As technology within the hotel industry has evolved over the years, so have customer expectations. It is no longer enough to award loyalty points or offer exclusive amenities to reward club members and returning guests. Instead, people now expect their stay to include both personalized and customized considerations.
A recent study found that 78% of travelers are more likely to book with properties that offer personalized experiences, with almost 50% willing to share the personal data necessary to promote an individualized stay.
The millennial generation, in particular, has been vocal about its desire to seek experiences built specifically around their unique interests and stay with hospitality providers that accommodate their personal preferences.
Personalization versus customization
In today’s high-tech, hands-on world, customer expectations of the hospitality industry are higher than ever before. Today’s travelers want to book reservations online, where they can select their own amenities and make their own plans. However, they also crave a hotel guest experience suited to their individual lifestyles and needs.
To meet the expectations of these potential customers, hotel operators must create experiences that incorporate both personalization and customization. Although often used interchangeably within the hospitality industry, these are distinct concepts.
Personalization refers to the use of data and existing predictive technology to enhance the overall guest experience. This could include tailored emails about upcoming promotions, options for mobile check-in, or targeted upgrade offers based on guest history.
Personalization also encompasses the automatic addition of amenities or room configurations based on guest data. Because the systems are already in place for such scenarios, hotels that take advantage of these approaches give customers more personalized experiences at a minimal cost.
Customization at the micro-level
Customization is manual changes that reflect individual needs, not a system-wide approach. The guest or the hotel may initiate such changes. Examples include amenity add-ons and alternative choices for the guest’s stay. Because customization does not use data from existing guest profiles, it is a helpful strategy for attracting new customers.
Customization differs from personalization because it occurs at the micro-level. It is not administered at scale and is, therefore, not replicable for all bookings within a hotel. Instead, it is implemented on a case-by-case basis to meet the specific needs of a single guest or party. Ultimately, the use of customization provides a unique, enhanced experience that drives loyalty, making repeat business more likely.
Gathering relevant data
With the rise of online booking software, more guests are choosing to book their own trips. To offer guest-driven experiences and stay ahead of the competition, hotels must first understand what their guests want.
This means collecting data on stay history and personal likes and dislikes while adhering to guest privacy regulations. This is often accomplished via surveys, connections on social media platforms, or by seeking guest input.
The crucial role of data
Simply compiling data on customers and relying on artificial intelligence to enhance guest stays is not enough, however. Companies must be savvy in their use of this information. Options include establishing targeted marketing campaigns or offering promotional deals, unique experiences and exclusive amenities that appeal to varying segments of their client portfolios.
By customizing their packages and personalizing the guest journey in this manner, hotel operators can increase customer satisfaction and entice guests to return or recommend their facility to friends and family.
Creating a personalized experience
Along with offering customized packages or special room rates based on guest needs or desired amenities, hotels can provide travelers with optimized, individual experiences through a variety of methods.
Here are some of the most effective ways to promote personalized and customized services to guests:
Acknowledge their returning guest status and thank them for their loyalty.
Leave a personalized note or welcome amenity in their room.
Assign a concierge to help with any requests during their stay.
Provide special treatment options based on individual preference, such as room service menus tailored to dietary preferences or personal tastes.
Offer exclusive mobile check-in or check-out options as an added convenience.
Recommend activities or attractions based on noted guest interests.
Offer discounts for onsite amenities or shopping outlets the customer might enjoy.
- Stay up to date on relevant hospitality trends in 2023.
To ensure customization of the guest experience, a hotel must have systems in place to adjust its offerings according to consumer demand. This could mean creating packages based on the time of year or for special event blocks. Partnering with nearby businesses to offer exclusive deals or promotions tailored to meet guest interests is another approach to customizing a stay, as is the integration of premium subscription services like PressReader.
PressReader’s expansive library of newspapers and magazines is accessible both online and as downloaded content. Its customized “For You” catalog feed lets users choose the publications most relevant to their interests instead of relying on the hotel’s choice of newspaper or print magazines.
PressReader includes over 7,000 international publications, ensuring that readers will find something of interest in its catalog. Its add-on Radiant Access solution provides guests with access even after their stay.
Upload your content
Along with the customization benefit it affords guests, PressReader’s self-pub feature provides a similar functionality for hotels that purchase a subscription. Through the easy-to-use portal, a hotel can upload its own content for guest reference — newsletters, menus, and the latest specials, for example.
These features give a hotel another opportunity to enhance the customer experience and limit the use of non-digital materials, providing a healthy and environmentally friendly alternative to traditional print subscriptions. In addition, integrating premium services like PressReader makes hotel guests feel valued and, therefore, more likely to return.
Relying on reward programs and the occasional incentive is no longer enough to remain competitive in today’s hospitality industry. Today's travelers expect more.
To ensure satisfaction — especially for the travel-oriented millennial generation that seeks experiences built specifically for them — hotels must adapt their strategies to accommodate these diverse expectations.
This includes collecting and segmenting data to tailor offerings for their guests, as well as creating targeted marketing campaigns that appeal to varying groups of all demographics.
Personalization fosters customer loyalty
Travelers now anticipate hotel stays tailored to their individual needs, and many are willing to share personal data to achieve this type of experience.
By understanding what guests want and meeting these expectations through customized offerings and complimentary access to services like PressReader, a hospitality business can set itself apart from the competition and enhance guest satisfaction, prompting valuable return business and customer referrals.