A vision of the new connected guest experience
A vision of the new connected guest experience
The connected guest experience in the travel and hospitality industry has revolutionised the way customers interact with businesses, eliminating the hassles and enhancing the enjoyment of their journeys. Gone are the days of missed connections, room mix-ups, and payment glitches. The connected guest is now treated to a personalised experience that surpasses their expectations, with their preferences anticipated and met at every turn. While the benefits of a connected guest experience for customers are evident, companies in the travel and hospitality sector can also reap substantial rewards. Happier and more engaged customers translate into increased satisfaction and loyalty, enabling organisations to focus on meeting customer desires rather than just their basic needs. This article explores the advantages of a connected guest experience for travel and hospitality organisations and highlights the key areas where they can capitalise on this transformative approach.
The connected guest is one that has been liberated from the stresses and strains of travel and leisure: no more missed connections, lost luggage, room mixups, misunderstandings, or payment glitches. Better yet, the connected guest will be astounded to find that experiences are better than they expected and more to their liking. Perhaps their favourite beverage is on the menu or waiting in a room refrigerator. Special needs are anticipated and met – childcare gear for young parents or a mobility device for an older person, for example.
The benefits of a connected guest experience for the customer are clear. And for companies looking to deliver that experience? Happier and more engaged customers can be more rewarding for travel and hospitality organisations. With their needs more easily met, they can now focus on their wants. Here are some of the benefits for organisations.
Marketing organisations will want to prepare for a more intimate engagement with customers rather than the, at best, arms-length connections of the past. This means using information wisely. Greater customer intimacy also heightens the risk of missteps. So, marketing organisations must prepare their protocols, outlook and tools and techniques for a new world.
IT plays the most critical role in gathering and sharing information and making interactions seamless, natural, and stress-free – both with the customers and within the travel or hospitality organisation. Tech savvy skills will be more important than ever, but an instinct for the customer’s needs and wants – and for those of the organisation – will also be vitally important.
Human Resources will have an opportunity to engage and hone a workforce with more data than ever before, and with the certainty that only effective and motivated employees can successfully deliver the Connected Customer Experience.
Operational functions: Front Desk, Kitchen and Dining Staff, Cleaning and Maintenance personnel, etc. must also become part of the cutting edge of the Connected Customer Experience. Data about them and the effectiveness of operations and about the customer will make this possible and smart management will make them team players.
The role of Hyper-Integration is, of course, critical to the kind of business transformation required to not only enable connected guest and connected traveller experience, but to extract full business value from them.
IT leaders must work closely with the business and its partners to develop, align and digitalise capabilities and move past fragmented, disconnected and competing systems and priorities. Historically, integration has usually been limited, leaving out many business and technology capabilities of people, processes, analytics and data.
This lack of “Hyper-Integration” greatly limits the ability of executives to reduce the cost of technology, and constrains the ability of organisations to take advantage of initiatives such as connected traveller and connected guest.
What is Hyper-Integration? It is a modern approach to connecting the interactions of leadership, data, systems, analytics, processes and people in a single digital operation.
Connecting travellers and guests means that individuals can share and receive information needed to achieve an optimal experience for them and maximum business value for the company. This implies right-time and near-real-time communications. It must include connections across channels and touchpoints using existing IT capabilities, smartphones, and potentially IoT or systems on board vehicles, all operating seamlessly together to deliver currently defined services or products and to easily enable new services and products. This is the connected experience vision.
Some hypotheticals help illustrate the power and usefulness of delivering a connected experience.
Thanks to adopting connected traveller technology, guest services at a resort destination understand in advance that the arriving guest has just driven for 5 hours and is tired and thirsty. Knowing they are about to arrive, refreshing drinks are ready along with services to park a vehicle and move luggage. The guest’s preferences are understood – a savvy traveller who recently switched from another prestige destination — so meal and activity suggestions can be tailored thereafter to meet expectations for maximum satisfaction and to ensure resort profitability.
A European airline that serves regional hubs and also offers point-to-point services uses its growing knowledge of its connected customers and its systems to ensure that luggage for all members of the party is delivered at the same time to be ready to offer special meal options (a teen daughter is vegan), and to offer assistance in procuring accommodation or travel help at any point in the journey. When no vegan products are ordered, systems flag uncertainty about preferences and prompt a manager to engage in friendly conversations that elicit the information that the daughter has “moved on” to a macrobiotic diet.
A rental car company with branches and affiliates in 70 countries finds it can delight its connected customers by making past customer preferences and concerns available to each location. So, a frequent traveller who is an electric vehicle fan is able to find such a vehicle whenever and wherever he travels. And the rental company also notes an apparent tendency to get in minor scrapes – so encourages extra insurance.
A budget hotel chain wanted to attract more upscale customers with the addition of select amenities and incremental service improvements. Instrumenting operations and tracking, monitoring, and incentivising personnel was step one, and monitoring customer touchpoints and ensuring high levels of satisfaction was step two. Now, they have a profitable Five Smiles tier of customers happy to pay more for an upgraded experience, helping to boost the top line and disrupting local markets. The methods and habits have also enhanced the experience for traditional budget customers, sharply reducing unfavourable reviews.
The connected guest experience offers numerous advantages for both customers and travel and hospitality organisations. For customers, it means personalised and seamless interactions that exceed their expectations, eliminating the stress and frustrations of traditional travel. This heightened level of service leads to happier and more engaged customers who can focus on their preferences and desires. Travel and hospitality companies, on the other hand, benefit from increased customer satisfaction and loyalty, allowing them to build stronger relationships and drive business growth. To fully leverage the potential of a connected guest experience, organisations must embrace Hyper-Integration, connecting leadership, data, systems, analytics, processes, and people in a unified digital operation. Real-world examples illustrate the power of delivering a connected experience, from a tailored check-in experience and real-time customer responses to personalised experiences and driving sales through enhanced amenities. By embracing the connected guest experience, organisations can unlock a new era of customer-centricity and profitability in the travel and hospitality industry.
Read the rest of the creating a connected guest experience series:
- Top five ways marketers can embrace AI today
- Retail AI discovery workshop: How to create more value from your data – 6th December
- Xiatech and OneStock release first-of-its-kind 2023 Business Value of MACH Technologies Survey Results
- Celebrating a decade of success
- Mercaux partners with Xiatech to accelerate the transformation of physical retail stores into omnichannel destinations
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