By Jos Schaap CEO and Founder – StayNTouch
We aren’t just living in a mobile age — we are living in an ‘on-demand’ economy, and it is revolutionizing business models and the corresponding consumer experience across every industry. With digital platforms and apps empowering instant gratification, paired with efficient and intuitive technological properties to cater to a personalized and data-driven experience, the supply which meets the demand of customers is readily available, 24/7.
The modern consumer has become accustomed to the ease of uninhibited access to messaging, e-mail, social media, e-commerce, and general online functionality through the use of their mobile device, tablet, laptops and more. Of course, with this access comes a learned preference for fast and convenient service. In fact, reports studying consumer behavior surrounding the adoption of online grocery shopping noted “convenience of delivery” as the primary motivator. Studies also show that 58% of consumers consider 'the ability to find what I want quickly and easily' as the most important factor that determined which brands win their business. Further, Harvard Business Review Centre notes that the number one factor in delivering a great customer experience is not delighting customers, but reducing their efforts. Consider this the ‘culture of convenience.’
This becomes especially apparent within the hospitality industry, as we witness the ways in which guest expectations are rapidly evolving with convenience and personalization as paramount factors to success. With this in mind, it’s more important than ever before for hoteliers to focus on yielding to guest demands and desires for convenience and control, across every touch-point of service.
Is Your Online Experience Accountable?
According to Forrester, 66% of customers think that valuing their time is the most important element to consider to provide a good online customer service. Further, 53% of customers will abandon a mobile site that takes over 3 seconds to load, and for every second delay in mobile page load, conversions can fall by up to 20%. While digital platforms (PMS, CRM, apps, self-service kiosks and more) open a world of opportunity to connect with both current/prospective guests and provide immediate access, this can only be effective if the tools are virtually foolproof. Essentially, getting on board with the digital trend doesn’t just mean buying into technology that almost or sometimes meets demand — it needs to offer the complete experience to every guest, every time. If your property offers self-service kiosks, for example, is the platform user-friendly? Does it offer seamless load times and effective communications and prompts? Does your mobile check-in system work most of the time or all of the time? Does your PMS effectively empower your staff to offer guests the best possible experience?
Ultimately, it is every hotelier’s responsibility to effectively vet digital solutions and ensure they are investing in technology vendors that not only offer robust and tested platforms but on-going support and scalability. So, as a hotelier, ask yourself — can you rely on the technology you have in place? And if not, what’s missing? Because the ongoing curation of a reliable, seamless online guest experience will undoubtedly be integral to a hotel’s success both now and in the future.
Empower Your Guests With Choices
No two guests are the same — whether they are traveling for work or leisure, with family, on a wellness vacation or in town for an event —guest preferences and corresponding service expectations vary. As such, it’s ever-important to offer guests a choice in service to ensure your service offering is entirely accountable to each individual guests’ needs and expectations. While many guests may prefer the traditional, high-touch interaction with hotel staff at each touch-point of their stay, others may opt for a more low-touch, digital-forward experience.
In fact, reports predict that by 2020, customers will manage 87% of their customer relationships without interacting with humans. So, while in-person engagement will never cease to be an integral part of the hospitality experience, the curation of a truly efficient and intuitive digital guest experience is equally paramount in the modern landscape.
Find New Ways to Enhance Guest Experiences
You can thank the likes of Uber, Lyft, and Amazon Prime for inspiring the on-demand economy. People expect not just information now, but the actual products and services too. Hotels must cater to how guests’ demands are evolving to design fast, frictionless, mobile-centric experiences that engage today’s increasingly impatient travelers. Considering that 80% of businesses believe they provide excellent customer service, but only 8% of customers agree, there is a significant disconnect between brands and their customers, and a missed opportunity to establish long-term loyalty. By increasing customer retention rates by just 5%, hotels can increase profits from 25% to 95%. Bottom line; guest service translates to revenue, and utilizing the power of intuitive digital platforms will enhance a hotels’ ability to maximize that revenue opportunity.
Leverage Technology That Drives Hospitality
The solution? Invest in a mobile hotel management system that offers mobile access and cross-departmental communications to enhance productivity, seamless interfaces to centralize guest data from all touchpoints, revenue-enhancing features like rate management, channel management, group management, and marketing capabilities like automated up-sells, integrated booking engine to drive direct bookings, and more. With data-backed insights making personalization easy and frictionless interactions while on the property, guests can trust in your hotel for a unique and memorable experience — one that keeps them coming back time and time again.
A recent study by H2C revealed that only 38% of respondents plan on staying with their current PMS strategy, with cloud solutions and integration (e.g., with CRM technology) as driving factors for a strategy shift. When asked about their biggest concerns with their existing PMS, 30% of respondents say lack of support from their PMS vendor, with more than half (57%) of hotel chains rating their PMS vendor as average or poor for their support services. When it comes to guests, only one-third (38%) said they could use the PMS in a ‘guest-facing’ way, be that managing bookings or letting them access hotel services.
So how do you provide guests with what they want in the emerging era of on-demand service and the culture of convenience? Ultimately, by giving your staff the tools and technology they need to optimize services, which includes an innovative, modern PMS backed by a responsive support partnership, they can better provide your guests with everything they want, every stay, to keep them coming back!
To learn more watch this complete mobile guest journey video "THE NEW WAY… TO HOTEL!"