What does a hotel, an airline, a food & beverage (f&b) franchise and Airbnb have in common? They may be more alike than you first thought. Hotels, airlines, f&b franchises and Airbnb all share many of the same issues – competition with lower cost, perishable inventory, customers purchasing in advance, and high demand.
These four types of businesses also all make use of their website, third party sites, and apps. And it’s essential for these businesses to track their competitors’ rates to maintain competitive edge. So whilst all these industries might appear to be quite similar, the hotel industry is miles behind in several key areas.Thankfully, there are some proven tips and tricks of these trades that the savvy hotelier can employ to provide a truly superior customer experience.
Be smarter with your data
Every guest appreciates a good deal – but if you don’t know what they actually value then how do you know what to offer? The best way to engage with guests is to know who they are and what they appreciate, and this can be done by collecting data. Domino's Pizza’s headquarters works hard on software and analytics to determine what their customers’ wants and needs are. The insights gathered from their rigorous data-mining and customer feedback has transformed their customers’ ordering experience – what was once a traditionally analogue ordering experience of phoning the store is now complemented by numerous online options to track and order, such as by voice on the Domino’s app, by text message and even by emoji. Domino's increasing digital footprint has not only provided them more in-depth information about their customers’ ordering preferences, it also provides more qualitative data about the customers themselves – allowing for more relevant offers, better customer experience and a share price that has outpaced Google, Netflix and Amazon in the past decade.
In the past, hotels used similarly analogue paper customer databases, and whilst most hotels have adapted to store their large databases electronically, some are still struggling with how to effectively use them. Having and making use of your database presents many opportunities for hoteliers – you can personalise the guests’ experience by easily tracking potential guest preferences. Whilst implementing this on a basic website may sound like a dauntingly advanced undertaking, intelligently tracking and tailoring offers to potential guests’ preferences is something Hotelchamp helps hotels of all sizes to achieve. Continue reading what we can do to personalise your guests experiences here.
Personalised guest experience
Hoteliers need to personalise their offers and there is no better example and more immediate threat than Airbnb. Airbnb personalises their booking experience as it’s a natural fit with their diverse inventory, but in comparison, hotels still struggle with personalisation. Airbnb prioritises that the guests’ experience begins even before their stay starts by making use of review metrics to pinpoint opportunities and guests’ general preferences, customising the holiday experience. For hoteliers, building a guest experience prior to their stay in the hotel is an easy fix. Hotelchamp helps you create an engaging experience with guests before they even arrive at your hotel. Hotelchamp has recently partnered up with TrustYou to bring hoteliers trusted reviews that integrate directly with your selected widgets on your hotel website, giving you a competitive advantage over Airbnb.
Avoid using fixed pricing
Many hotels today are still using a system that was created by Leland Pillsbury together with Marriott in the late 1980s. Hotels’ methods of yielding rates needs to be updated, especially given the evolution of hotel technology and the types of data now available. Hoteliers seem to prefer using pricing techniques that were successful decades ago, in a time when the global distribution system (GDS) handled the main part of the industry’s distribution. In a time where online travel agents (OTAs) didn’t have the power, they do now and Airbnb didn’t exist.
This tip might seem obvious, but cannot be overstated – you need look no further than the airline industry to see how they benefit from fluctuating rates. In today’s travel marketplace, consumers are aware and willing to accept that rates fluctuate. Don’t be afraid to use this technique to your advantage – your competitors are also changing their prices to accommodate the market.
Their stay starts on Facebook, not at the front desk
Guests have immediate access to their Airbnb host through mediums they use everyday, like Whatsapp, messages and social media. Hotels must engage more with their guests on social media to build engagement before their guests walk through the front door. This engagement should continue throughout their stay and even after the guest has left the property. Connecting with guests on social platforms provides valuable and cost-effective ways to remind them to rebook. Hotels aren’t just selling a hotel room – they are selling their guests an experience. Hotelier’s organic social content acts as an emotional trigger to remind guests of the memorable occasion they experienced at the hotel restaurant or spa.
Loyalty programs are about experiences, not points
Hotel chains and groups have set up loyalty programs that have thousands of members, but today’s loyalty currency has shifted. It isn’t about collecting points anymore, it’s about providing guests with a memorable experience. Continue reading here to see how some of the hotel industry’s biggest players loyalty programmes have changed in 2017.
Scarcity of supply
Scarcity refers to a limitation that is placed on a service or product with the goal to increase sales. Scarcity may result from a legitimate lower availability of the product but can also be used as an artificial limitation as a major marketing tactic. Because of guests’ fear of missing out on the product, it provides a very compelling reason to disregard other potential barriers to purchase. Airbnb and airlines use the technique of showing to their consumers that there is a scarcity of either seats or rooms available. Similarly, OTA’s have been very successful in using scarcity to their advantage but hoteliers have yet to fully embrace this technique.
Whilst the core business of delivering dough or planes of passengers is ultimately quite different to hotelier hospitality, there is still much to learn from what these industries do well. Hoteliers have the full potential to use all these lessons and start turning them into opportunities. If this sounds like a daunting challenge, it doesn’t have to be. Hotelchamp’s digital sales and marketing platform helps hotels of all sizes to improve their online guest experience. From identifying and tailoring offers to website visitors, to providing clever triggers and technology that seamlessly integrate with your site, Hotelchamp helps hoteliers bring their digital presence up to speed with the personalised hospitality that their hotels are famous for.
Are you interested in increasing your direct bookings by creating your own tools and having a clear overview of your data? Request a demo now!