'soft' dimensions of emotional and psychological satisfaction, we move to the domain of human emotion. Today's travelers are looking for four things: a connection with people and places; physical and psychological comfort; a greater choice of guestrooms and amenities; and convenience. Physiological Pleasure is derived from these four "C's" and these "C's" are continually developing a growing significance in the hospitality market. This increased focus on individual satisfaction can be interpreted as an indicator of the need for greater customer input to design and are becoming a greater brand differentiator among similar core product families. Such custom design requirements have important implications for both the design provider and the user.

Owners, operators, and developers who understand the guests changing demands stand the best chance of capturing the lion's share of business in this competitive environment, However the difficulty of remaining ahead of the curve is further affected by the turbulence of the economy and the aggressiveness of the big players. And trying to please each and every segment of our market share is a daunting if at times almost impossible task.

Travelers expect to experience the lifestyle they experience at home while on the road. If they're surrounded by technology at home, those are the gadgets they want in their hotel room. Guests accustomed to the finer things at home, expect that quality if not better in their hotel room. Not too many years ago, hotels provided a luxurious experience that was better than what most travelers had at home. However, today most home bathrooms and bedrooms that are nicer than the traditional hotel bathroom and bedroom. As people become more affluent and sophisticated in their home lifestyle, they want to be equally pampered in their lifestyle on the road. Travelers simply don't want to give up the "creature comforts" they're accustomed to at home and take what they perceive as a step backwards when they check into a hotel. The objective is to get into sync with the rhythm of your guest's life - to give your guests a reason for NOT leaving your hotel, just as they wouldn't want to leave their own house.

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Sales & Marketing: Selling Experiences

There are innumerable strategies that Hotel Sales and Marketing Directors employ to find, engage and entice guests to their property, and those strategies are constantly evolving. A breakthrough technology, pioneering platform, or even a simple algorithm update can cause new trends to emerge and upend the best laid plans. Sales and marketing departments must remain agile so they can adapt to the ever changing digital landscape. As an example, the popularity of virtual reality is on the rise, as 360 interactive technologies become more mainstream. Chatbots and artificial intelligence are also poised to become the next big things, as they take guest personalization to a whole new level. But one sales and marketing trend that is currently resulting in major benefits for hotels is experiential marketing - the effort to deliver an experience to potential guests. Mainly this is accomplished through the creative use of video and images, and by utilizing what has become known as User Generated Content. By sharing actual personal content (videos and pictures) from satisfied guests who have experienced the delights of a property, prospective guests can more easily imagine themselves having the same experience. Similarly, Hotel Generated Content is equally important. Hotels are more than beds and effective video presentations can tell a compelling story - a story about what makes the hotel appealing and unique. A video walk-through of rooms is essential, as are video tours in different areas of a hotel. The goal is to highlight what makes the property exceptional, but also to show real people having real fun - an experience that prospective guests can have too. The June Hotel Business Review will report on some of these issues and strategies, and examine how some sales and marketing professionals are integrating them into their operations.