Guest Experience - Moving from Transactional to Experiential

By Bob Megazzini Area General Manager, Sage Hospitality | April 08, 2018

In most of the service industry today, we live in a sea of sameness - from airlines to car rental companies to hotels. We encounter numerous people at various touchpoints that are there with a smile (or not) to take our boarding passes, credit card or confirmation to "Process the transaction" and move us on our way to the next transaction. Most travelers are not getting a sense of appreciation for their business and the experience is not memorable. Service associates in various businesses need to move you through to get to the next transaction. It is the nature of the beast and it's happening every day all over the globe.

 So what can we do as hospitality service professions to change the landscape?

I have had success over the years in making each transaction an experience by connecting with each customer to show genuine care and concern for what they are experiencing. Striving to create a place people want to go to - not just through - is a great way to think about how to transition from the transaction to the experience of service.

 It is important to change the way we interact with our guests and to create unique new hotel experiences. Some examples that have worked well at my hotels include:

Wine Tastings

We partner with our Food & Beverage experts and vendors to offer complimentary wine tastings in the lobby. This provides great one-on-one time to get to know our guests and build a connection while sharing the winemaker's history. It is important to make sure the staff members running the tasting are well versed on the region where the wine is produced and the winemaker's family story. In many instances, the guest likes the wine so much they go to the lounge to buy a glass. Lastly, many of us have had made a strong connection over a glass of wine, so this is an easy place to start.

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Coming up in January 2019...

Mobile Technology: The Future is Now

Mobile Technology continues to advance at a relentless pace and the hotel industry continues to adapt. Hotel guests have shown a strong preference for mobile self-service - from checking-in/out at a hotel kiosk, to ordering room service, making dinner reservations, booking spa treatments, and managing laundry/dry cleaning services. And they also enjoy the convenience of paying for these services with smart phone mobile payments. In addition, some hotels have adopted a “concierge in your pocket” concept. Through a proprietary hotel app, guests can access useful information such as local entertainment venues, tourist attractions, event calendars, and medical facilities and services. In-room entertainment continues to be a key factor, as guests insist on the capacity to plug in their own mobile devices to customize their entertainment choices. Mobile technology also allows for greater marketing opportunities. For example, many hotels have adopted the use of “push notifications” - sending promotions, discounts and special event messages to guests based on their property location, purchase history, profiles, etc. Near field communication (NFC) technology is also being utilized to support applications such as opening room doors, earning loyalty points, renting a bike, accessing a rental car, and more. Finally, some hotels have adopted more futuristic technology. Robots are in use that have the ability to move between floors to deliver room service requests for all kinds of items - food, beverages, towels, toothbrushes, chargers and snacks. And infrared scanners are being used by housekeeping staff that can detect body heat within a room, alerting staff that the room is occupied and they should come back at a later time. The January Hotel Business Review will report on what some hotels are doing to maximize their opportunities in this exciting mobile technology space.