Source: customiseitnow, 2015
The Milestone Hotel in London is a 5-star boutique hotel, where nothing is too much trouble. All the guests are treated according the British way: with warm smiles and outstanding personalised service at every moment of their stay. The hotel definitely goes the extra mile and offers loads of “thoughtful touches” as they call it. The “thoughtful touch” that really struck my interest were the individually designed and decorated rooms. During the booking process, guests can fill out a form with questions on their favourite colour, taste in art, etcetera. According to their personal taste, they will get assigned a certain room, which will be decorated to the guests’ desire (The Milestone Hotel, 2015).
Yet, why do hotels put so much effort into tweaking their products to fit their guests’ needs? According to Prahalad and Krishnan (2008) the value of an organisation is based on the entire customer experience, not on the specific product offered. Thereby, creating unique experiences for customers will result in longer lasting relationships (Peelen and Beltman, 2013). So, it is safe to say that customers should be involved in the process of value creation.
There are countless ways to apply customisation, but in this blog I am just going to focus on mass individualisation. With mass individualisation customers get the opportunity to personalise the product within certain boundaries. It can be approached and therefore implemented in four different ways: cosmetic, transparent, collaborative and adaptive (Peelen and Beltman, 2013). These approaches are based on the way in which customers communicate their wishes to suppliers and how the suppliers respond to it.
* Cosmetic customisation: the product stays the same, yet its representation is adjusted
Previously, I already told about the personalised rooms of The Milestone Hotel in London, yet this isn’t the only way hotel groups implement cosmetic customisation.
Hotel groups already implement cosmetic customisation by offering their products in different locations or by selling their product to different clients with changing terms and conditions. In the end, the product stays the same, yet the representation differs.
* Transparent customisation: the product is adapted, yet not its representation.
With transparent customisation the clients are not explicitly informed about the changes that have been made especially for them. As a hotel, you just serve them their personalised product.
The Ritz-Carlton hotels use a very well designed database, in which they document their clients’ personal preferences. By doing that, they can customize the product to those specific needs during the client’s next trip (Pine and Gilmore, 1999).
It might be quite some work for hotels to start up a database, yet basically all you need is personnel that pays attention to minor details. For instance: which newspaper the client reads, which news station the television was on when they left their room or the room temperature and air-conditioning setting the clients used.
* Collaborative customisation: both the product and its representation are adapted.
In the hotel industry it is difficult to find an example of collaborative customisation, since the product (an overnight stay in a specific room) doesn’t change or can’t be adapted.
* Adaptive customisation: neither the product nor the representation is adapted.
An example of adaptive customisation might be offering guests the opportunity of a wake up call. At most hotels this already belongs to the possibilities, yet is it for the customer to decide if they want to use it.
So, once a hotel is aware of the different approaches of customisation they can implement their own ways and in the end attract or maintain more customers.
Peelen, E. & Beltman, R. (2013). Customer Relationship Management (Second Edition). Amsterdam: Pearson Education Benelux BV.
Pine, B. J., and Gilmore, J. H. (1999) The Experience Economy: Work is Theatre and Every Business a Stage, Boston: Harvard Business Press.
Prahalad, C.K. and Krishnan, M.S. (2008) The New Age of Innovation: Driving co-created value through global networks, New York: McGraw-Hill.
The Milestone Hotel. (2015). Our Service & Amenities. Retrieved on September 22, 2015, from The Milestone Hotel: http://www.milestonehotel.com/about/services-and-amenities
The Milestone Hotel. (2015). Thoughtful touches. Retrieved on September 20, 2015, from The Milestone Hotel: http://www.milestonehotel.com/about/services-and-amenities/thoughtful-touches