Customer expectations have evolved faster than ever. Here’s how technology can help you…

For years, hoteliers have been innovating to meet the changing desires and needs of customers. But COVID-19 has changed everything. As McKinsey & Company puts it, the crisis has transformed business forever. Digital transformation efforts, for starters, accelerated in the coming years in just a few months.

Technology has been a key player in accelerating innovation in the hospitality industry. But the industry is known to lag behind others in technology. One of the main reasons for the slow adoption of digital tools is a highly fragmented hosting industry, which means lots of discussions, approvals and integrations. However, to be competitive today, hoteliers must rely on connected technology, as guest expectations are rising and changing faster than ever before.

In this article, we’ll explain why an omnichannel guest experience needs to be at the heart of hoteliers’ strategy — and how technology can help hoteliers innovate and automate as they continue to grapple with the Great Resignation, l one of the biggest labor shortages. have seen so far.

Loyalty no longer means loyalty

Loyalty no longer means what it used to be. Over 75% of consumers have changed their shopping habits in the past 18 months, and research shows they are increasingly willing to switch brands. However, about two-thirds of traditional loyalty programs fail to deliver value, according to McKinsey, and many erode value. It’s safe to say that the COVID-19 pandemic has changed consumers’ relationship with points. As the hosting industry has had to adapt many facets of the business, the way we think about loyalty must also evolve.

Simply put, point-based loyalty programs won’t have the same appeal as they once did. Instead, hoteliers need to think outside the box and find ways to provide more instant gratification, whether through personalized offers, upgrades, amenities, and more.

Customer experience will be a differentiator

The hosting industry has always kept the pulse of customer experience. After all, customer experience is at the heart of hospitality. However, customer expectations continue to evolve. Consumers demand brands more than ever. This means hoteliers need to focus on the guest experience at every stage of the guest journey. It goes beyond on-property experience. The first impression guests have of a hotel is formed long before they walk through the front door.

And the data does not lie: the customer experience continues to be king. A recent survey found that companies that have made substantial investments in their customer experience over the past year are 10 times more resilient and three times more likely than their peers to have expanded their customer base in the past six months. .

How do you keep the pulse of the customer experience at every touchpoint? One answer is technology. Technology is the driving force to meet and exceed growing customer expectations. Hoteliers would do well to implement a guest experience management program. The data collected through such a program can give hoteliers the information needed to make business decisions to move a business or brand forward. Hoteliers need to know what guests want before they even have a chance to ask. Technology can help with that.

For example, hoteliers have data on what consumers will do at different times during their trip, and the data shows what they will typically ask for. A guest experience management program can help hoteliers understand trends, and then they can use that information to strengthen the guest experience at the right touchpoints. Ultimately, data-driven decisions are the best hoteliers can make for their business.

To make the fastest and most informed decisions, hoteliers need to ensure that their data across systems is centralized to be accessible from one place. This makes it possible to quickly share information with the teams that need it when they need it. Without an integrated platform, hoteliers cannot have an end-to-end view of the guest experience. They need to know where the friction is in the customer journey so they can fix what’s broken. Hoteliers also need to know where the opportunities lie to add value at touchpoints along the guest journey. Again, it’s important to remember that the guest journey doesn’t begin when guests walk through the hotel doors. It starts at the very first point of contact, often in the digital journey. Therefore, hoteliers need to ensure they deliver an authentic omnichannel guest experience, from digital channels like website and email marketing to on-site experiences and beyond.

For example, a recent Zendesk study shows that 65% of customers want to buy from companies that offer fast and easy online transactions. But hoteliers need to go beyond providing an exceptional single-channel experience. The customer experience needs to be good – and consistent – ​​across all channels, from website to app, booking experience, onsite experience, and everything before, in between, and after.

This means that just as hoteliers provide a quick and easy online experience, the on-site experience must be up to snuff. For example, customers cannot queue at the front desk to check in for 20 minutes. Likewise, they can’t wait hours for towels to be delivered to their room. Hoteliers can be as transparent as possible if their property is working with a small staff. Yet at the end of the day, minimum customer expectations must be met, particularly if the industry as a whole avoids cutting tariffs. Hoteliers who focus on building a foundation to improve the guest experience will be in the best position to succeed through the remainder of the pandemic and then after COVID.

Automation plays a huge role

However, the elephant in the room cannot be ignored. Hotels are also tasked with doing more with less as the Great Resignation continues to tear the industry apart. A record number of restaurant and hospitality workers are leaving the industry, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, and it doesn’t appear to be slowing down any time soon. To compound the problem, today’s workers are demanding higher wages. A recent study by the Boston Consulting Group found that wage growth of 7-10% can have a direct impact of 70-300 basis points on a company’s earnings.

This means that technology that allows hoteliers to automate what were previously manual processes will be essential for success in the future – both for cost and labor savings. Research shows that more and more companies are looking for automation. A McKinsey & Company global survey of 800 senior executives shows that two-thirds are increasing their investments in automation and AI more or less significantly.

So what can we really automate? Background functions such as manual data entry, data collection and reporting, customer-facing tasks such as guest registration, sending marketing communications, and responding to RFPs commercials are all listed. Today, many hotel operations processes can be managed through machine learning automation. In turn, teams can be freed up to multi-task and focus on delivering a great customer experience – which we know will be a differentiator for success as the hosting industry continues to navigate the pandemic.

Hoteliers can’t – and really shouldn’t – try to take the human aspect out of hospitality. But they also can’t compete if automation isn’t part of the strategy. Using a fully integrated technology solution can help save hours of work per week. Hoteliers must look for solutions that generate revenue and increase guest satisfaction while streamlining operations by automating mundane tasks that were previously handled manually by staff. In the past, hoteliers and hosts had to work with many different tools and vendors to achieve these goals. But more properties today are choosing a platform approach, partnering with a single technology provider that seamlessly integrates all the tools they need for reservations, distribution, payments, revenue management, marketing and customer experience in a single platform that has one connection and is always in sync.

Innovation is essential to success

If the pandemic has taught the accommodation industry anything, it’s that change can happen overnight. As more is learned about new and emerging COVID variants, hoteliers must remain vigilant and nimble, ready to adapt in a rapidly changing world.

Technology will play a key role in how quickly hoteliers adapt. It is important to seek partners who are constantly innovating. Remember that, like the industry, hotel technology should not be static. The hosting industry is changing more than ever, so technology needs to keep up. He must anticipate what will come next, not simply react to what is happening now.

It is also important to note that the issues facing the accommodation industry today, such as labor shortages and unpredictable demand, will continue as the pandemic spreads and the resumption of travel begins. The technologies in which hoteliers invest must above all facilitate their work.

About cloud beds

Founded in 2012, Cloudbeds is the hospitality industry’s fastest growing technology provider, serving global customers at more than 22,000 independent properties in 157 countries. Its award-winning Cloudbeds Hospitality platform seamlessly combines operations, revenue, distribution and growth marketing tools with a marketplace of third-party integrations to help hoteliers and hosts increase revenue, streamline operations and deliver memorable customer experiences. Cloudbeds was named the #1 PMS, #1 Booking Engine, and Hoteliers’ Choice by Hotel Tech Report in 2021, and was recognized by Deloitte’s Technology Fast 500 in 2021 and Inc. 500 in 2019. For more information, visit www.cloudbeds.com.

About Elizabeth Smith

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