Physical and virtual management of contact satisfaction in the hospitality industry.

The hospitality industry has to deal with contact center management. This used to be the place where multiple phone calls came in, but currently this is a ‘hub’ for organisations to store all their contacts and use different channels to maintain relationships. So, nowadays managing contact has been done via the internet. But what are the differences between physical and virtually in managing contact satisfaction in the hospitality industry?

Managing contact satisfaction is very important by means of the hospitality industry is a service sector and has to be in contact with customers all the time. In the hospitality industry there are two contact moments which is physical and virtual. The most important by online or offline contact satisfaction is to identity the relationship between satisfaction and the final behavior of the guests, which is hard to manage.

Virtual contact satisfaction
Virtual contact satisfaction is creating customer and managing guest satisfaction through online channels. Hotels make use of multiple virtual tools, these are e-mail, chat or social media.

Social media is mainly used to show potential or existing customers quality photos of the hotels rooms and facilities. But, it also provides contact between the guest and organisation, as nowadays people make use of hashtags, check-ins, reviews or chat functions. There are hotels like Mariott which uses Facebook to communicate with their customers and Hyatt and Hilton are using Twitter to as virtual concierge service. Simple one way conversation of “Enjoy your stay”, can improve the contact satisfaction. (Time, 2016)

Nevertheless, although it is very convenient to use social media to communicate with customers it can also be seen as unprofessional, expensive and time consuming. Ones a company starts to use social media as a contact satisfaction tool, it is responsible to react on (most) of the comments, questions, feedback or complains. Otherwise the hotel does not keep up with competition and can lose potential clients.

Email is still used by many organisations, and is one of the most common tools to manage contact satisfaction. Email comes in handy, as it is quick, because an email is send in seconds, and it is still formal. Moreover, email function can work with an automatic e-mail response and work with forms. Which make it convenient as it is structured and can possibly work with drop down menu’s and background questions to identify the question even better. Also the costs for sending an email are very low. (Peelen & Beltman, 2013)

However, hotels need to keep in consideration that there are possible inconvenient situations. Which makes email as contact satisfactory not pleasant. First situation can be that the send email will occur at the outbound e-mail, so the customer will not be able to read the email. Second, ones an email is not clear or the consumer needs extra explanation, there can be a back and for email conversation. Last is that people do not like to read general information which is not personal.

Another option is the chat, which is not always preferred but used by few hotels. Guest love the chat function as it is quick, interactive, personal and they can formulate their questions briefly. But more important this is informal, so customers can communicate in ‘speaking language’.

But for hotels this is expensive to buy and it costs lots of time as there has to be somebody every minute of the day to answers possible questions.

Physical contact
Physical contact sounds very old fashioned compared to the virtual contact moments. But in contrary, physical contact is all about the customer expectation. For instance, back in the days guest who entered the hotel where happy receiving hallo and a smile. While, currently people want to be satisfied. A satisfied customer can be found by extending a late check-out or a customized menu.

It all starts with delivering the promise you made. As a company you have delivered an image, a feeling, a promise. You as company have to make sure this message/promise is delivered correctly to the guest. Be consistent in what you tell the guest, do not spill details about how luxurious the hotel is if the facilities are not all functioning accordingly.

One of the most important factors about physical contact is let the guests vent. When a customer has a negative experience or a ridiculous question, let them speak. Make it clear for them that they can let their frustrations go to you (so they will not go to someone else). Do not patronize the guest but be helpful and understanding. At the end sum up everything what happened and come up with a plan how to improve the current situation. (Belcher, 2016)

This needs great listening skills, speaking skills and solution skills. Which not every person possesses. Hotels should train their staff to be competent in these skills, not only physical but also virtual as this is very upcoming and required in the hotel industry.

Continue reading Physical and virtual management of contact satisfaction in the hospitality industry.

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Tip for data mining and analytics; how to use in the hotel industry to create a competitive advantage.

The hospitality industry is one of the most know customer-centred businesses. Within this business a large amount of customer data is being processed. Data helps to deliver and understand the customer, the customer’s needs, wants, desires and wishes. Data mining is an automated process, which helps organisations to search through all the collected data to discover patterns and trends. (Magnini, Honeycutt, & Hodge, 2003)

Most of the data base systems used within the hospitality industry are the CRS (reservation), PMS (property), POS (sales) and loyalty programs. Here for data mining and analytics play a huge role within the industry. (Chamelian, 2015)

With the combination of these data, hoteliers can take action guest on a consistent level. With this information they can go beyond their traditional loyalty programs and understand the behaviour, choices and needs of a particular segment. This offers hotels the opportunity to identify opportunities and attract new guests. (Dragosavec, 2015)

The primary concern is the management of the existing data. This requires investments into different kind of systems, programs and hardware. And most important, trained and skilled staff who work on maintaining existing data. This is time consuming. Below some tips and tricks on use data mining effectively in the hospitality industry. (Magnini, Honeycutt, & Hodge, 2003)

#1 Match your IT priorities with an appropriate provider. See who can translate your data into valuable information.

