Social listening is the first step of digital arena success for the Hotel industry

Nowadays businesses want to get more serious on social media while the customer is online and willing to talk. Online communities are an attractive tool for business to use in order to use platforms for co-creation of experiences between companies and consumers to truly become partners of brands. (López, 2016)  ‘They provide consumers with access to organisations and can significantly affect the revenues and cost structure of an organisation.’ (Peelen. 2013) Customers want to be heard and success and failure is closely related to each other. (Youtube, 2016). Besides choosing the right platform and developing a multimedia channel strategy, it is important to listen to the customer. Therefore social listening is important.

Social listening is monitoring analysing a digital conversation in order to understand what a customer is saying about a brand. Dealing with reaction of guests in a proper way can cause positive brand image and long lasting relationships and engagement. According to Tripadvisor 85 % of users agree that thoughtful responses of hotels improve the impression of the hotel. (Park, S. Allen, J. 2013)

Online reviews have transformed consumer decision making in the hospitality industry.96 % of the Tripadvisor users consider reading reviews before trips to book a hotel. Moreover 83% of the users usually or always reference reviews before deciding to book a hotel.  For the hotel industry the booking of a hotel is mainly influenced by reviews of other people. 79 % of the Tripadvisor users read 6 to 12 reviews before deciding on a hotel booking. Moreover it influences the expectations guests have before going to a hotel. Unfortunately hotels are not able to control what people write about a brand. Therefore it is crucial to control and manage the reviews and reactions in a proper way.(Park, S. Allen, J. 2013) (Tripadvisor, 2015)

There are different ways of controlling social media reviews. One way is human analysis of online conversations which gives a better understand how and why customers are talking about a certain subject. However, this method is quite expensive. Another tool for online listening is the creation of brand owned forums which encourage customers to talk to each other about experiences.(Park, S. Allen, J. 2013)

Before implementing analysis systems of forums it is important to have internal in a hotel brand a proper management and team who and how is in charge of reacting and reading the comments. While the hotel industry is large and consists of many different types of hotels and scales, an example of three approaches to online reviews are presented.(Park, S. Allen, J. 2013)

Research shown that well known four star brands in general use the conservative approach to online review responses. An online review specialist summarizing online review content which is shared to managers, sales directors and operations directions at the individual hotels.(Park, S. Allen, J. 2013)

Another approach used in general at international luxury brands is the role of general manager’s play in the reviewing of social media. General Managers pays attention to the ranking provided by online monitoring service and compering this score for hotel’s ‘brand engagement’ with a competitor set. Moreover often there is an internal social media team who is responsible for responding on online reviews who come directly from the hotel’s general manager.(Park, S. Allen, J. 2013)

At L’Hermitage Hotel in Vancouver, general manager Glenn Eleiter respond to review posts personally. However, he mentioned that he believes every staff member and manager is a major player regarding reputation management. The Cavendish London hotel, managing director Ciarán Fahy aligning social media activities with sales and marketing, revenue, F&B and human resources. She mentioned that working as a team built strong presence online. (Reviewpro, 2012)

The strategic approach is used in order to engage with the customer and ongoing relationship. This approach also uses online review information to improve operational efficiency and effectiveness to create innovative service offerings.(Park, S. Allen, J. 2013)

Social listening is extremely important in the decision making process of guests. Before hotels can react in the proper way to social media comments of guests, the internal organisation of social listening should be well arranged. By combining the strategy of strategic approach with the approach which is suitable for the hotel, customer engagement and social listening is achieved in a successful way.(Park, S. Allen, J. 2013)

 

Sources:

López, M. Aguilar, S. (2016) Creation in Virtual Brand communities. In online Brand Communities. Springer International Publishing.

McCarthy, I. (2013). Social media? Get serious! Understanding the functional building blocks of social media. Youtube Retrieved from; https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BCjCbqYs_j0

Park, S., Allen, J. (2013) Responding to online reviews problem solving and engagement in Hotels. School of Hotel Administration. Sage Journals.

Peelen, E., & Beltman, R. (2013). Customer relationship management. Pearson Education Limited.

ReviewPro. (2012). For Hotels, Winning at the reputation management game means taking a team approach. Events, Hospitality Industry news.

Tripadvisor.(2015). 5 Tips Inspired by Our New Traveler Survey. Tripadvisor insights. Retrieved from; https://www.tripadvisor.com/TripAdvisorInsights/n2665/5-tips-inspired-our-new-traveler-survey

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How hostels are a good example of cross-selling in the hotel industry

Cross-selling in the hotel industry is an important element, while it helps in building a long-term relationship with the guest. Due to the fact that there is a large difference between hotel brands and types of hotels, there is a large difference in cross selling.

Cross selling is the sale of products to customers who already purchasing one or more products from the supplying company. In the case of hotels the product is the booked hotel room and cross selling can defined as adding services or facilities to the room or experience of the guests. (Peelen, 2013)

There are different possibilities for cross selling. Cross selling over time is if a customer is buying more than one of the same product during a contact or at a later time. Furthermore cross-selling can be done within the product range if a customer buys another product in the same product category. In the case of the hotel industry, this is noticed in the loyalty of guests who book more often at the same hotel brand in a period of time. (Peelen, 2013)

It is important to indicate the probability of the customer with a certain product history and certain profile possess the product. This can be done by compiling a list of the people to be approached for the cross-sell of another product category. (Peelen, 2013) Before this list can be compiled it is important to have the necessary data of the customer. ‘The deeper the understanding we have about our customers and our products, the better we can connect with them.” (S. Direction, 2012). Moreover the right data can help knowing what the customer want to buy before they know it their selves. (Raconteur, 2016). Due to the fact that hotels often have good insight in the data of loyal customers, the probability of customers can be measured well.

