All we hear about are stays, experiences, personalized services to offer guests of b&b or small hotel. But also to the customers of holiday homes, room rental and even camping.
A quick online search is enough to find thousands of articles on this topic (including those published on our blog). There are numerous events, conferences, Italian and international tourism fairs, during which experts and industry professionals talk about personalization and explain how to carry it out.
Two strategies are often proposed: the collection of customer data necessary to target them and, therefore, to personalize the proposals, and the technologies for hotels and hospitality structures that automate the processes.
At this point, it is inevitable to ask:
Is personalization of accommodation services just a cliché or is it really a trend in the travel and hospitality sector?
This article aims to answer this question. And show that you can and must personalize. Often people have no idea what personalized services are.
What is and what is not a personalized service
In general terms, the personalized services are part of the stay package that hotels, B & Bs and other hotel structures offer to guests in order to respond to the new way of traveling for global tourists.
Nowadays the customer is a digital traveler able to organize his own vacations and want to live an unforgettable travel experience.
Inevitably, guest satisfaction depends on a different, and indeed personalized, offer.
But what does it really mean to personalize? We explain it through some simple examples that show how often there is a big difference between what many operators in the sector believe is a personalized stay and how it is actually perceived by the customer.
What the personalized services are not
- Messages that say “Welcome. How is your room? ” Are not a good way to start customizing the customer’s holiday. This type of communication is the classic example of impersonal text. Furthermore, it is also useless, because it is not formulated to respond to it.
- An e-mail with an endless list of attractions and places to see in the area. Sending all the customers the same list with the zoo but also the nightclubs, regardless of whether it is a family with children or a group of Millennials, is proof that you do not know your guest at all.
- Phone calls during the stay to ask the customer how the holiday is proceeding. The call is often perceived as intrusive, whether it is a guest traveling for work, already very busy, or a honeymoon couple.
- Tickets in the room with the words “Thank you for your loyalty”. At that point the customer will think that you could have done something more to improve his stay, knowing that he is so fond of it.
- The room service attendant who, when asking for permission to enter, does not show a minimum of empathy, while he could greet the customer by surname and wish him good evening.
- No alternative proposal for breakfast, despite being a loyal customer, business that checked in very late and asks to check out at dawn.
- Ask what services are available in the accommodation and hear the answer “the SPA”, which however closes before the customer’s return to the facility. If your services are intended for a specific target of guests but then they are available at non-functional times to that same target, what is the point of proposing them?
What are personalized services
- A push notification sent by the same receptionist who handled the check-in who inquires about how the stay proceeds. A push message on the smartphone is not as intrusive as a phone call. If, moreover, it is sent in the name of the same receptionist known to the customer, by virtue of the relationship already established, the guest will be encouraged to respond. Read here if you want to know how to send push notifications to guests.
- A customer who has checked in late and in the morning will leave before breakfast, report the nearest bars open at that time or the facility’s coffee and snack vending machine.
- Keep a bulky object that a customer who often returns in a year would prefer to avoid carrying around with every trip, such as sport or work equipment.
- The spontaneous questions of the staff about how the holiday proceeds, which also shows interest to the answers!
- For loyal customers, having always assigned the same room.
- Recommendations on what to see, do, where to eat at destination through automatic tools that are more effective than tons of e-mails. As a geolocated map for smartphones with the advice of the host visible within the app of your accommodation. Creating it is easy. For example, you can use our Edgar digital concierge and in a few minutes have a personalized app for each managed property.
- Not everyone can offer customers to do yoga on an elephant or a recording studio for musicians. But even small hotels and non-hotel operators can provide guests with authentic experiences to satisfy their desire for excitement. If more accommodations want to take advantage of this opportunity to increase earnings with up-selling, they must propose them effectively and not just report them. For example, guests of the accommodations that use Edgar find hundreds of experiences at the destination on the app, including those of partners, and can buy them on the phone, thus earning a commission for each transaction.
How to offer true personalized services
From these examples, it clearly emerges that truly personalized services have something extra: they adapt to the real circumstances in which the guest finds himself and have that human touch, made of spontaneity and cordiality, necessary to empathize with the client and involve him in communication.
Of course it is not always feasible to dedicate so much courtesy to each guest, especially during the high season.
So how can you offer truly personalized services? You have to use a mix of tools and strategies:
1. Technology for accommodation facilities
Hotel and non-hotel technologies are indispensable for personalizing services, but not enough! Without them you will not be able to survive in a competitive sector such as the receptive one.
Software and digital concierge have two great advantages:
- they save work time. In this way you will have more opportunities to dedicate to customers personally, without haste and add that touch of empathy that makes a stay truly personalized and your guest satisfied. For example, through our digital concierge for non-hotel and hotel, Edgar, you can automate the check-in. The customer inserts the document and personal data from home. And you just have to download the file to be sent to the alloggiati portal saving work time. At the reception you can ask the customer a few more questions rather than waste all the time with the registration.
- offer customers the most popular digital tools. Do guests prefer messaging rather than receiving phone calls? If you use Edgar Smart Concierge, you will have a dedicated channel to communicate with each customer via smartphone and send push notifications. In this way, you will be sure that your guests have received all important communications, stored and filtered on your extranet. You can send personalized messages during their stay to check their satisfaction. You will not be intrusive but always present and reachable. And you will have to resort to the classic phone calls only in case of serious problems!
2. Data analysis
Data analysis is also necessary to personalize, but not enough.
Use customer data to target them and better understand their needs. This way, rather than sending them long generic emails with endless lists of points of interest, you can select the right travel experiences and attractions.
The more data you have available on customers, especially loyal ones, the more you can customize your offer. Edgar also provides you a useful collection of insights on how customers use the personalized app of your accommodation.
3. The human touch
Spontaneity and courtesy are the added value of a personalized stay. Never forget that customers are people.
Technology today makes so many things, from robots to the Internet of Things. Make the most of it to give yourself more time to dedicate to the customer and offer him digital services that are now part of everyone’s life.
But never forget to ask the guest one more question when you meet him in the lobby, at the reception, to call him by name, to give him advice not required to improve his stay.