#2 Build segmentation and predictive models. One consumer can fit into different segments. But building a suitable model and segment to fit in is key in the hospitality industry. Find a supplier who creates experienced models who strengthen the expertise of the IT department.

#3 Collect data to support the models. By collecting the accurate data, this input can lead to an increase in the value of the models.

#4 Select the appropriate tools for analysis and prediction. Instruments like genetic algorithms, neural networks and decision trees can be used for data mining in the hotel industry.

#5 Demand timely output. Check the output of the data as it varies far and wide.

#6 Refine the process. As datamining is an ongoing process it is key to continuously modify and refine the conditions of the inputs and outputs. Especially in a competitive environment.

#7 Hire a well-trained staff and a knowledgeable IT manager. It is very important for productive data mining that both the IT manager and the staff (management) are able to interpret the outcome of the data.

Moreover, there are also some limitation and boundaries to data mining. (Agganwai, 2015)

#1 Data mining analyses only data collected from existing customers. Data mining software does collect information about patterns from the guest loyalty programs, reservation and property systems. This technology does not provide information about segments which are not yet in the data base. As well information about the customers who are in competitor’s systems.

#2 Databases used in the mining process are often hotel-brand specific. Data bases do create prediction models that are brand sensitive. Marketing information can be useless if the hotel wants to predict customer demand (based on brand-portfolio).

#3 Data mining may not segment travellers by psychographic traits.  Personality distribution amongst travellers are not the main input for data-mining systems. Sometimes, psychological factors influence customer purchase behaviour.

#4 Data mining does not provide information about customers’ though process. Important for the organisation is to (within data-mining), ask the customers’ needs are and what the hotel (product/service) is about. Called: conducting in-depth conversation.

 

Continue reading Tip for data mining and analytics; how to use in the hotel industry to create a competitive advantage.

Relationship policy on life events in the hospitality industry

At the moment, hotels are using different marketing strategies to reach their marketing goals. These goals can be purchase, inform or to create awareness. Because the hospitality industry is a changing environment it is important to have a personalized, relationship focused marketing strategy.

To obtain this personalized strategy, many organisations are using the relationship policy in their marketing strategy. Relationship policy is a policy which helps to build a relationship in order to increase the value of the customer base. There are different ways to do this. (Peelen & Beltman, 2013)

The first way is to increase value is to select a relationship policy on by segmentation. Relationship policy by segment is two (or more) different segments which are compared to create a better relationship. Specific value proposition in terms of customization and pricing also, how the company will communicate to the customer are discussed in this policy.

Another way to increase the value of customer base, is relationship policy on life events. This takes the customers lives into account. Mostly by considering customers critical, meaningful and important periods. Hereby the company is looking into the customer’s life-cycle, to create a relationship to increase the value of the customer base. (Arthur Weissman, 2008)

Within the hotel industry it is important to have continuous communication throughout the guest lifecycle. “By knowing, it is anticipating what somebody needs and improving the merchandising experience.” (Skift & Revinate, 2015)

By applying this policy, not only the customer satisfaction is increasing but also the send per day raises. During their stay there are three moments which data, hotels collect by the booking, can be used:

The first contact moment. With the collected data, you can already see which type of activities they would like to do. A married couple will receive information via email in the weekend, included of special offers, weekend activities like wine tasting in the afternoon. When having a family staying over at your hotel, they can be notified if they need any extra facilities for the kids.

During the stay. With the same data, you can make sure that your guest has the ultimate experience. Provide the guest with small favors. You will make parents with children happy with a stuffed animal or a coloring book. Food lovers, love to take a sneak peek into the kitchen or have a wine pairing with the sommelier.

Moreover, a business traveler does not want to spend much time thinking about laundry, as he/she already has enough meetings planned during the day. Many hotels (like Hilton) have a laundry and wake up service to make sure the traveler is fully focused on their stay.

Also, there are many applications created, which hotel use, to give the guest full control over their stay. Virgin Hotels’ has an app which streams television, adjust room temperature or books spa treatments. Marriot also has a service app, that offers personalized offers, like spa, food and fitness deals.

After the stay. With all the collected data, you will make sure the guest returns to your hotel. Currently hotels send out email surveys for the collection of feedback. By knowing about the guest life cycle and activities done during his/her stay, a survey can be very effective. This make sure the guest feels special and unique. (Skift & Revinate, 2015)

To conclude, hotels do use the policy of relationship to increase customer base by building relationship. This has been done in three moments, before, during and after the stay. Also, there are many big hotel chains who already have an extensive relationship policy which operated great and creates a deeper bond with the guest.

