The term personalization has been around for a while, during the age of e-commerce it is widely applied to technologies that help to promote the right offer at the right time to the right customer (or get as close as possible to that right customer), first through retail web sites, and now via mobile sites and apps.
Early personalization was mostly done through monitoring the shopping behavior from the customer on the web, combined with known demographic details, such as location, age and recent purchases, all of which are recorded and stored once the customer signed on to the web site. Personalization has served companies such as Amazon and Google well.
Personalization is used to create the best user experience as explained by Adam Luchsinger from Google “What is the consumer experience, and how can we take them from intent to action? Personalization is the key for ease of use and providing the right answer at the right time.” It has helped Google’s bottom line, by providing more lucrative and targeted conversation opportunity.
Let’s focus in on that last part “targeted conversation”. Hotels have a limited amount of products to offer, which makes personalization more difficult to apply. besides the hotel room, what other products could a hotel offer to encourage the “click to buy”, unless the hotel is a large resort… not a whole lot. Personalization through technology does not offer much trust either, especially when it is mainly focused on driving the customer to buy more.
Social conversation on the other hand offers a much wider range of “personalization” opportunities, not just designed and pushed to the guest by technology, but much more promoted “on behalf” of the hotel by other guests. Think of all the review sites, these sites create conversation and trust, and are an important decision maker for many potential hotel guests. Reviews create personalized “free” up sell for hotels. One guest recommends the hotel, the other decides to stay, all based on trust.
Would it not be great if this type of trusted personalization and engagement could be extended amongst guests throughout their stay. Guests can tell other guests how great the T-Bone Steak in the hotels restaurant was, others can be encouraged to check it out, or the manager can quickly post a targeted special offer. Someone who is traveling alone, but wants to play golf can ask other guests to join him, and before you know it, the hotel has “up sold” 4 rounds of golf and a few extra T-Bone Steaks. In addition to personalization, social staying (guests engaging with each other via social media while staying at the hotel) offers great service and margin opportunities for tomorrows hotels today.