Richard Valtr, founder of property management system Mews, explains how hotels can engender guest loyalty through automation.
The hotel sector has seen an acceleration in the number of brands in recent years, with the global leaders now counting their flags in tens to save time.
Driving this is the need to fuel expansion and provide something which can meet every niche demanded by investors and guests. Long gone are the days when the customer took what they were given and liked it. Now you can have your life bespoke and hotel companies are trying to keep up. An impossible task? Yes, and one which risks brands suffering from an ever-decreasing shelf life.
Instead, hotels can create the perfect brand for every individual without the need to rip up the fittings every week. By automating hotel systems, staff can be free to work with guests to help them enjoy personalised stays and be flexible enough to meet their needs, with the added bonus of cutting costs.
Guests who have memorable experiences are guests who build trust, return and are delighted to spend again. Hotels are the places where people can take the time to be themselves without distraction and demands of their self-catered life. The hotel which can allow guests this freedom will create valuable lifetime loyalty.
With hotel staff no longer filling in forms, they can be creative and foster these experiences. As the rise of the creator economy attests, value can be created from pure thought and inspiration. If you have a committed creative network (and a creative hub aided by technology), you can take those ideas, expand on them and really expand the scope of creativity. In turn you build something which is greater than just the confines of a property’s walls.
Hotels need their guests to form memories and create attributable value, and this doesn’t come from filling in forms. If you can automate those admin tasks, then you can focus on the value. And the value can be in having an interesting conversation which sticks in the memory.
If you have a fantastic concierge or receptionist who has your attention, when the guest comes down in the morning here is the opportunity to upsell – to create a moment when loyalty is built. These moments are important. They create value in somebody’s life. The only thing that you go to your grave with is a collection of memories and how you’ve built them. That receptionist should go from being someone simply inputting data to one of your key revenue drivers.
With good technology, you can build the tools to help you understand your guests, build a trusting relationship and loyalty, and learn how to leverage this to attract similar customers. Sophisticated revenue and marketing tools can forecast expected business and customers based on booking and marketing data, and it may help you identify the highest potential value customers over time, allowing you to focus on retaining their custom.
Data can be gathered throughout the journey, both before, during and after the stay. Mews Operations allows staff to be flexible and accommodating when welcoming guests. Staff can sit down with guests, check in via tablet and discuss their plans for their trip. Meanwhile, pre-arrival emails leverage guest data and smart upselling tools for a more personalised guest relationship.
Automation can build the relationships with customers which the hotel sector has come to crave, a brand loyalty which can surpass the traditional concept of a hotel brand, driven more by physicality than service. Personalised, personal service no longer need be the domain of the luxury sector, but available for all.
The additional bonus for hotels comes for the staff themselves. Freed from tedious tasks, they can enjoy the autonomy to be truly hospitable and the more people are drawn to a sector which offers such creative rewards, the more the whole market will benefit and the more it will move away from accusations that cookie-cutter brands are devaluing us all.