Imagine yourself: You are going on a trip to your favourite destination. You picked out a hotel of which you thought it would suit you best. When you enter your hotel-room, you see pictures of your family and friends on the wall. Your favourite music is playing as background-music, and the pillows on your king-size bed give you a neck massage to trigger a magnificent nap. An unexpected surprise, completely based on you. Personalized hotel rooms: it is the future of the hotel industry.
Ian Pearson showed that the hotel software is going to make it possible to have a personalized hotel experience from the first moment the hotel guest sets foot in the hotel room. All information is based on peoples’ social media profiles. Some hotels are already slightly active with the personalization of the hotel experience. Conrad for example, a part of Hilton, has a special app with which customers can personalize for example bath articles when they are in the park for jogging. Also the Regent Hotel in Hong Kong has a tablet with which guests can arrange their preferences for light, curtains and temperature. But this is all just the start (SkyScanner, 2015).
As you can see, the technology is changing rapidly. However, customers’ needs and demands are changing as well. Customers expect a personalized hotel stay. Everything should be based on them. Hotels can do this by practicing mass customization. Gilmore and Pine stated that mass customization is about customers who are providing unique information which can be used to tailor products to their specific needs and wishes (Peelen and Beltman, 2013). Gilmore and Pine divide this mass customization into four approaches: cosmetic customization, transparent customization, collaborative customization and adaptive customization.
In order to create personalized hotel rooms, different approaches of customization can be used. First of all, transparent customization. This means that only the products are adjusted. The representation stays in tact; It provides individual customers a unique service, without explicitly informing them that these products and services have been customized especially for them (Peelen and Beltman, 2013). Based on the social media profiles of the guest, the room can be designed.
Cosmetic customization can be used as well. With this type of customization, the product is the same but the representation is different. The Regent Hotel in Hong Kong is a good example of using cosmetic customization in their restaurant. They personalize napkins by stitching everyone’s name on it (Regent Hotel, n.d.).
Then adaptive customization offers one standards, but customizable product that is designed so that users can alter it themselves (Peelen and Beltman, 2013). Hotels can use this types of customization by considering the light systems. Each hotel guest is provided with a tablet in their room which can help guest program different effects for, for example romantic moments or quiet evenings of reading.
Lastly, collaborative customization, also considered as co-creation (Peelen and Beltman, 2013). Hotels talk to individual customers to determine the precise product offering that best serves the customer needs. This could for example be an early check in or a preferred type of bed.
All this together will result in a high profit and loyal customers. Hotels are building an emotional bond with their guests and consequently people will become loyal customers (Straker & Wrigly). The technology will surprise and maybe inspire the world. Wherever you travel to, you will feel like your home. But aren’t we going too far to create this personalized experience? We are living in a transparent world where everybody can see what we are doing, what we like and who we are. Is that really what travelling is all about? Traveling for me is to escape from the daily life, be unknown, and be inspired by all the beautiful things in the world. It is about not being placed in comfortable situations, but facing the reality. It helps you realizing and learning who you are. Is this future of the hotel industry not swiping away the real beauty of traveling? Many unanswered questions. A fascinating thought which is scary at the same time.
Peelen, E., Beltman, R., (2013), Customer Engagement Management, second edition
SkyScanner, (2015), “De toekomst van het reizen – 2024”, retrieved at 21 September, 2016, from http://www.skyscanner2024.com/
Straker, K., Wrigley, C., (2016), “Designing an emotional strategy: strengthening digital channel engagements”, Business Horizons, (59) p. 339-346
Regent Hotels & Resorts. (n.d.). About Regent | Regent Hotels & Resorts. Retrieved October 13, 2016, from http://regenthotels.com/corporate/about-regent