How Hoteliers Can Increase Revenue & Satisfaction by Giving Guests What They Want When They Want It
By Pierre Boettner
The hotel shopping model is changing. We see it in the growth of vacation rental sites like Airbnb and HomeAway. We see it in the shift from cookie cutter chains to boutique hotels that reflect the uniqueness of their location. And we see it in the travel trend toward personalization.
Today's discerning travelers not only want individualized experiences tailored to their priorities, but they expect their hotel rooms to provide more than just a bed to sleep in. Guests want the ability to customize their stay, with price being only a secondary consideration. They want to be able to select – and are willing to pay for – the room features and amenities that are most important to them. Hotels looking to differentiate themselves can do so by giving customers what they want – exactly what they want.
Room Features Over Room Categories
It's no longer a simple question of whether your customer prefers a standard double room or a suite. A recent report from Oracle Hospitality, "Creating the Coveted Hotel Guest Experience," showed that in-room features are used more by hotel guests than on-property services. In addition, 77 percent of travelers say that amenities play a fundamental role in their decision whether to book accommodation, while nearly half want the ability to select a specific room location. Today's guests think of their hotel room as a personal refuge, a "home away from home," filled with the features and creature comforts they value most.
Complimentary Wi-Fi, mobile check-in, and the ability to stream personal content on a hotel room television are quickly becoming the expected norm. Beyond this, however, specific room features desired by guests can vary widely, and require greater customization. A good desk and high-end coffee maker may be important to a business traveler, a leisure traveler may want to ensure their room is on a specific floor and includes a balcony, and the couple on a romantic getaway wants a room offering heart-stopping views or a cozy fireplace where they can snuggle at night.
For better online conversion, sell combinations of room features rather than offering broad room categories. The hotelier who can guarantee the room features their guests will be ready and waiting for them when they pull into the hotel parking lot is well ahead of the game when it comes to building loyalty and gaining repeat business.
Include Room Features in the Booking Flow
The traditional way of booking a hotel room does not satisfy this growing demand for personalization in specific room features. Hotel shoppers no longer want to wade through a bland list of room categories that may or may not include the amenities they desire. And they don't want to arrive at a hotel only to find that their wishes can't be accommodated. The key is to include room features and amenities within the booking process. A hotelier that automates room assignments with the exact features and amenities their guest's desire creates stronger customer engagement and goodwill.
Does your guest want a chilled bottle of champagne waiting upon arrival? After a busy day of exploring, do you prefer to shower, and then drop into the crisp sheets of linens changed daily rather than the standard 2 or 3 days? With each opportunity to select another service amenity they want – a potential guest moves further along the booking path. Guests watch their dream vacation experience being transformed into reality, making it much more likely they will hit that "book room" button.
A Natural Way to Increase Revenue
By selling room features as opposed to room categories, a hotel operator stands out from the competition. Sidestep the old-school commoditization model and stop focusing your efforts on simply trying to gain higher profits. Instead, through the use of automation and intelligent technology solutions, focus on allowing guests to customize their rooms with everything they want even before they arrive. Doing so will increase your customer satisfaction, build loyalty and grow repeat business which will naturally lead to higher revenues.
In addition, hoteliers can capitalize on the room features people want most. Today's travelers care about more than price point. When presented with opportunities to choose the room features they desire, such as a great view, or optional extras like a bottle of wine or in-room massage, guests are willing to pay more for the amenities they value.
The future of hotel success lies in selling features and services directly within the booking process, thus guaranteeing you give your guests exactly what they want when they want it. Through the power of personalization, hoteliers can transform dreams into reality, increase guest satisfaction and in the process, their hotel's bottom line.