The increasing customer expectation for personalisation pervades the hospitality industry. Customers expect marketers to tailor services to their wants and needs, and seek individualisation at every touchpoint. This increasing expectation and the change in consumer behaviour means hotels are often falling behind.
According to a recent study by Qubit, personalisation would significantly increase an establishment’s revenue, personalising guest relations can increase revenues by 6%.
WHY PERSONALISATION ?
The two main reasons why personalising guest relations is essential for a hotel:
REASON 1: MORE UPSELL
Upselling is the term used to refer to the sale of services additional to the main service, namely the rental of a hotel room.
A recent study found that 62% of consumers would be open to spending more if an additional service compliments or enhances their main purchase. This confirms the potential for additional sales, in fact, by customising these services and only offering services that are of interest to the guest you increase the chance of a sale.
REASON 2: IMPROVE THE GUEST EXPERIENCE AND THEREFORE SATISFACTION
A customer-first approach will increase customer satisfaction and loyalty. Unlike a traveller staying in a seasonal rental such as Airbnb, a guest staying in a hotel expects a range of services, recommendations, hospitality, a special welcome…
It is therefore essential to address each guest individually and to understand their expectations and preferences in order to respond as accurately as possible throughout their stay.
If you personalise customer relations you will improve customer satisfaction and therefore you will enhance your establishment’s reputation. Today, reviews and ratings from guests have a large impact on potential bookers, they are an integral part of the purchasing process. A study by TrustYou found that 88% of travellers filter out hotels from their searches with an average star rating below three. The booking process is therefore hugely influenced by customer opinions.
HOW TO PERSONALISE?
GUEST PROFILES ARE INVALUABLE
Guest data is essential to understand your guests preferences, behaviour, the interactions they want (email, SMS, WhatsApp…) and their potential purchases.
This is key to provide effective marketing, improve interactions with your guests and meet guest’s specific needs at the right time.
Given the volume of guest data to process, it is useful to invest in a software that will process and analyse data in record time.
KNOW WHO YOUR GUESTS ARE
Using your guest data, try to define the guest types (or personas in marketing) that are staying at your hotel.
• the business traveller always on the move
• the family on a sightseeing holiday
• the couple enjoying a romantic weekend
• the parents visiting their child
All these guest types can be further characterised with other criteria such as the level of customer loyalty or satisfaction:
• the business traveller who comes every year to a trade fair
• the parents who stay at your establishment every 3 months to see their child at university
• the guest who left a very positive review the last time he stayed in one of your establishments
• the guest who has been to your restaurant or spa several times
• the couple who have already stayed at your establishment for a weekend and are now renewing their wedding vows
Now you are able to offer each guest a service or product that is likely to be of interest to them. This enables you to contact potential partners to organise the offers, such as a transport company in order to offer airport transfers. The time needed to find a match between services and guest-types is not lost time, it will pay off.
WHICH SERVICES TO UPSELL?
As mentioned, you should only upsell services that may be of interest to guests. This is where the challenge of personalisation lies.
Examples of upsell products:
A business traveller:
• Early Check-in / Late Check-out: send an email to your guests a few days before their arrival offering a check-in in advance, and resend it to those who have not completed it the day before their arrival. Do the same for a late check-out.
• Transfer: provide your guests with quick and easy transportation from the airport or train station directly to the hotel.
• Room service: ordering a club sandwich to your room is a service hugely appreciated by business travellers who don’t have the time to find a bite to eat, or who have missed the service of the local restaurants.
A couple on a romantic getaway:
• Special in-room welcome: roses and champagne for a couple on holiday, a small gift for a birthday or a fruit basket to be left in the room upon arrival.
• Spa treatments or massages: after a long day travelling guests often want to relax. Give them the possibility to book treatments in advance of their arrival.
• Room upgrades: a few days before arrival send your guest an email with a special upgrade offer. The extra price will feel smaller in comparison to their original booking.
A family visiting:
• Changing the room set-up: suggest personalised room features, for example a room with a spare bed and a bath for a family.
• Activities: offer parents typical activities that they can easily book in just a few clicks (tickets for Disneyland, visit of the Eiffel Tower, entrance to the Louvre,…)
• Food & Beverage: encourage guests to book a table in your restaurant or breakfast in advance. Only offer this to guests who have not already booked.
• Promotions: To reward a loyal customer or one who has recommended you, offer them a discount on one of your services (spa, restaurant, suite, next stay,…) their satisfaction will hugely increase as they will be rewarded for staying with you.
Lastly, it is not enough to adapt the services you offer to your guest, you must also adapt the messages you send them. The most obvious example is the greeting message you send to a guest who has already stayed with you, a “happy to see you again” will have much more impact than a standard greeting.
WHEN TO UPSELL?
The pre-arrival period is the biggest window of opportunity to upsell whilst collecting additional guest data. Ask your guests if there is anything you can do to personalise their experience, this allows you to build your guest profiles.
It is not at the booking point or on the day of arrival that you will be able to upsell best, but during the few days prior to arrival. The exact moment varies according to the type of guest and the type of stay.
THE KEY MESSAGE
Personalisation is crucial to increase guest satisfaction, improve upsell, retain guest loyalty, and maintain a good reputation. Increasing guest expectations means that hoteliers need to personalise the entire guest journey from start to finish. It is no longer a question of offering the same options to all your guests, now you need to suggest services that are tailored and personalised to each guest, as you would if they spoke to you directly.
However, personalisation is fuelled by guest data. Without the smart collection of data, personalisation can not be automated or efficient. Data needs to be intelligently managed in order to provide an experience that meets the expectations of each guest.
For further information:
❯ Infosys: Rethinking Retail
❯ Forrester: Customer Experience in Hospitality: Embrace Customer Data And Elevate The Guest Experience
❯ Travel Daily News: 2019 Hotel Trends: The power of personalization and building personal connections
❯ TripAdvisor: 5 Tips Inspired by Our New Traveler Survey
❯ Qubit: Getting 6% more
❯ TrustYou: Online Booking Trends: Understanding Traveler Behavior