When you visited a hotel few years back, what was the scenario? A front-desk receptionist will greet you, ask you some of your personal details and the timing of your check-out. But time is changing and so does the technology involved and utilized in the hotels! Just think, won’t it be a jaw-dropping experience if a talking robot welcomes you at the front-desk instead of a human being! Yes, right? Front-desk robots, Internet of Things, and voice & chat-based solutions are the next-big-things in the hospitality industry and few countries like China has already started implementing it.
Similarly, following the same footsteps, Japan is also trying to redefine their customer experience by employing a dinosaur as a receptionist and hi-tech robots for the concierge service. But why all these? Is this really necessary? The answer is ‘YES’ because only communicating with the guests nowadays ain’t enough! We have to exceed their expectations and try to engage them in a better way because the hospitality industry doesn’t work like other; the hotel have to stay with the guest during the guests’ whole journey which includes pre-booking to post-stay so that the guest will always come back to you whenever they visit your town or your city.
Guests are embracing new technologies and apps on a daily basis, and hotel companies are trying their best to also get into the fray by developing their own guest facing applications to drive loyalty. All of this comes during the most fascinating time for the hotel industry as it grapples with the disruption from alternative lodging companies such as Airbnb and HomeAway. To say that all of these dynamics combined to make it difficult for a hotelier to connect and build relationships with their guests would be a major understatement. So, how can you connect rather than just communicate with the guests? Here are some ways!
Connect with guests by making your brand (hotel) more relevant
Brand relevance plays a crucial role when you want to connect with your guests. From beverages and snack foods to computers and consulting, the marketplace for nearly every product or service today is undergoing continuous change. Customers and millennial travelers are getting more mobile-oriented and are receiving better information than before, are increasingly able to get precisely what they want & when they want it, at the price they’re willing to pay.
To meet these myriads of desires, new and different products and services with the amalgamation of technology appear unceasingly. For the hospitality industry to succeed in this fast-moving environment, the hotel management must pay attention to a new — and, for most, unfamiliar — attribute of the hotel’s products, services, and brands: their relevance. Relevance is fundamentally different from the characteristics conventionally associated with a brand’s potency.
All too often, a brand seems strong because tracking studies show that it retains a high level of trust, esteem, perceived quality, and maybe even perceived innovativeness. With better brand relevance the millennial guest in your hotel remain satisfied and loyal. However, its market share may be slipping — perhaps significantly — and fewer customers, particularly new customers, are considering it but you can always boost your bookings and revenue with brand relevancy.
Connect with guests by implementing Internet of Things
Similarly, a hotelier can easily connect with the guest with the aid of Internet of Things (IoT). IoT is changing the way products and services deliver value and in imminent future it will also redefine guest experience by rendering hyper-personalized recommendations and solving real-time queries of the guests. Starwood Hotels & Resorts utilized a technique called “daylight harvesting” to save energy and increase indoor lighting consistency by automatically adjusting the energy-efficient LED lighting based on the natural light detected coming into the room. In layman’s term, IoT will help you to:
- Boost productivity: One of the most important business trends nowadays is automation. From solopreneurs to multinational corporations, businesses are taking advantage of this to save the only resource that cannot be recovered: time. The quote “time is money” is well-known, and now is more relevant than ever. So if you help your employees to save time in tasks that can be automated, this will not only increase productivity, but also motivation.
- Information about customers’ habits and behavior: This is especially valuable for B2C companies (like retail stores or online shops), IoT offers information about the customers that wasn’t available before: Routines, preferences, shopper and consumer patterns, and more. Even if your company is B2B, serving other businesses, the inclusion of IoT in your working processes allows you to know your customers more and anticipate to their needs, providing products and services that respond to their particular situations. This is marketing automation. In other words, with IoT, data compilation and analysis is crucial. Analytics not only allow you to know more about how customers use and interact with technology, but also boost the creation of new business models.
- Process optimization: Processes like operation management, supply chain optimization, equipment maintenance will be done more efficiently and with less complications using this type of technology. IoT is a great resource to integrate your ERP and CRM to the Internet. If you integrate ERP and CRM, it will be easier and faster to send quotes, manage inventory, control paid and unpaid invoices, among other key business management operations. That way, your staff can focus on what matters the most to grow your business: Acquiring more customers and keeping the current customers happy. Thanks to IoT, a hotel can easily check on the existing sensor-data to reckon what are the hazardous or risky trends and can notify the suitable maintenance personnel before the issue escalates.
- Increased connectivity and engagement between the hotel & guest: With IoT you can provide better connectivity to the guests with your amenities in the hotel. With tech like, VR the guest won’t have to leave their hotel room and they can know each and every information with minuscule details involved. Also, IoT can send custom-tailored recommendations to the guests as per their interest, for example updated news of any nearby beach, a cafe or any tourist sightseeing place.
Connect with guests via voice and chat-based services
Chatbots can make the customer experience personal without the cost of hiring any human and you can employ your staff for effective human-touch whenever required. With chatbots, you can retarget your guests too! How? Just implement a chatbot with an inbuilt CRM and engage your customers on digital platforms like- social media, emails, and SMS; tell them about your latest services, offers and other relatable information.
Chatbots are ideal for customer-centric businesses and destinations. They can serve as 24/7 front-end customer care specialists and they are capable of totally transforming visitor servicing in destinations after hours. Frequently asked questions and inquiries can be answered any time of the day or night, including when travelers are arriving at a hotel and the visitor information center / welcome center is closed. With chatbots, the check-in/out is a cakewalk because you don’t have to wait for the staff to solve your query.
Chatbots can also render you hyper-personalized recommendations based on your behavior and preference by promoting relationship management. This may sound as a contradiction, but bots are really great at managing relationships with human beings. With thoughtful pre-programming, chatbots can supplement the entire travel/stay experience in a hotel, beginning with automated pre-arrival reminders, to suggesting nearby entertainment spots and transportation facilities at destination. The best part of chatbots- they stay connected with the guests right from the pre-arrival stage to post-departure.
Likewise, the hospitality industry is also undergoing several changes and hands-free communication is trending and thriving for the future to be your digital butler and provide you concierge services. Devices like Amazon Alexa and Siri will transform your guest experience completely by rendering you hyper-personalized and custom-tailored recommendations based on your behavior and preferences.
Emotional touch is the key!
Today, people expect a lot more of the people they do business with. This includes the hotels they stay at. It is not enough for your hotel to provide efficient customer service, a good price and luxurious amenities. You must also forge an emotional connection with your guests. Service, price and amenities may get new customers to book a room for their first visit, but the emotional bond that they form during their stay will keep them coming back regardless of price. So show your guests a little love, and they will return again and again.
It’s not a hidden fact that guests are looking for meaning and authentic experiences. They want more than efficiency from their hotel; they want it to be a part of their travel experience. For example, during breakfast, the staff could organize some ice-breaker games in order to get people to form a little community during their stay. Other social events like game nights or movies could be organized as well. You could also leverage the regional distinctiveness of your hotel to create a unique experience for your guests. You want to make their stay as memorable as possible. You have to be more than just be a generic place to stay.
To be truly personal, you want to anticipate your guests' needs. If you know they are in town for a business meeting, you might provide some stationary and easy access to the business center to facilitate their work. Provide information on local attractions for guests that are clearly tourists. This shows that you are paying attention and that you really care. You might also reference a guest's previous stay in order to identify what they might want during their stay.
Trilyo thrives to boost your guest engagement and redefine your customer experience by uplifting your already set norms of brand relevance. Go for a free trial to explore the magic of the voice and chat-based solutions for your business and know how can it make your brand more relevant!