Peter Waters heads the hotel IT solutions portfolio at Amadeus. Here’s his vision for how hotel companies can use new technologies to better personalize traveler experiences, recognize and reward their business, and earn a few extra bucks.
Business traveler expectations for hotel stays have been evolving for a while. In some respects, the pandemic reinforced expectations for improved guest experiences rather than creating new ones. In other cases, corporate travel managers have an increased need for preferred properties with high and established standards for cleanliness and safety. All travelers want unique experiences, bespoke stays and greater value relative to cost. And expectations only rise when business is combined with pleasure.
The impact of the pandemic has been severe for the hospitality industry. The incredible challenges for hoteliers include the ebb and flow of occupancies, with properties experiencing both record highs and lows, coupled with high staff turnover and what appear to be permanent staff shortages. While the environment is tough, a number of hotel companies are moving forward with technology plans, implementing solutions that complement and streamline experiences while retaining a human touch. As they anticipate the return of business travel, here are the experiences these hoteliers are focused on delivering.
Recognition, Reward And Personalization
Let’s first look at guest experience dynamics that can enhance a hotelier’s ability to deliver more unique stays and greater value. Guests crave recognition, which creates a more personal connection with a property or brand. Relevant and personalized offers based on guest profile data and preferences (shopping, booking, on-property, post-stay) help build a unique experience for the guest. When the hotel recognizes the guest’s name and milestone events like birthdays and anniversaries, it can help deepen loyalty.
Business travelers, who tend to frequent the same properties due to proximity to sites or clients, especially appreciate and value the extra steps hoteliers can take to reward them for their business. Automatic early check-in or late checkout, free room upgrades, or complimentary food or beverage items are simple ways hoteliers can thank guests for their loyalty.
Business travelers also are frequently willing to pay more for the items they want — like a specific floor or view, office tools and digital media — and don’t want to pay for items they don’t need or desire. Offering the ability to personalize every aspect of the hotel stay can deliver not only a greater share of bookings, but also higher ancillary revenues.
Technology To Unlock Personalization’s Potential
Luckily for hoteliers, we are in the midst of a technological revolution that will unlock new potential for addressing business traveler needs with integrated platforms, connected data and attribute-based selling.
The true potential of hospitality is realized through comprehensive solution integrations. These integrations connect central reservations systems, property management systems and customer relationship management systems, plus business intelligence and media. A single platform approach disrupts the role of legacy systems and their inherent limitations and provides one view of inventory and the guest.
With this platform evolution, hoteliers can better understand, target and convert guests, and also enable more profitable and efficient demand generation strategies.
The connection of the data, united by integrated platforms, grants hoteliers a level of comprehensive guest awareness and recognition that can yield major benefits at every stage of the guest journey. They can merchandize special offers that meet the needs and desires of guests across distribution channels to deliver greater value with additional enhancements that align with previous booking behavior and preferences.
Selling Experiences, Not Rooms
Historically, the focus across hospitality has been on selling rooms. Attribute-based selling breaks from this paradigm to allow hoteliers to instead sell experiences that will deliver greater personalization and higher revenue potential. With an integrated CRS and PMS platform operating off a single view of inventory, it becomes possible for guests to build ideal stays with both room and non-room products, including third-party services.
For instance, a businessperson who wants to ensure he or she gets in a workout can select from available inventory in the shopping flow to build their ideal stay. This might include a king bed, high floor, ocean view, yoga mats, smart speaker and an in-room treadmill.
With attribute-based selling, the guest pays only for those items they value, and the hotelier drives significant ancillary revenue through the additional attributes.
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