April - Guest Service: The Personalized Experience
In the not-too-distant future, when guests arrive at a hotel, they will check themselves in using a kiosk in the lobby, by- passing a stop at the front desk. When they call room service to order food, it will be from a hotel mobile tablet, practically eliminating any contact with friendly service people. Though these inevitable developments will likely result in delivered to their door by a robot. When they visit a restaurant, their orders will be placed and the bill will be paid some staff reduction, there is a silver lining – all the remaining hotel staff can be laser-focused on providing guests with the best possible service available. And for most guests, that means being the beneficiary of a personalized experience from the hotel. According to a recent Yahoo survey, 78 percent of hotel guests expressed a desire for some kind of personalization. They are seeking services that not only make them feel welcomed, but valued, and cause them to feel good about themselves. Hotels must strive to establish an emotional bond with their guests, the kind of bond that creates guest loyalty and brings them back time and again. But providing personalized service is more than knowing your guests by name. It’s leaving a bottle of wine in the room of a couple celebrating their anniversary, or knowing which guest enjoys having a fresh cup of coffee brought to their room as part of a wake-up call. It’s the small, thoughtful, personal gestures that matter most and produce the greatest effect. The April issue of the Hotel Business Review will document what some leading hotels are doing to cultivate and manage guest satisfaction in their operations. Need to subscribe? Click here!
Yvonne Tocguigny

As personalized hotel services are replaced with technology, it’s important to understand and monitor how your brand stacks up in the “blind taste test” of options available to customers. A comparison of the sum of all things customers experience adds up to create your brand’s individual rating. These individual brand scorecards will continue to have profound future implications for your business. It could become even harder to address customers’ problems or in-the-moment frustrations because there may not be a human present to notice them. READ MORE

Nancy Wiesenfeld

The hospitality industry is in a constant state of evolution. As new players enter the landscape, from properties to boutique hotels to online peer-to-peer marketplaces, hospitality brands continuously look for creative ways to win guests by competing on price, amenities, loyalty program benefits and other perks. With so many options to consider, it is becoming increasingly important to stay relevant with the consumer at each point of their brand journey in order to promote conversion and foster loyalty. The latest platform for differentiation is in delivering the best customer experience. READ MORE

Alexander Shashou

Many concierges we speak with today fear technology is putting them out of a job. The reality is the right technology will actually safeguard their profession and place them at the center of the guest experience, because guests want and will always want convenient, personalized service. The reason the concierge role is undervalued today is because of the gap in technology between what consumers have on their phones and what concierges use at their desks. The right technology, in contrast, lets concierges provide guests with mobile first communication, personalized, curated hospitality and flawless guest itinerary orchestration. READ MORE

Melissa Fruend

Technological innovation is transforming business and our lives. And the travel and hospitality industry is on the front lines, looking for ways to deliver meaningful experiences to guests even as their interactions with staff continue to diminish. According to LoyaltyOne Consulting Partner Melissa Fruend, the key to long-term success for hoteliers is personalization – understanding what make great customer experiences, while leveraging new technologies to adapt services and interactions to guests' changing needs and expectations. In this thought-provoking piece, Melissa explores how some of the world's leading hospitality brands are making the most of technology to drive enduring loyalty and profitability. READ MORE

Doug Kennedy

When I started my first hotel training company as a 20 something entrepreneur in 1989, many hoteliers were already anticipating that automation would soon take over most of the frontline jobs in the hotel industry. My original concept was to train the frontline colleagues who worked at the front desk, in reservations or PBX. When I reached to some of the brightest minds in the business for advice on my business plan, most told me these jobs would be the first to go, as even back then airlines were starting to push callers to automated phone systems to “press 1 for flight status,” and to print their boarding pass at a kiosk. READ MORE

Mike Benjamin

Hotel data can be messy and confusing. Traditionally, capturing and utilizing hotel guest data for a personalized experience has been a challenging process for hoteliers. Reservations arrive in the property management system (PMS) from a variety of sources with varying degrees of completeness and quality. This info may not always be reliable which can lead to service liabilities. It is easy for this data to get disorganized, such as duplicate profiles, and often times many hoteliers have more data than they know what to do with. This can be tremendously frustrating, especially in an industry that sees high turnover and long training cycles. READ MORE

