Editor's Blog

Personalisation is the key to the future
Mon 10 Jun, 2019 at 12:00 am

I don’t like chatbots, whether they are verbal or textual in their interface with me. I accept that they cut down personnel costs and streamline human resources requirements when chatbots operate on FAQ mode to interface with clients or guests. However, what I find missing is the human exchange or emotional interaction with another live person.

A recent study by Amadeus and InterContinental Hotels reveals that I am not alone. People are seeking bespoke room amenities, and room pricing to be determined accordingly. So no more standard single, double or twin, deluxe or superior rooms with standard amenities.

Please replace the working desk for a yoga mat, coffeemaker with a juice maker, allow streaming of my chosen entertainment through the room’s AV system. Sounds simple enough…..

Standard inclusions assume that a majority of the guests need those amenities. Now the guest is telling them a different tale: I need a garden view or a sea view or a pool view; I need a room near the elevator, not one that is miles away; I need a shower that is not in a bath tub – in fact I don’t need the tub at all……

This is the definitive voice of the new-age customer. They are looking for personalisation.

Although digi-savvy, the human interface is imperative: I don’t want entertainment or dining options within the vicinity of my hotel listed on an i-Pad in my room; I want to speak with the concierge and discuss options and preferences; are the four blocks that I will walk away from my hotel to the restaurant or bar safe for ladies to walk alone?

Standard room types with fixed inclusions are coming to an end, according to key findings published in the Drivers of Change in Hospitality report. Hotel accommodation, which has traditionally been bought in a standard and uniform way, will need to adapt to travellers’ growing bespoke leanings.

According to the study, 61 per cent of global travellers state a preference for hotels to be priced in a way that allows them to add on bespoke options. We can expect to see the emergence of attribute-based booking, where guests pick and choose the individual components of their room, marking the end of traditional room types.

In the competition for guest loyalty, hospitality providers need to identify how to offer value through delivering memorable, shareable experiences. To do this, hotels must understand individual guest needs on each trip, and offer a host of unique and unexpected surprises. In fact, 70 per cent of global travellers would like hotels to provide more advice and tips about unique things to do, with only 20 per cent saying they currently get ideas from the hotel. What does that go to show? Speak to your guests, communicate with them, to understand exactly what they want. Times, they are a-changing.

Hospitality providers will need to serve guests in a significantly more connected way, striking the right balance between automated solutions and human interaction.

The study details how technology will be used to empower staff to deliver unprecedented levels of service at scale. It suggests that technology needs to support human interaction, not replace it, as the majority of guests (about 67 per cent) say they prefer to liaise with a person for the emotional interaction. For example, the deployment of real-time translation earphones and smart glasses could ensure that concierges easily interact with guests in their native tongue.

Chris K Anderson, director of the Center for Hospitality Research, Cornell University, remarked: “The hospitality industry is on the cusp of a new chapter. Guests are seeking richer individual relationships and seamless experiences with their hospitality providers, and are willing to share more data and insights than ever before.”

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