Emergence of New Trends in Guest Services

By Adrian Kurre Global Head, Homewood Suites & Home2 Suites by Hilton | March 09, 2014

Earlier in my career, I spent some time on the food and beverage side of the hospitality business. A former manager once told me the golden rule of food and beverage: "Serve hot food hot. Serve cold food cold. And do it with a smile."

It is a simple notion that makes a big difference for guests. But its straightforwardness belies a deeper complexity – applicable beyond food and beverage – that we need to continually address across the hospitality industry: delivering on our promises and creating an excellent experience for guests at every step. The reality, as we all know, is the research, the testing, and the partnership with all the stakeholders that create that experience is far from simple.

When it comes to fulfilling our promise to our stakeholders, every hotel brand goes through the usual motions – every few years, we make an upgrade to a property here or there. We switch up the shampoo and conditioner offering; strike a partnership deal with a relevant brand; update our logo. We make incremental changes. The true opportunity is to ensure each change, no matter how small, connects with the entire experience we aim to create for our customers.

Incrementalism is no longer enough. Guests expect more, and rightly so. Their preferences are changing. As choices expand, brand loyalty is more important than ever and harder to win (and keep winning every time).

To meet the moment, hotel brands must think and act for the long term, embracing the complexity and uncertainty of our category.

At Hilton Garden Inn, we've adopted a roadmap, called 'Flourish', that's as much brand strategy as it is a mindset that provides direction and context for everything we do. We use it as a filter to help us make decisions about what's right for guests and to help our general managers, owners, and our entire hotel teams deliver a highly relevant, highly memorable experience and, most importantly, deliver on our promises.

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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.