Perfecting a Customer-Centric Model is the Key to Success for Hotels

First Up: the Social and Digital Media Interface

By Chrissy Denihan Chief Comfort Officer, Affinia Hotels | April 21, 2013

More and more hotels are moving toward a customer-centric model. Increasingly it is less about what we, as hoteliers, think we should provide and more about serving up experiences, service and programs based on our customers' lifestyles, preferences and needs. We are a good example of this movement. While Denihan Hospitality Group, the parent company of Affinia Hotels, has built its foundation on a unique, guest-centric approach for 50 years, my role as Chief Comfort Officer for the Affinia brand was created to take it to the next level.

This article covers customer-centric practices outside your hotel in the social and digital media space.

Operating from a customer-centric place is about engaging with customers in social media and the digital world in a different way. While we know we must be on Facebook, TripAdvisor, Twitter, and even Pinterest and Instagram, it's how we use these tools that is important. The shift today is from promotional content to putting the focus on the customers. What do they like and care about? How do they feel? What are their concerns? How do they read and to what do they respond?

The next set of questions we must all be asking ourselves as hoteliers are: What can I do to cater to what they like and care about? How can I respond in a meaningful way to their feelings and concerns?

The operative word is "engage." We want to engage, not sell. To truly engage we must be mindful of our customers' needs, rather than our own.

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Coming up in June 2019...

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.