Offering Self-Service Options is Key to Hospitality Loyalty
By Pascal Metivier Founder & Chief Executive Officer, OpenWays | February 27, 2011
For years it was assumed that hotel guests wanted staff interaction at the front desk. Today's reality is clearly different. Findings from a recent Harvard Business Review survey on Self-Service (conducted in cooperation with the Corporate Executive Board, a leading research and advisory services company) concludes that businesses need to "stop trying to delight [their] customers." Rather than creating more nuisances (disguised as guest services) that require guests to stop by the front desk, the study shows that "customers want [to take] control over how and when they interact with companies." Anything less, analysts say, can result in "major competitive disadvantages, irreversible brand damage, and a loss of key revenue opportunities."
The 2010 HBR study supports that offering self-service options is a must for hotels to remain competitive. Several branches of the travel industry -- airlines, train/subway/transit, car rental, etc. -- have already embraced this philosophy. Hoteliers, on the other hand, may have dramatically overestimated the extent to which their customers actually want to interact with them.
Based on responses from more than 75,000 B2B and B2C individuals, the HBR study revealed that "self-service is the No. 1 preference for customer service and building loyalty." Therefore a Mobile Key platform (which allows travelers choose between checking themselves in via their mobile phone and bypassing the front desk to go straight to their rooms or standing in line at the front desk to receive personal service) is the ideal solution for hotels targeting today's 'Generation Me' travelers -- a combination of Gen Yers and Gen Xers who grew up with a sense of self.
Providing the ideal customer-service platform to this demographic doesn't mean that they want to do everything on their own all the time. Sometimes their "sense of self" means needing immediate and direct staff interaction to answer a pressing question or resolve an urgent need. Because of this growing "me" mentality, a Mobile Key platform allows travelers to dictate how they want their experience to progress -- noting that it can change several times through the duration of their hotel stay.
Most Generation Me travelers are familiar with self check-in at airports and car rentals, and therefore they may find hotel front-desk check-in tedious and invasive. The option to use their mobile phone as a secure room key is welcomed. Once a traveler is in the room, however, he or she may decide that personal concierge service is warranted for a number of specific needs.
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