By Adam Hoydysh, Vice President of Hotel Sales at Plum
When we speak to modern guest expectations, a number of considerations come to mind. The mobile experience, the self-service model, advanced guest-facing technology, artificial intelligence, virtual reality and hyper-personalization are just a few of the trends currently redefining the future of travel and hospitality. But as we continue to shift into this age of personalization and rising guest expectations, we arrive at the question — Is there an ROI to exceeding guest expectations?
The answer is, indisputably, yes.
Any hotel that understands the ever-increasing importance of guest satisfaction, can easily recognize the ways in which a more seamless and personalized offering is becoming paramount across the hospitality landscape. Why? Because if you aren’t meeting (or ideally, exceeding) guest expectations, you aren’t attracting guests or establishing long-term guest loyalty. And if you aren’t creating a community of loyal guests, well… another property will.
In a recent whitepaper published by Deloitte, it was noted that “In order to win and retain guest preference, hotels should be more thoughtful about how people and technology, powered by insights, weave together to deliver authentic hospitality.” After all, building long-term, guest loyalty is an on-going investment, one which can be supported across various touch-points of the hospitality experience.
So, let’s take this understanding a step beyond guest check-in and operational technology, all the way into the hotel room of each guest. How can hotels affirm their dedication to a more modern, personalized experience with the provision of non-essential, luxury items and in-room services?
Guest Relations Manager at The Thief Hotel, Dominic Gorham, explains, “I believe the future of service will be based in informality. It has to be more relaxed, more instantaneous.” In fact, today’s concept of luxury has evolved in tandem with industry shifts in guest expectations. Moving beyond the high thread-count sheets and impeccable rooms with sprawling design and amenities, modern luxury focuses more on the complete guest experience and provision of instant gratification. And while the cornerstones of ‘luxury travel’ will remain, the marriage of traditional service and new-age technology allows for a leaner, more accessible version of modern luxury. Because guests today aren’t just looking for a bed to sleep in; rather, they crave an experience that allows them to indulge and feel catered to both on and off property.
This can be achieved through luxury service staples, as well as the basic amenities. After all, guests expect hotel properties to meet their expectations with luxury upgrades, but if you exceed their expectations on the non-essentials too, demonstrating that you’ve truly considered every aspect of their stay, they’ll surely take notice.
Ultimately, non-essential luxury and in-room services represent a wealth of opportunity for hotels to go above and beyond for their guests, which is the true competitive differentiator in today’s landscape. This can include a number of amenities and considerations such as free, in-room Wi-Fi, a Smart TV with Netflix etc., extra chargers, in-room Nespresso, a built-in iPad control for lights/temperatures and, our personal favorite, in-room by-the-glass wine. After a hectic day of travel, work or sightseeing, many guests may prefer a low-touch, self-service model that allows them seamless, instant gratification and luxury.
Virtualizing an amenity, such as by-the-glass wine, allows hotels to not only significantly reduce labor costs, but appeal to an instantaneous, low-touch service model for each guest. Forget waiting around for room service to serve up a cling-wrapped glass of wine after a 20-minute delay and added surcharges or scrambling around in the hotel minibar. Instead, hotels can offer each guest an automatic, perfectly preserved and chilled glass of wine on demand. The in-room appliance uses cloud software to automatically track and bill guests, while also alerting housekeeping when it is time to replace an empty bottle. This not only represents a unique and modern offering to hotels of various sizes but caters to the modern guests’ evolving demand for convenience across every touchpoint of their stay.
And in case you’re not entirely convinced that the inclusion of luxury, non-essential amenities and services will provide your property with the ROI of an enhanced customer experience, consider this:
A 2014 study of the Value of Customer Experience amongst two $1 billion+ businesses published in Harvard Business Review (HBR) managed to quantify the effects of good customer experience. The researchers found that “after controlling for other factors that drive repeat purchases in the transaction-based business (for example, how often the customer needs the type of goods and services that the company sells), customers who had the best past experiences spend 140% more compared to those who had the poorest past experience”. And considering that 68% of the customers change brands/providers due to poor customer service, the argument for the prioritization of customer service becomes undeniable.
So, ask yourself — are you ready to invest in an enhanced guest experience that paves the way for the long-term ROI of happy, loyal guests? If so, we can help. Click here to learn more.