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Mr. Baudart

Sales & Marketing

How AccorHotels Uses Data to Enhance the Customer Journey

By Emanuel Baudart, Global Chief Customer Officer, Accor Hotels

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.

In this new and continually developing environment, hoteliers must ensure that they are able to provide a service that matches their customers' expectations whatever the motivation was for choosing a property in the first place. What is true in other industries also applies to hospitality: properly managing customer feedback is now vital to success.

What Accorhotels is Doing

Creating a positive relationship between hotelier and customer is increasingly important. Get it wrong, and you may have lost a customer forever. Get it right and you have a brand ambassador. At AccorHotels, our most active loyalty members continue to stay with us and are responsible for almost 30 percent of our revenue. So how do we expand those avid AccorHotels customers?

The brand loyalty we have with those guests goes well beyond a warm welcome at the front desk, a smooth ride in the elevator or an email marketing campaign. Indeed, satisfaction and relationships develop together. With more than 4,100 hotels, resorts and residences, over 3,000 of the finest private homes in 95 countries around the globe, AccorHotels has varied experiences to offer all different types of guests and even more ways to connect with that guest.

At its foundation, achieving this goal has been all about developing and maintaining a coherent and consistent approach to all touch points of the customer journey. From our hotels, which range from budget to top-of-the-line luxury, to call centers fielding reservations and requests, to mobile apps and social networks, AccorHotels has recognized the need to ensure that our on-property relationship with clients is on-target with the predilections they express in their online profiles.

Our conviction is that the more we get to know our clients, the better their guest experience will be. From this better experience comes greater loyalty, which is key to a positive customer relationship. Today, even the most generous hotel loyalty program isn't enough to secure devotion, repeat business, and recommendations to their friends and colleagues. Rather, loyalty is exclusively the result of an authentically personalized experience.

As part of our focus on our customers, we researched all the ways one traveler might experience AccorHotels, with a family, on a business trip, or on a romantic getaway. We have the brands to service those needs but we still need the data on how to help and interact with the guest in those settings.

Part of this research is looking at all of our customer data to analyze for patterns and trends. This is at the core of the company's current customer relationship management strategy. It enables us to optimize our customers' experiences and reinvent the welcoming spirit that draws guests to us in the first place - and keeps them coming back for more.

Capitalizing on Data and Opportunities

As mentioned at length, digital is one of the most valuable entry points into the customer relationship - one that builds authenticity and loyalty. Therefore, we've created an overarching Digital Plan to have guests thinking about AccorHotels even when they aren't traveling. Our Customer Centric program is just one part of our overarching Digital Plan.

The program aims to develop and leverage databases with a view toward improving customer services and follow up. We have three initiatives which are central to the Customer Centric program:

  • An AccorHotels Customer Digital Card (ACDC) is maintained for each customer within our rapidly growing database. The card is integrated into the property management system at all of our hotels and resorts with information on individual preferences, customer care (should a guest ever be motivated to make a claim), and even interactions undertaken on social networks during their stay with us. The objective of ACDC is to enable hotels to address the expectations of each customer with an eye toward recognition and personalization, two key elements that magnify the experience that AccorHotels provides and secure loyalty in a booming industry. ACDC is currently in pilot in 90 of our hotels.

  • Voice of the Guest (VOG) is a program of AccorHotels Customer Experience Management (CEM) that proposes a one-stop platform powered by TrustYou which compiles, organizes and analyzes all types of customer comments (praise, complaints, observations, advice), on any channel (customer satisfaction surveys, call centers, as well as opinions and imagery expressed on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and elsewhere across the Internet), and in any format (surveys, comments, photography, video, et cetera) to improve the guest experience that we provide. Not only does VOG provide vital feedback, it enables us to interact directly with customers who post opinions online - with the conversation available for all to see - and to manage our online reputation. Beyond customer feedback, VOG also enables us to reply to customers in a timely manner when they expect it (such as upon completion of a satisfaction survey), as well as when they don't (to their comments on the Internet, for instance). We are also able to use the VOG platform to encourage more customers to share their feedback, making them part of the process.

  • Local Measure is an innovative location-based customer intelligence platform used by AccorHotels to aggregate all of the content posted about our individual hotel and resort properties on the Internet in real time. The resulting insights into their customers offer hotel operators the opportunity to interact immediately with clientele and offer personalized services to take individual guest experiences over the top. If that weren't enough, Local Measure, which was introduced in July 2016, makes it possible for hotels to use the visual content shared by customers on social networks to reinforce engagement on the AccorHotels.com distribution platform as well as on the Group's brand sites and social media accounts.

The results of Local Measure have been fantastic. We have new and authentic sources of inspiration for enhancing the guest experience of future stays. Through this too, we've reached millions of guests on average monthly with about a third of those guests being repeat guests. These influencers also help to expand the hotels' reach to a wider audience. From an efficiency standpoint, we've been able to respond to guest four times faster than before Local Measure. This program has been absolutely necessary to gain customer insight and rapidly build a better relationship with the guest.

Le Club and Opportunities

Our loyalty program, Le Club AccorHotels, continues to impress. At present, we count over 32 million Le Club AccorHotels members and an average growth rate of 7 million members each year. When added to the membership of loyalty programs of newly acquired brands, including the 4 million members of the Fairmont President's Club of and Raffles Ambassadors and Raffles Premier programs, as well as the 70 million members of the Huazhu Rewards program, AccorHotels now counts more than 100 million loyalty members all together.

While Le Club AccorHotels remains a central element of recognition for customers, it is no longer the central element of loyalty itself. Step by step, the program is evolving from reward to recognition, with more exclusive offers and tailor-made experiences available year-round. The rewards are quite enticing, indeed. For instance: Elite Experiences, such as VIP tickets for guests, their family and friends to major sporting, concert and cultural events around the world; Dream Stays at our premium properties with enticements and extras included; and premium merchandise from AccorHotels e-boutiques La Collection and Collections, offering members even more ways to earn and spend points beyond hotel services.

As we've bolstered our customer engagement through big data and social media, we are focusing on the service that the guest has always wanted. The medium is different today than it was twenty years ago but the change is welcome. The guest still wants breakfast in bed but the way they are ordering it and sharing it has changed. From our perspective, the new medium provides an opportunity to make it better for the next guest and specifically for that guest in the future.

Emanuel Baudart, Chief Customer Officer for AccorHotels. He has 15 years professional experience in key positions in Marketing, Sales, e-commerce, Loyalty programs, CRM and Distribution, in an international Hospitality and Services Group. He is experienced in international leadership positions and cross-functional management projects. Mr. Baudart started his AccorHotels career in charge of roll-out programs for the Central Reservation System and revenue management for worldwide operational units. Since November 2014, Mr. Baudart has been the Chief Customer Officer at the AccorHotels Headquarters in Paris. In this position, he is responsible for the Customer Centric transformation of the group for 4,100 hotels and 240,000 employees. Mr. Baudart can be contacted at 33-1-453-886-00 or emanuel.baudart@accor.com Please visit http://www.accor.com for more information. Extended Bio...

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