According to Prahalad and Krishnan (2008), customers base the value a company holds for them on the personal, unique experiences with the products and services that the company provides. When a company has created such a unique experience for its customer, a close and personal relationship arises between that customer and the company; the customer will trust the company and will be less likely replace the company, while the company is able to build up customer knowledge (Peelen & Beltman, 2013).
In order to create a personal and unique experience for the customer that leads to a relationship as described above, the way the customer is being involved with the company is very important. There are several different ways to involve the customer. One of these ways is called co-creation. Co-creation implies that multiple people or parties contribute to creation of a new product or service through an innovative network or platform that is focused on learning and experimentation. Co-creation pays attention to the needs and the desires of the end-users and not to the technology or other parts of the production process (Peelen & Beltman, 2013).
Since the most important thing in the hotel industry is the interaction with the hotel guests, this industry is an ideal environment for co-creation. Hotels that would implement co-creation, could gain a real advantage compared to their competitors. However, the majority of the existing attempts at co-creation in the hotel industry are more forms of marketing combined with customer engagement than actual value co-creation (Gramm, 2015).
There are several examples of hotels that are attempting co-creation. Starwood has its Mariott Travel Brilliantly initiative. This is an online platform that gives guests the opportunity to submit ideas and to vote on other guests’ ideas. However, this is more an online suggestion box than an on-going collaboration with the end-users to create value. Another example of a co-creation attempt is the Klaus K Design Hotel in Helsinki, Finland. They organised a completion in which they invited guests to come up with new ideas to transform their lobby and bar into an information hangout space. This attempt as well is more based on an individual sending in his or her ideas, than on an on-going collaboration (Pieters, 2015).
However, the attempts of hotels described above are not actual co-creation, but more examples of customer relationship management. The hotel industry has to come up with a way in which it is made possible that there is an on-going and productive relationship between the hotel and the end-users. This relationship has to be more than the guest giving suggestions to the hotel; the guest has to be involved in the whole process of creating the ultimate hotel stay. Only then it is possible to create the perfect experience for hotel guests.
Gramm, G. (2015, November 5). Value co-creation in hospitality – a transformational challenge. Retrieved September 24, 2016, from http://ehotelier.com/insights/2015/11/05/value-co-creation-in-hospitality-a-transformational-challenge/
Peelen, E., & Beltman, R. (2013). Customer Relationship Management (2nd edition).
Pieters, M. (2015, January 8). Co-creating the Hospitality Experience – TheCoCreators. Retrieved September 24, 2016, from http://www.thecocreators.com/co-creating-the-hospitality-experience/