Journeys That Shape Customer Experience

By Benjamin Jost Co-Founder & CEO, TrustYou | November 13, 2016

As a whole, the travel industry has been clawing its way forward to improve customer experiences. Many hotels have experimented with implementing various digital platforms and adding personalized factors to their communication systems to facilitate these improvements.

Taking a step back, however, we need to first understand "customer experience" before we can address challenges therein. Throwing technology at the problem may seem like a simple solution, but instead, it's only adding complexity and muddying the waters when it comes to creating clear, and obvious paths to improvement.

According to the "How-To Guide: Customer Journey Management" report released by Ovum, customer experience is not a solitary concept but a holistic idea that includes a series of journeys a customer takes to create an overall experience. Generally, a guest journey consists of about four to five stages and each step plays a critical part in forming customers' relationships with businesses. As such, the idea of improving "customer experience" needs to be broken up accordingly, and hotels should focus on each journey in order to create meaningful changes that improve guest satisfaction and impact the bottom line.

While "throwing technology at the problem" is the wrong approach, making strategic decisions to implement certain technologies can easily identify room for growth and expedite improved guest experiences. Think about the number of technological touch points a guest has when booking a hotel. Guests often conduct extensive online research about hotel options and communicate with various sources before making a decision. Then, having decided where they want to stay, they make reservations through online platforms where they make further interactions with different companies.

In order to understand and improve each step of the guest journey, hotels must understand how customers utilize different platforms to communicate. By recognizing the common journeys and behavioral patterns most customers take, businesses can invest in the right technologies and in turn, improve the overall customer experience. Here are the three main journeys a guest typically takes and adjustments that can be made in each stage:

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The hotel industry has undertaken a long-term effort to build more responsible and socially conscious businesses. What began with small efforts to reduce waste - such as paperless checkouts and refillable soap dispensers - has evolved into an international movement toward implementing sustainable development practices. In addition to establishing themselves as good corporate citizens, adopting eco-friendly practices is sound business for hotels. According to a recent report from Deloitte, 95% of business travelers believe the hotel industry should be undertaking “green” initiatives, and Millennials are twice as likely to support brands with strong management of environmental and social issues. Given these conclusions, hotels are continuing to innovate in the areas of environmental sustainability. For example, one leading hotel chain has designed special elevators that collect kinetic energy from the moving lift and in the process, they have reduced their energy consumption by 50%  over conventional elevators. Also, they installed an advanced air conditioning system which employs a magnetic mechanical system that makes them more energy efficient. Other hotels are installing Intelligent Building Systems which monitor and control temperatures in rooms, common areas and swimming pools, as well as ventilation and cold water systems. Some hotels are installing Electric Vehicle charging stations, planting rooftop gardens, implementing stringent recycling programs, and insisting on the use of biodegradable materials. Another trend is the creation of Green Teams within a hotel's operation that are tasked to implement earth-friendly practices and manage budgets for green projects. Some hotels have even gone so far as to curtail or eliminate room service, believing that keeping the kitchen open 24/7 isn't terribly sustainable. The May issue of the Hotel Business Review will document what some hotels are doing to integrate sustainable practices into their operations and how they are benefiting from them.