Disruption in Hospitality: The Target - Customer Experience Measurement

By Janet Gerhard Partner & CXO, Inquizo | June 12, 2016

The hospitality industry is constantly under attack. New technologies, new entrants, new regulations, and changing customer demands require hoteliers to be relentlessly vigilant. It is not merely a matter of loyalty. Today's fight is about relevance. In a world of digital transformation, no industry is immune. With every discussion on digital transformation orbiting around customer experience, is there an opportunity to disrupt how the hospitality industry measures customer experience?

A week in April with 250 global leaders from a major technology firm gave me new perspective on the uncertainty of digital transformation. The organization is midstream in its own digital transformation while rapidly positioning to enable its customers to embark on a similar journey. The undercurrent of the technology firm's two-day global leaders' event on digital transformation centered on the changing needs of its customers and the value it delivers through experiences --- a focus that is undoubtedly critical for today's hospitality companies.

Mobile check-in, wearables, artificial intelligence and predictive analytics are indicative of the digital transformation underway in the hospitality industry. EY, Accenture, and many others want to advise you on how to re-engineer the experience to better serve your customers. In truth, the digital transformation agenda is all about avoiding "digital Darwinism," a term that is often cited by Brian Solis, principal analyst at Altimeter Group. The hotel industry is being disrupted, and improving the customer experience isn't simply about loyalty; it is about survival.

In its recent report, The Six Stages of Digital Transformation, Altimeter's findings are not dissimilar to numerous other recent articles and white papers on the topic:

"Technology has empowered consumers to become more mobile, social, and connected than ever. This has changed how they interact with each other and with products, services and businesses. Digital transformation is your organization's internal equivalent of external consumer evolution. It opens the door to new opportunities for innovation in how to design, integrate, and manage customer (and employee) experiences."

Every discussion on digital transformation orbits around customer experience. My passion and work over the last 20 years has been on changing behavior – driving customer loyalty and improving employee engagement. I believe an argument can be made that digital transformation is applicable to how we measure customer experience. The question is where will this disruption come from? The sources I'll explore in this article are the hotel brands, their vendors and a few existing technologies that if applied in new ways could be disruptive.

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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.