 

Bibliografie

Arthur Weissman. (2008). HBR Hotel Business Review. Opgeroepen op September 24, 2016, van Hotel Executive: http://hotelexecutive.com/business_review/368/life-cycle-management-tools-for-the-hospitality-industry

Peelen, E., & Beltman, R. (2013). Customer Relationship Management. Edinburgh Gate : Pearson Education Limited .

Skift, & Revinate. (2015). The Changing Nature of Hotel-Guest Relations -. Opgeroepen op September 24, 2016, van Hotellerie Quebec: http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:http://www.hotelleriequebec.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/05/Skift-Revinate-Trend-Report.pdf&gws_rd=cr&ei=yljqV66SEoeSgAb8nb6IBg

 

 

The future of the hospitality industry: Customer loyalty

Everyday organisations are busy creating brand loyalty, this in order to let a customer show a kind or commitment towards the quality of a brand. As this reduces market costs, continues profit and creates a competitive advantage.

Many people ask the question if customer loyalty works to create brand loyalty. As many players in the hospitality industry copied the frequent-guest programs (FGP) from the airline industry, this is an upcoming phenomenon. (Tepeci, 1999)

A FGP/loyalty program is a reward program, which is obtainable for customers who do purchase a service or product at that company frequently. This can be coupons, rewards, (advanced) released products or customer free merchandises. (Power, 2015)

Nowadays there are many companies within the hospitality industry who do work with loyalty programs. This, to maintain and satisfy the customer. A few of the big players have implemented these frequent-guest programs into their business model.

Hilton HHonors-points, is a program which counts award stay with elite status. Moreover, points can be gained by staying at hotel, booking with credit card, travel, shopping and changing air miles into HHonors-points. (Hilton HHonors, 2016)

Hyatt Gold Passport, is a program which counts dollars spend to redeem towards, airlines, room upgrades or free nights. Including two elite tiers. (Hyatt, 2016)

Intercontinental: Points never expire; no blackout dates for award bookings; special promotions let you redeem as few as 5,000 points for some rooms. (InterContinental Hotels Group, 2016)

Marriott: Use 33 percent fewer points for hotels on PointSavers list; no blackout dates for award bookings; lets you pay for an upgrade in cash when you book a room with points. (Marriott, 2016)

Starwood: Cash-and-points program lets you make up with cash when you’re short on points; no blackout dates for award bookings; you can get a room for as few as 2,000 points. (Starwood Preferred Guest, 2016)

These customer loyalty programs are important to show customers appreciation, gratitude and show the interest in building a customer relationship.

Research has shown that within the hotel industry average a hotel spends around 35 – 50 million dollar for these loyalty programs. But, the eventual output is 80 + million dollar. Which makes it worth the investment. (Tepeci, 1999)

Moreover, the FGP’s create a separate segment. As you have collected per person special information, to make the next visit more personalized. Companies who are dealing with a proper loyalty program can make the customers wishes come true, without asking questions. This will create a faithfulness towards the brand.

Nevertheless, there are some points of improvement for this program. The FGP system is quite expensive to maintain. It costs lots of time and money. Besides, the frequent guest program users, are highly sensitive for deals and discounts. When competitors offer better prices, these clients will easily shift to the neighbours. Last, some researches show that immediate rewards work better than delayed ones. (Tepeci, 1999)

As explained, customer loyalty does contribute partly to the brand loyalty. As this offers a unique experience with all the customer preferred wishes. But on the other hand there many points of improvement.

For companies of the future, it is important to implement a suitable and well functioning FGP, as the industry is transforming into an experience industry. But even more important is to focus on brand loyalty, as not every guest will stay in your hotel because of the loyalty program.

Biblography

Hilton HHonors. (2016). HHonors-points overview. Retrieved September 18, 2016, from Hilton HHoners: http://hhonors3.hilton.com/nl_NL/explore/points/index.html

Hyatt. (2016). Hyatt Gold Passport. Retrieved September 17, 2016, from Hyatt: https://www.hyatt.com/hyatt/about/our-company/hyatt-gold-passport.jsp

InterContinental Hotels Group. (2016). Wat is PartnerConnect? Retrieved September 18, 2016, from Partnet Connect: http://partnerconnect.ihg.com/

Marriott. (2016). Marriott Rewards PointSavers. Retrieved September 17, 2016, from Marriott: http://www.marriott.com/rewards/marriottRewardsPointSavers.mi

Power, J. (2015). Hotel Loyalty/Rewards Program Satisfaction Report . Westlake Village.

Starwood Preferred Guest. (2016). Starwood Preferred Guest. Retrieved September 19, 2016, from http://www.starwoodhotels.com/preferredguest/index.html?language=nl_NL

Tepeci, M. (1999). International Journal of Contemporary Hospitality Management.