The following statement of the hotel chain Ritz Carlton perfectly describes what is going on in the mind of the customer nowadays: ‘’Technology is great but there is still something special about a hand written note, customers love them.’’ (Vining, 2014)
On the other hand the current generation of travelers is growing up with all kinds of new technologies and expect real-time service of the hotel industry. However, this can have a negative effect on the personalised and more meaningful connection between hotel chains and their guests. To build such kind of relationships it is important to treat each guest as an individual. Despite of the growing impact of technology each guest is still looking for a truly authentic customer experience adapted to their own personal wishes and needs. (Solomon, 2015)
A good way of providing this is by having real conversations with your customers to find out what they want and what they expect? One way to create an authentic and personalized customer experience is by applying customisation. The options of customization are unlimited but always keep the customers’ preferences in mind. (Petruk, 2013)
According to Gilmore and Pine there are four separate approaches to supplying customisation which are named cosmetic, transparent, collaborative and adaptive. (Beltman & Peelen, 2013)
A good best practice of transparent customisation is the personalized coffee campaign of the Ritz-Carlton Naples Resorts. Via Facebook Ritz-Carlton asked their followers about their perfect cup of coffee. If you commented on this post and after that stayed at one of their resorts you would receive your perfect cup of coffee according your personal taste. Social media makes it easier to gather the customers’ preferences and because of that Ritz-Carlton can offer a range of variations on the standard product coffee inconspicuously yet precisely to their customers’ needs. (Beltman & Peelen, 2013)
Another best practice are the so called ‘’sleep menus’’ of the Conrad Chicago Hotel. A part of this programme is the ‘’Sleep Sound Machine’’ as a guest you can choose from pre-programmed sound selections. In this way the guest has the option of adapting the functionality and capacity of this particular product during use. So this is an example of adaptive customisation. (Beltman & Peelen, 2013)
The Sheraton Bratislava Hotel started a dialogue with an individual guest in order to assist them in formulating their needs. They found out that this guest is into photographing and likes to write blogs of her trips. So Sheraton Bratislava created a hand-made photobook of the most beautiful pictures of the city to fulfil their guests’ specific needs. This is a good example of collaborative customisation. (Beltman & Peelen, 2013)
According to the above mentioned best practices customisation can contribute to the engagement of customers to a specific hotel chain. The task of these hotel chains is to provide their guests with remarkable experiences adjusted to their personal needs and preferences. This will engage these guests to your brand due to a memorable experience and these guests will eventually become your ‘’free’’ brand ambassadors.
Beltman, R., & Peelen, E. (2013). Customer Relationship Management (2nd ed.). Edinburgh, United Kingdom: Pearson Education Limited.
Petruk, M. (2013). Customized Hotel Services: Is Personalization Really Necessary? Retrieved from http://www.4hoteliers.com/features/article/7600
Solomon, M. (2015). Your Customer Service Is Your Branding: The Ritz-Carlton Case Study. Retrieved from http://www.forbes.com/sites/micahsolomon/2015/09/24/your-customer-service-style-is-your-brand-the-ritz-carlton-case-study/#5eb987a81b8a
Vining, S. (2014). How Hoteliers Are Personalizing The Hotel Experience. Retrieved from http://hospitality.cvent.com/blog/charmed-by-hospitality-marketing/how-hoteliers-are-personalizing-the-hotel-experience