Enhancing Guest Experience with a Methodology Based, Service Oriented Approach

By Michael Waddell Managing Director, INTEGRITYOne Partners | September 02, 2010

The emergence of Service Oriented Architecture (SOA) has changed traditional thinking when it comes to envisioning, designing, and building information technology (IT) systems in the modern hospitality enterprise. SOA brings a renewed emphasis on improving leverage of IT investments through reuse while simultaneously allowing unprecedented amounts of business flexibility.

Hospitality business processes are typically replete with similar actions and activities that are used in many functions, sometimes crossing the boundaries of quite different parts of the business. Being able to use this reality to create competitive advantage can go a long way toward ensuring success in this competitive industry.

It's Not Just About the Technology Anymore

Even with the best technology available at guest servicing locations, enhancements to guest experience are not likely to occur unless the technology is combined with necessary adjustments to business processes. In some cases these are very minor adjustments to the way guests are serviced on property, and in other situations there are more complex changes that may need to occur. Either way, any changes that must occur can be managed through application of a comprehensive guest experience enhancement methodology.

There are two significant goals that must be achieved through the methodology. The first is the comprehensive analysis of possible guest experience touch points and the probability of capturing meaningful guest experience information at each touch point. Second, the business must define a suitable topology of guest experience events, generic enough to be leveraged across multiple brands and multiple properties yet extensible enough to accommodate the need of individual properties.

An extended event might include more detailed elements that capture specifics that may be only meaningful for the property at which the event occurred.

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Social Media: Getting Personal

There Social media platforms have revolutionized the hotel industry. Popular sites such as Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, Snapchat, YouTube and Tumblr now account for 2.3 billion active users, and this phenomenon has forever transformed how businesses interact with consumers. Given that social media allows for two-way communication between businesses and consumers, the emphasis of any marketing strategy must be to positively and personally engage the customer, and there are innumerable ways to accomplish that goal. One popular strategy is to encourage hotel guests to create their own personal content - typically videos and photos -which can be shared via their personal social media networks, reaching a sizeable audience. In addition, geo-locational tags and brand hashtags can be embedded in such posts which allow them to be found via metadata searches, substantially enlarging their scope. Influencer marketing is another prevalent social media strategy. Some hotels are paying popular social media stars and bloggers to endorse their brand on social media platforms. These kinds of endorsements generally elicit a strong response because the influencers are perceived as being trustworthy by their followers, and because an influencer's followers are likely to share similar psychographic and demographic traits. Travel review sites have also become vitally important in reputation management. Travelers consistently use social media to express pleasure or frustration about their guest experiences, so it is essential that every review be attended to personally. Assuming the responsibility to address and correct customer service concerns quickly is a way to mitigate complaints and to build brand loyalty. Plus, whether reviews are favorable or unfavorable, they are a vital source of information to managers about a hotel's operational performance.  The February Hotel Business Review will document what some hotels are doing to effectively incorporate social media strategies into their businesses.