Jana Love

If you are in hospitality, you already understand the value of what The Ritz-Carlton calls, “surprise and delight,” and other companies call, “the wow factor.” Countless hours of training have been delivered explaining that “wowing” a customer is about exceeding expectations in small and large ways. But what is often overlooked as companies push harder and harder to get to the “wow” are two fundamentals: hiring and supporting employees who have what I call “optimal service awareness,” and truly understanding their customers collectively and individually. If we focus here first, all our other efforts will more naturally fall into place. READ MORE

Naomi Stark

Inspired! Refreshed! Rejuvenated! That is exactly how I felt after a recent stay at the Grand Hotel, Point Clear, Resort and Spa. This incredible property has been around since 1847. It has an exquisite history, full of tradition, elegance, and grace. It is truly an experience to stay here. What I experienced has been part of family traditions for weddings, anniversaries, and other special occasions and memories for over 150 years! READ MORE

Shayne Paddock

In the past year I’ve traveled to New York City on several business trips usually staying at the same hotel every time. I did that in part to learn how the hotel would interact with me on each repeat stay. Would they treat me differently? Would they recognize me on my fourth stay? Would they remember my name? Each time the reservation staff warmly greeted me but always asked “Have you stayed with us before”. Upon arriving in my room there would always be a hand written letter from the GM welcoming me to the hotel. READ MORE

Adrian Kurre

Today’s hotel guests have embraced the convenience of mobile and digital technology that facilitates everything from booking specific rooms online to checking in and using Digital Key on their smartphones. This proliferation of technology combined with excellent hospitality ensures that guests’ needs continue to be met or exceeded. At the end of the day, like we say at Hilton, we are a business of people serving people. The key is to offer guests the technological innovations they want – and some they haven’t even imagined yet – while utilizing these advances to automate basic transactions. This process allows our Team Members to focus more time on delivering exceptional experiences at every hotel to every guest. READ MORE

Robert  Habeeb

There are growing numbers of quasi-service hotels that are carving out a new niche between select-service and full-service properties. Select-service hotels have been a hot hotel industry segment for several years now. From new concepts to new developments, it has established itself as a clear front-runner in the hotel category horse race. That being said, a recent uptick in full service hotel development clearly shows that segment remains vibrant, as well. READ MORE

Gary Isenberg

By now, nearly every type of traveler prepping for a journey scans TripAdvisor for reviews of hotels in their destination city prior to securing a reservation. By perusing prior guest comments, consumers receive unfiltered and unbiased perceptions of specific properties. Travelers want to know before they book for instance if: Are the rooms clean? Is the service top-notch? Most importantly, does a hotel deliver value for the price? READ MORE

Scott Hale

Home sweet home. Your dog recognizes the sound of your car pulling in the drive and waits anxiously for you at the front door. Your thermostat knows the temperature that you expect the kitchen to be as you prepare dinner. Your stereo knows what playlist works best with tonight’s recipe. Your television has your preferred programming all cued up when you’re done with your meal. The list goes on. Home sweet home. What if you could make your guests’ next experience at your hotel just like home – but better? You can. READ MORE

Tom O'Rourke

Mobile devices are not only important when planning trips, they are indispensable to guests when they are on the actual trip. According to the Expedia and Egencia Mobile Index published last year, travelers rank their smartphones as their top priority when on the go. Mobile devices are so important that survey respondents ranked them higher than a toothbrush or a driver’s license. The mobile experience extends beyond the point of booking the room—it’s now an integral part of the journey. READ MORE

Adele Gutman

Before the first shovel was in the ground, we knew Aria Hotel Budapest would be an extraordinary hotel. For the Library Hotel Collection and our founder, Henry Kallan, creating a hotel that is beyond ordinary is everything. We think about each detail of the design and experience to create wow factors for our guests. These elements generate rave reviews, and rave reviews are the cornerstone of our marketing program. This is how we became the #1 Hotel in the World in the TripAdvisor Travelers’ Choice Awards. READ MORE

