How AccorHotels Uses Data to Enhance the Customer Journey

By Emanuel Baudart Global Chief Customer Officer, Accor Hotels | June 25, 2017

A guest's social media is an opportunity for hotels to work better and more efficiently to target and enhance the guest experience. Coupling the data that guests give through social media with the data we have from years of growing AccorHotels, we are focusing on using the right tools to best access the guest. At AccorHotels, we are moving away from the transactional model of hospitality and focusing on building relationships through social engagement and bolstering the benefits of our loyalty program. In order to do both, we've invested in building better tools for our hotels to succeed on the promise of hospitality - great service, attention and comfort.

Where We Are Today

Undoubtedly, the hotel and resort industry was built around customer satisfaction and experience. A lot of hoteliers have gotten lost in the battle of direct bookings and racing to fill every room in the hotel. But no traveler books a cozy guest room, a transformative spa treatment, or a colorful signature cocktail created from local ingredients unless they believe they're going to be pleased. If an hotelier can't fulfill their customers' desires the first time around, they likely won't get a second chance.

Historically, hoteliers focused on purely transactional relationships with their guests. The product took precedence over the client, and the selling of a room was more important than creating an experience. Now that transactional model has shifted to a relational model in which customers want to be recognized and catered to, their desires anticipated and fulfilled, and their patronage duly rewarded.

Customer Relationships in the Digital Age

Digital technology has intensified customer relationships for better and for worse. Everything has a call to action whether it be instructions to 'download the app' or 'text to book.' Today's consumers are more widely connected to the businesses they patronize - and to each other - than ever before. With the tap of a keypad, guests can share their experiences and opinions - in retrospect and in real time - with a constantly growing audience across the Internet and social media. As a result, like the digital landscape itself, the possibilities for hoteliers to create and nurture those relationships are endless.

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Coming up in March 2019...

Human Resources: An Era of Transition

Traditionally, the human resource department administers five key areas within a hotel operation - compliance, compensation and benefits, organizational dynamics, selection and retention, and training and development. However, HR professionals are also presently involved in culture-building activities, as well as implementing new employee on-boarding practices and engagement initiatives. As a result, HR professionals have been elevated to senior leadership status, creating value and profit within their organization. Still, they continue to face some intractable issues, including a shrinking talent pool and the need to recruit top-notch employees who are empowered to provide outstanding customer service. In order to attract top-tier talent, one option is to take advantage of recruitment opportunities offered through colleges and universities, especially if they have a hospitality major. This pool of prospective employees is likely to be better educated and more enthusiastic than walk-in hires. Also, once hired, there could be additional training and development opportunities that stem from an association with a college or university. Continuing education courses, business conferences, seminars and online instruction - all can be a valuable source of employee development opportunities. In addition to meeting recruitment demands in the present, HR professionals must also be forward-thinking, anticipating the skills that will be needed in the future to meet guest expectations. One such skill that is becoming increasingly valued is “resilience”, the ability to “go with the flow” and not become overwhelmed by the disruptive influences  of change and reinvention. In an era of transition—new technologies, expanding markets, consolidation of brands and businesses, and modifications in people's values and lifestyles - the capacity to remain flexible, nimble and resilient is a valuable skill to possess. The March Hotel Business Review will examine some of the strategies that HR professionals are employing to ensure that their hotel operations continue to thrive.