By Frank Pitsikalis
What one guest considers as “luxury” is different from another and for that reason, luxury hotels must offer their guests a variety of choices mapped to their individual preferences to deliver a hyper-personalized luxury experience. Choice is critical for today’s luxury travelers – choice of where to travel, where to stay, what kind of experience they wish to have, and how they want to interact with a property. As noted in a recent EHL Insights article,
We keep defining the word luxury but ultimately it has to be defined by the customer. While the level of service, convenience, and attention rank high on the luxury spectrum, providing the guest with a myriad of choices significantly enhances those luxury service offerings, and allows the property to play a crucial part in creating a unique experience catered to their guest’s unique interests and preferences.
Every guest has their own definition of luxury, and resorts must meet those expectations by facilitating experiences that appeal to a spectrum of guests if they want to truly thrive in the luxury segment of the market, build lasting loyalty, and substantially increase revenue. Some guests see luxury as the ability to self-service and personally manage their stay, experiences, and meals. Others see luxury as face-to-face, full-service interactions from the hotel property – whether checking in, eating in the fine dining restaurant, or having lunch by the pool. The true formula for success is a careful blend of both.
Last year, the global luxury hotel market topped $128.54 billion (USD), and it is projected to reach $140.28 billion (USD) in 2023 and $293.61 billion (USD) by 2030. Properties with a passion for service and always catering to guest preferences will thrive in this surging luxury market by providing a level of choice that allows guests to get what they want, when, where, and how they want it.
Every touchpoint matters, so optimizing each is critical. For instance, guests get their first exposure to the level of luxury a property provides when they first book their stay. Some guests expect to access the property’s website or app, view and select from different room types at their leisure, and then access amenities, spa services, golf tee times, and other special services to enhance their trip. They require full access to everything the property offers to plan and personalize their visit before they leave home. Other guests look for a more personal touch and prefer quick access to a staff member who can help book their stay and recommend activities based on their current booking or past stays.
Once guests arrive at a property, they expect to have free reign to select exactly how they interact with the property and staff. Some guests see luxury as a super high-touch experience where they are greeted by name with their favorite glass of wine and checked in personally by a team member before they are escorted to their room. Others expect the ability to check in prior to arrival on their mobile device or on-property at a kiosk, bypass the front desk, and go straight to their room using a mobile key after a long day of travel. Both options represent a luxurious, convenient, and personalized experience, but each caters to guest preferences. This high-touch, personalized model must serve all segments well.
After a guest has settled in, they may want to enjoy an uninterrupted lunch in their suite with an ocean view, retreat to a cabana on the beach with a full-time steward or pick up a quick snack to take on a hike. Luxury appears in different forms to different people, and luxury resorts must be there every step of the way, offering a myriad of food and beverage choices that always meet their unique needs and preferences. Guests who prefer minimal staff interaction want the ability to order a meal on demand via the hotel’s app, quickly and easily, wherever they are on the property. It is essential for these guests to have several convenient payment options that are seamless via a mobile device or through a QR code on the check once their meal arrives. Other guests, like the hiker, may want the option of ordering food on demand for pickup via the property’s app or at a self-serve kiosk at a food outlet or grab-n-go market. And for guests who prefer full service, they want the option of a five-course dinner in a fine dining restaurant with wine paired perfectly to their favorite cuisine. The choice is always left to the guest but the property must always be beholden to delivering a higher, truly luxury standard at every interaction.
Facilitating the individual expectations of a luxury experience requires properties to incorporate the right technology solutions, including core property management, point-of-sale, and inventory & procurement solutions into their operations. These state-of-the-art systems explicitly built for the hospitality industry improve operational efficiency, help grow margins while providing staff with tools to make their jobs more fulfilling, and help them elevate guest experiences. These solutions enable a luxury resort to offer the variety of choices essential for allowing guests to decide how they experience their stay.
Guests want what they want when and where they want it, and luxury properties must be flexible to meet their requirements. When luxury properties offer guests choices in how they interact with the property, they can cater to the full spectrum of key ingredients that truly defines what a luxury stay means to them. While some guests might think of luxury as being waited on hand and foot, others may see it as a completely self-curated stay. Either way, properties, and their staff that offer guests the ability to choose will fulfill the promise of zero disappointment experiences to guests, create lifelong champions for their brand, and see guest delight reciprocated in the form of repeat stays, five-star reviews, and higher profits.
Reprinted from the International Luxury Hotel Association with permission from theilha.com.