Megan Wenzl

A personalized guest experience is important in today’s hospitality industry. Guests can voice their opinion about a hotel in seconds because of the Internet, and their feedback is contained in sources like social media sites and online reviews. Potential guests read this information when they are looking for where to stay on their next summer vacation. Guests will post online reviews about their experiences. According to research by ReviewTrackers, 45 percent of hotel guests are likely to leave to a review after a negative experience, while 37.6 percent of hotel guests are likely to leave a review after a positive experience READ MORE

Bill Lally

Green initiatives have become widespread across the hospitality market, often denoted from a sign that kindly asks guests to reuse your towels or use less water. These are small steps that hotels can take, but new technologies are making large-scale sustainability programs possible. This next wave is about more than material conservation; now the whole building is starting to get smarter through design, automation systems, sensor technologies and a fully integrated guest experience. One of the first aspects that hotels consider when going green is the materials for the décor as part of the branding and custom experience. READ MORE

Tara Hammond

The United Nations designated 2017 as the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development to support a change in policies, business practices and consumer behavior towards a more sustainable tourism sector. But how will those of us whose purpose it is to innovate and drive change in corporate social responsibility affect change among consumer behavior? It is not enough to just implement policies and practices. Communicating our actions to guests is the key to inspiring change in everyday behaviors. The United Nations designation provides a platform to communicate the great programs and initiatives happening all over the world, especially within sustainable sourcing. READ MORE

Wendi Gelfound

Steeped in myth and legend, the ancient springs at Ojo Caliente Mineral Springs Resort & Spa, 60 miles north of Santa Fe in Ojo Caliente, New Mexico, have been a gathering place and source of healing for thousands of years. The use of the waters can be traced back to the earliest human migrations in the region, when ancestors of today’s Tewa tribes built large pueblos and terraced gardens overlooking the springs. Now, ruins of these ancient cities are marked by the shadows of walls and a sprinkling of potsherds. READ MORE

Deborah Popely

Water scarcity has been identified as among the top five global business risks in the next ten years. Tourism is recognized as a high water-use industry and hotels are some of the most water-intensive operations in the industry. Water scarcity disproportionately affects hotels since some of the most popular tourism destinations are in water-stressed areas, driving up utility costs and creating other challenges. For this reason and other reasons, reducing dependency on fresh water and making the best use of existing supplies makes good business sense. This article explains how hotels can respond to the looming water crisis by incorporating some low-cost best practices and strategies that have proven to save money and generate a return on investment. READ MORE

Coming Up In The June Online Hotel Business Review




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Feature Focus
Sales & Marketing: Who Owns the Guest?
Hotels and OTAs are, by necessity, joined at the hip and locked in a symbiotic relationship that is uneasy at best. Hotels require the marketing presence that OTAs offer and of course, OTAs guest’s email when it sends guest information to a hotel, effectively allowing OTAs to maintain “ownership” of the guest. Without ready access to guest need hotel product to offer their online customers. But recently, several OTAs have decided to no longer share a data, hotels are severely constrained from marketing directly to a guest which allows them to capture repeat business – the lowest cost and highest value travelers. Hotels also require this data to effectively market to previous guests, so ownership of this data will be a significant factor as hotels and OTAs move forward. Another issue is the increasing shift to mobile travel bookings. Mobile will account for more than half of all online travel bookings next year, and 78.6% of them will use their smartphone to make those reservations. As a result, hotels must have a robust mobile marketing plan in place, which means responsive design, one-click booking, and location technology. Another important mobile marketing element is a “Click-to-Call” feature. According to a recent Google survey, 68% of hotel guests report that it is extremely/very important to be able to call a hotel during the purchase phase, and 58% are very likely to call a hotel if the capability is available in a smartphone search. The June Hotel Business Review will report on some of these issues and strategies, and examine how some sales and marketing professionals are integrating them into their operations.