We expect hospitality businesses to know about, and react to the special milestones in our lives. Whether it’s a birthday, anniversary, or retirement, the ideal guest experience is highly personal. Using the right tools, here's how to improve guest experience in the competitive hospitality market.
As consumer expectations shift towards this level of service, so do hotel accommodations.
The hotel industry has reached a saturation point for ‘extravagance and luxury’. This next level of service has created room for a new source of appeal: personalization.
Differentiation through personalization?
Companies are emptying their pockets to adapt to these changing consumer expectations for a few reasons:
- To appeal to the growing community of Millennial travelers
- To distinguish themselves in a highly competitive market with low barriers to entry
- To compete with the non-traditional hotel alternatives, like AirBnB, that are acquiring larger market shares
- To promote positive online reviews and ratings
Consumer expectations have grown across all industries, but none more than the hotel sector. Now, hotels worldwide are adopting new methods of accommodating these demands.
The ultimate goal: increase brand loyalty by creating memorable, “tweet-worthy” experiences.
The actual result: an industry-wide trend of guest personalization.
This trend has only further intensified the competitive nature of the hospitality market. Online reviews of guest experiences are not only more accessible, but also more influential on future business than ever before.
Hotels' main revenue drivers have changed. Brand-name recognition is out. Consumer reviews are in.
Online recommendations and reviews: increasingly influential.
Hotel websites are no longer the first stop for travellers’ pre-trip research.
The hospitality industry has become the most popular topic for review on social media networks and review services. A recent study shows that 46% of guests share reviews of their stay, post-vacation. These guest reviews are now shaping traveler's hotel decisions and the market as a whole.
Second only to word-of-mouth recommendations, 70% of consumers see online reviews as a top trusted form of advertising. And, the use of external review sources does, in fact, correlate to actual hotel selection. Only 48% of travelers that use guest reviews for travel research actually stick with their original plans.
These results display a few key insights into the hotel industry.
Positive guest experiences are essential to retaining existing customers (no surprise here). But, the actual re-telling of these experiences by past guests may be even more important:
New customer acquisition and revenue margins are now effectively dependent on these reviews.
This shift in how we transfer information and make travel decisions means that brand reputation is amplified online. Personal reviews from previous guests are now the main contributing factor to hotels' future success, or lack thereof.
But how do hotels know what guests personally want?
Traditionally, there has been a lack of usable and accessible data on hotel guests for a number of reasons:
- Online discussions and comments often happen without a specific “mention” or “hashtag.”
- Guests are traveling inconsistently or infrequently
- Traveller behaviour is different depending on the trip occasion
Enter - location-based social media search tools.
Gaining the ability to turn the abundance of online consumer data into increased retention rates and new customer acquisition is valuable to any company, especially in the hospitality industry.
Location-based social media search tools provide users with the ability to compile and view all public social media data from a chosen geographical area on one platform, in real time.
This ability allows companies to access several key consumer insights:
- What guests are saying about them, as well as their competitors.
- What are their guest’s special interests and preferences
- What is their overall brand perception and guest satisfaction
- What 'Surprise and delight' worthy events and moments can be enhanced
The consumer visibility that geo-social marketing platforms give companies allows them to play a larger role in their guests’ experiences by creating the lasting memories and shareable moments that will prompt those influential reviews.
Surprise and delight.
Companies seek opportunities that will deepen their relationships with customers. Take, for example, a couple that posts on social media announcing their engagement while on vacation. With the use of social media discovery, the hotel staff can be alerted about this milestone and congratulate them with a bottle of champagne. This small gesture captures the moment of peak enjoyment, while creating a uniquely personal relationship. It’s also likely that the guests will share their delight with friends, family, and potentially a wider internet audience.
A shareable industry with trusted, earned media.
The hotel industry is inherently shareable.
While traveling, people post ten times more than usual on social media. Not only are they more likely to post, but they're also more likely to geotag their experiences. This gives socially sophisticated hotel marketing teams more social content to get to know and engage guests with.
The goal of any marketing team is to prompt positive, free, and trusted endorsements. With the help of services like Echosec, this earned media praise is easier to achieve than previously thought.
Tools like Echosec offer insights which garner a deeper understanding of customers. This understanding gives hotels the opportunity to create an intimate, engaged relationship with customers, and a better guest experience. This is the kind of interaction required to gain highly cherished, positive earned media.
Integrating a social discovery platform into the marketing toolkit allows businesses to get to know their guests and what matters to them, while having faster and easier communication to improve guest experience. Ultimately, these engagements will prompt the lasting memories that translate directly into positive reviews and recommendations (and, thus, future business).