Guest experience is everything

SPONSORED CONTENT: Hotels today need to understand their guests better than ever before to deliver the superior experience tech-savvy travellers expect. Frederick Sabty, vice president hospitality solutions, worldwide at Avaya, highlights how hoteliers are meeting for the challenge.
Guest experience is everything
Frederick Sabty, vice president-hospitality-solutions-worldwide
By This is Sponsored Content
Wed 20 Jul 2016 04:45 PM

For hoteliers today, delivering the right guest experience is vital: a positive guest experience is the main criteria travellers use to select hotels, far outweighing price and location.

If anything, a hospitality company’s biggest asset is not its properties - which may be leased - but its guest profiles. The problem is that with technology playing an ever greater role in every industry, guest expectations have changed fundamentally. The days when clean sheets and a well-stocked minibar were enough to ensure a satisfied customer are long gone.

Every hospitality brand, from the budget chains to top-end luxury hotels, is facing the same key challenge, namely how to obtain the right information from their guests that enables them to deliver experiences that will meet and exceed expectations - and upsell on those experiences and hence deliver greater revenue.

While hotels are turning to technology to help them service guests and enhance their experiences, too often these solutions are still disconnected, making it hard for hoteliers to properly compete in an environment where experience is everything.

The good news for hoteliers is that Avaya is redefining the customer service battleground for different industry verticals, including the hospitality sector. Avaya is helping hospitality companies today to deliver the superior and personalized experiences their guests expect, while creating upselling potential.

From customer service to experience agent

Just as a guest would no longer tolerate a rotary phone and a bulky TV set, customer service has had to move with the times — guests may initiate contact through a variety of mediums and channels, and they don’t want to receive different, fragmented experiences.

While a guest may be happy making a booking in the restaurant online via their mobile, if they want to ask a question or find out more information, the hotel should be able to seamlessly transition them to speaking with a customer service agent.  And every time the guest makes contact with customer services, the agent should know their history and be able to anticipate their requests.

Rather than guests calling the switchboard and being put through to different service locations, hotel apps should make it easy to click to talk to an “experience” agent, who has the guest’s information at their fingertips.

So a guest can order room service from a visual menu, book a massage or spa treatment and then reserve a place on an excursion, be that visiting a museum or swimming with dolphins. If the times clash, the experience agent will be aware of this and can suggest different options that ensure the guest gets the experiences they want — and the hotel maximises revenue.

With guest profiles being such a vital asset to hoteliers, it is hardly surprising they have invested heavily in loyalty schemes — helping them to keep hold of their favoured customers and to extract ever more information to deliver more personalised services and provide upselling opportunities.

The ultimate goal is to build continuous engagement with guests, ensuring that they stay happy, remain loyal and provide repeat business. Again, this gets harder as guest expectations evolve — chocolates on the pillow don’t really cut it anymore.

 

The magic bullet for hoteliers would be an app to drive that positive guest experience: one that smartly and contextually recognises the guest from almost before the moment they log in, prioritises them based on their profile, and maintains the engagement from booking through arrival, during their stay and after check-out.

The app could suggest different services for the guest during their stay, and can be used to push information to them  — for instance, a QR code could be sent to the guest’s smartphone allowing them to bypass check-in, and go direct to their rooms. The app could deliver information about promotions and offers available in the hotel, and third-party services could also be hosted, making it a value-creation mechanism for the hotel.

This would also allow hoteliers to gather even more personal information from their guests, with the customer experience agent having even more knowledge about guest needs at their fingertips — allowing them to provide a better, more personalised service.

Of course, personalised service should always come with an emphasis on the personal. Hoteliers need to remember that whatever else gets automated, one key element is always going to remain human — the guest. While many guests, especially but not exclusively younger people, are going to be as or more comfortable with using apps and mobile devices to initiate contact, that isn’t going to apply to every person staying at a hotel.

Many guests still like to have a traditional in-room phone as their main point of contact with customer service — they just may not be especially pleased about getting traditional levels of customer service, such as the switchboard not being manned 24/7. Hotels can still meet their needs, with in-room devices that can deliver as much functionality as is needed.

Avaya is focusing on helping hotels of all sizes meet these challenges head on. Avaya specialises in customised, integrated solutions that can help hotels provide each guest with a memorable, enjoyable experience from the time they begin to plan their trip until after checkout.

For more information, please visit www.avaya.com/emea or e-mail: fsabty@avaya.com.

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