A decade ago, we were far less demanding and so much more adaptable in terms of what was acceptable. But with the rapid (and continuous) development in technology, it’s no surprise that the needs and expectations of guests have changed. Guests now expect delivery times and levels of service that they would never have imagined 10 years ago, and for a hotel, keeping up with these expectations can seem like a big challenge.
So what exactly do guests want and are you prepared to meet those demands? Customer satisfaction now extends beyond human interaction. Travelers are now more self-sufficient and expect instant gratification; they are looking for hotels that offer quick, but highly personalized service.
Let’s start with the very basics; Wi-Fi. 85% of international travelers carry some kind of mobile device with them while traveling (Frederic Gonzalo, 2016) and it’s really no surprise that guests who travel with devices no longer see Wi-Fi as a perk, but as a must-have when they check in at a hotel. Wi-Fi is now deemed to be a priority and is seen as more important than a hotel’s location, parking and even complimentary breakfast! Guests expect it to be free – in fact 96% of your guests think it should be free and one third of them would consider a lack of it to be a deal-breaker; 27% of travelers would refuse to stay somewhere without free Wi-Fi. I think you get the point!
- Self-Control: Studies confirm the desire for travelers to retain greater control of their stay through mobile. 60% of consumers are more likely to choose a smartphone-enabled hotel (Software Advice) and want to use their mobile devices to handle routine functions. A 2015 survey from The Center for Hospitality Research at Cornell University found that guests generally wanted greater automation of a wide variety of procedures and interactions, such as, checking in and out of the hotel, receiving a notification on their device when their room is ready, requesting hotel amenities, and ordering room service. Guests are also interested in looking at more information about their hotels, including upgrading a room before checking in, requesting reservations for on- and off-site restaurants, or having the valet retrieve the car.
Self-service is the currency of our time – long gone are the days where guest want to walk up to a front desk and wait in line to register for their room. Guests want to have the option to do everything via their mobile device.
- Personalization: Everything is personalized nowadays, from your name on your coffee at Starbucks, to Google search rankings, Netflix recommendations and even your shopping coupons are based on pervious grocery shopping! Consequently, guests expect digital interactions with the hotel to be customized.
According to a Yahoo survey, 78% of consumers expressed a desire for some kind of personalization; 75% of mobile users are interested in having loyalty program points & rewards in mobile wallet with personalized coupons, discounts and special offers (Switchfly) with 77% of smartphone users saying that receiving points/rewards, exclusive content & special messages would have a positive impact on their brand loyalty. Customers and guests are no longer satisfied with “one size fits all”.
“Consumers have evolved and they realize brands collect data from them. What irritates them is when the brand doesn’t use the data to reward the customer or acknowledge they ‘know’ them.” Melissa Fruend, a partner at LoyaltyOne Consulting. Hoteliers that can deliver effective mobile‑centric personalization will become brands of choice.
- Communication: Messaging and chat services are rapidly becoming another way that technology is transforming what is thought of as a good service experience and how it is delivered. “Some 75% of people travel with one or more devices and the percentage is higher for younger travelers. We know today’s travelers want a mobile experience built around their changing needs and desire to communicate on their terms.” Marriott VP Matthew Carroll.
Chat is a versatile, effective way to ‘chat’ to guests in a place they are already conversing and in a way that feels personal and not too invasive or pushy. “A mobile-first approach is required for satisfying consumers, growing reliance for mobile communications and orchestrating all communication channels in a brand’s omni-chanel customer engagement strategies. Mobile messaging will drive faster, more context-based engagement…” Marco Lafrentz, Product Manager, Tyntec.
There is no doubt that technology is changing guest expectations in terms of service and how it is delivered; it has become critical to attracting and retaining hotel guests.
Mobile technology in particular can improve the provision of customer service in hospitality and raise the level of service expectations; you can give the control to your guests that they have come to expect from their everyday lives, enable and deliver a personalized service all of which can generate increased customer loyalty, higher occupancy rates, and an improved bottom line.
Is your hotel prepared to meet these ‘new’ demands?