Know Who Your Guest Isn't

By Andrew Freeman President, Andrew Freeman & Company | November 23, 2014

Co-authored by Candace MacDonald, Marketing & Concept Consultant, Andrew Freeman & Co.

Demographics are dead. Well, actually, demographics as most people know them are irrelevant, which in hospitality is really the same thing as dead. Are you asking yourself "How do we reach millenials?" or "How can we appeal to boomers?" If so, you are asking the wrong questions. What year someone is born will not determine if they stay at your hotel or dine at your restaurant. We are in the age of hyper-personalization - you can even get your name on a can of coke! It is more essential than ever that brands are able to deeply connect with guests, to build "personal" relationships and to create loyalty. This is no small task, but the good news is that the information necessary to build this kind of connection is more accessible than ever before.

Bring the Voice of the Guest to the Table

"Big data" is all the rage and more and more research and consumer insights companies are offering their products to operators of all sizes and budgets. There is a wealth of information available about people. All of this information can lead to a much deeper understanding of our guests, their needs, what motivates them and how we can best reach them. We are able to dig beyond superficial demographics and into the psychographics of guests. The emerging field of neuro-marketing is enabling an understanding of the subconscious. (Want to know if your ad makes someone's heart race?) All of these tools allow us to build vibrant and detailed guest profiles. Marketers are now in the position to truly bring the voice of the guest to the discussion. We can tell the most impactful story and can help our operations teams to adjust the concept to better meet the needs of the guests we want.

With all of this information, deciding who our guest is and even more importantly, who our guest isn't, is critically important. Avoiding this decision is actually making the choice to spread valuable resources too widely. There are several missteps that hospitality marketers often unknowingly make in this process.

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Eco-Friendly Practices: Corporate Social Responsibility

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.