Qualitative Research: Analyzing the Hotel Reservations Process

By Johnna Freud Qualitative Research Moderator, Saul Cohen & Associates | May 19, 2010

Of course, a person can still call a hotel or a travel agent, but now he can also conduct research and make reservations via the Internet. Here is where the choices become whelming.

So, when do consumers make reservations online? When do they call a travel agent? When do they call you or central reservation numbers or properties directly?

And, when they consult the Internet, are they reserving directly through the hotel chains' or properties' websites or are they surfing the Web for third-party sites, many of whom provide reduced rate accommodations? What factors impact this decision-making process?

Qualitative marketing research can provide an in-depth understanding into how consumers perceive the various reservation methods available to them. Focus groups and in-depth interviews can explore the motivating factors that influence their decisions about which method to use.

For example, how do pop-up advertisements and emails from third-party vendors influence consumers when they are making travel plans? This is important information, not only for establishments that cater more to budget-conscious travelers, but also for full-service hotels with excess inventory to fill.

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Coming up in April 2019...

Guest Service: A Culture of YES

In a recent global consumers report, 97% of the participants said that customer service is a major factor in their loyalty to a brand, and 76% said they view customer service as the true test of how much a company values them. And since there is no industry more reliant on customer satisfaction than the hotel industry, managers must be unrelenting in their determination to hire, train and empower the very best people, and to create a culture of exceptional customer service within their organization. Of course, this begins with hiring the right people. There are people who are naturally service-oriented; people who are warm, empathetic, enthusiastic, pleasant, thoughtful and optimistic; people who take pride in their ability to solve problems for the hotel guests they are serving. Then, those same employees must be empowered to solve problems using their own judgment, without having to track down a manager to do it. This is how seamless problem solving and conflict resolution are achieved in guest service. This willingness to empower employees is part of creating a Culture of Yes within an organization.  The goal is to create an environment in which everyone is striving to say “Yes”, rather than figuring out ways to say, “No”. It is essential that this attitude be instilled in all frontline, customer-facing, employees. Finally, in order to ensure that the hotel can generate a consistent level of performance across a wide variety of situations, management must also put in place well-defined systems and standards, and then educate their employees about them. Every employee must be aware of and responsible for every standard that applies in their department. The April issue of the Hotel Business Review will document what some leading hotels are doing to cultivate and manage guest satisfaction in their operations.