Every product has its own features and should therefore be offered on its own way. Many products are manufactured on a large scale, think of groceries, cars or a certain service. The productions costs of these products will be the most profitable if it is ‘much of the same’, and the same also counts for the hotel industry. Imagine that hotel rooms, lobbies and hotel restaurants will be customized completely to the specific wants and needs of certain customers. This wouldn’t be realistic, but there can still be some changes in the products of hotels and much changes in the representation.
According to Gilmore and Pine, there are four forms of mass customisation, and the trick is to create the right mix of these forms under the right circumstances. The different forms will be explained by examples in the hotel industry
The first approach is cosmetic customisation, which means that the products does not change but the representation does, which includes packaging, sales, promotion and product’s name. This could be the same hotel room but, sold at a different price or in a package combined with breakfast (Peelen & Beltman, 2013)
Another form is transparent customisation. It means that there are changes in the product, like the hotel rooms but it is not shown in the representation. Imagine a hotel has its own loyal customers who come to the hotel often and the hotel knows what these customers want. For example; extra towels, house keeping between 11:00AM and 12:00AM, or a certain type of breakfast served on the same time as usual. The hotel is not showing this extra effort but simply knows what the customer wants. (Peelen & Beltman, 2013)
A third approach is collaborative customisation. This involves changes in both the product and the representation of it. The customers will be exposed with ‘extra service’ or changes as how the customers prefer. Think of a welcome gift, with the name of the customer written on a card in the room. (Peelen & Beltman, 2013)
The last approach is adaptive customisation: neither the product or the representation of it hasn’t changed at all. It could be the standard product which is designed on a way that the customers can adapt it to their own preferences and needs. For example; a standard type of room, which includes a fan and an air conditioner. The customers have the opportunity to adapt it themselves if they want to. (Peelen & Beltman, 2013)
But how does the management of a hotel know what the the right strategy is? A combination of the four strategies is the best for a certain hotel depending on the market segment, mission and vision, budget and adaptability of the hotel. To end with an example from one of the most known hotel groups, the Hilton.
According to Hilton Hotels, customisation is one way to build customer trust and loyalty. They have been using a mixture of approaches that have suited them the most. A brochure with the following text could be found on a room of Hilton’s: “Simply select the breakfast that’s right for you, and follow the colour chosen on the Hilton Breakfast buffet. We’ll do the rest – you’ll find that our buffet offers the widest choice of fresh and premium quality product imaginable.” (Caroll, 2008)
Caroll, B. (2008, January). The Marketing of Customization: Hilton Hotels. Retrieved September 24th 2017, from Customers Rock: https://customersrock.wordpress.com/2008/01/12/the-marketing-of-customization-hilton-hotels/
Peelen, E., & Beltman, R. (2013). individualisation of the product offering. In Customer Relationship Management (2 ed., pp. 214-219). Harlow, United Kingdom: Pearson Education.