There are two different approaches in which cross selling activities can take place. The first approach is drawing customers ‘attention to another product from the range during customer contact. This can be done if the ‘probability’ exceeds a minimum level to determined later. Besides the minimum level, the context and content of the conversation is important.  The second cross selling activity is approaching existing customers with other products from the range. (Peelen, 2013) For the hotel industry the first approach is most useful, due to the fact that the hotel industry is offering besides the product of ‘a room’ intangible products as well.

It seems that if hotels have loyal customers it is easy to cross sell their products.  Loyal guests are more willing to try different products or book for instance a more luxurious room for special occasions. But what about hostels? For these types of hotels it is maybe even easier to cross sell their products. Hostels have the advantage that the image is more ‘basic’ and therefore customers have lower expectations. Due to offering a basic room, it is easy to cross sell other products. For instance a private bathroom or instead of a dorm room a private room. Customers are probably more willing to spend a little more for these types of products compared to cross selling an entire luxury room or an expensive spa treatment. Furthermore in general hostels have a good way of marketing and cross selling method due to offering this during the process of booking. For instance on website options are offered to add ‘products’ such as the private bathroom. Another example of a hotel brand who is cross selling in a good way is Ibis. The concept of Ibis is actually cross selling. At Ibis hotel it is possible to add facilities for more comfort. For instance a larger bed, a balcony and air-conditioning. (Ibis, 2016)

Due to the importance of cross selling in order to build a long term relation with the guest, it is important for hotels to have a good cross selling method. Hostels have a different cross selling method due to not having the ‘all in one’ facilities of the product. While they offer this products separately to the customer, customers will be more aware of the products the hotels offer, which is important for engaging the customer.

 

Sources:

Direction, S. (2102). Big data needn’t be a big headache. How to tackle mind-blowing amounts of information, Vol. 28 Iss: 8, 22 – 24

IBIS. (2016).  Retrieved from : http://www.ibis.com/nl/hotel-1153-ibis-den-haag-scheveningen/index.shtml

Matthews, D.(2016). How connected data is targeting consumers. Raconteur

Peelen, E., & Beltman, R. (2013). Customer relationship management. Pearson Education Limited.

 

 

 

Customer journey mapping in the online hotel world

Nowadays, the online hotel industry concepts are rapidly growing trend.  The concept for instance to sleep at a strangers home, instead of staying at a actual hotel. The image of creating a home away from home gets a new perception in the world of hospitality.  Currently it is trending to stay at unique locations in order to have a unique experience. Therefore customer journey mapping is changing as well.  It goes beyond offering Wi-Fi or large number of international TV channels. Therefore elements should be added on the customer journey in order to keep up with the trends and future of the hotel industry.

Before adding elements to the customer journey, the theory of customer journey mapping should be clear defined.  Customer journey mapping is the process of knowing what is happening to the customer every step of the way.  From researching hotels to checking- in and the departure of the hotel guest is the process of customer journey mapping in the hotel industry. Knowing what is happening to the customer every step of the way and importance of identify the guests can be done by developing personas.  Moreover the touchpoints of interest of each step of the journey. In this way each persona can be served by their specific needs. That’s what it is all about nowadays, getting more personal in a way where is shown that you know your guest.  (Abraham, 2013)

There is a large importance in the hotel industry of cooperating with the separate departments within the hotel regarding customer journey mapping. While online hotels do not consist of departments, it is important to understand the touchpoints of the guest and provide the right service applied to this touchpoints. This can be called an innovative way of customer journey mapping due to the fact of growing online hotel industry. (Buhalis, 2014)

Airbnb can be used as an good example for innovative customer journey mapping. Airbnb’s Talent Acquisition team is ensuring that there is ‘belong anywhere’ along the customer journey. The company has designed two types of storyboards, one for the host and one for the guest. In this way personas are created in an innovative way because it is based on stories. Moreover it forces the company to think about the whole experience and it makes key stages more clear. The model above shows the key stages, but are this the key stages when finding the touchpoints of the customer? Maybe the guest is thinking at home already of there is Wifi and tries to find it on the website, but cannot be found on there. (Greenhouseblogs, 2015)

The key principles of the storyboarding follows different steps. First it is important to define critical moment that are universal. Secondly don’t let reality get in the way and the final principle is be true to the customer/ candidate, so think about what they want. So instead of thinking in how questions, first focus on what questions. (Greenhouseblogs, 2015)

The hotel industry has a far development regarding emotionally bonding, it is important to have an emotional role which pull the customer in. But how to get emotional with your customer if you don’t even see them? Online hotels have the power to emotionally connect via social media or digital channels. (Straker, 2016) ‘Developing relationships with large numbers of different customers can only be achieved if information and communication technology are used’ (Peelen, 2013)

 

Airbnb found out that 53 percent was not a host or a guest of the company.  Recruiter communication is the most important touchpoints while this were potential users. This can be called the candidate experience and was directly impacting the company’s bottom line. (Greenhouseblogs, 2015)

It seems like a large challenge to customer journey mapping in the right way for online hotels. However, this industry has a huge advantage of the digital customer journey and mapping this in an innovative way gives the opportunity to get to know the guest more personal with the customer then ever.

 

Sources:

Abraham. (2013). Journey Mapping Helps Organize Around Your Customers. CMS WIRE. Retrieved from; http://www.cmswire.com/cms/customer-experience/journey-mapping-helps-organize-around-your-customers-020795.php

Dent. (N.K.) Customer Journey Mapping: The Experience Matters To Airline Customers Just As Much As The.

  1. Peelen. (2013). Customer Relationship Management (2nd edition),

Greenhouseblog. (2015). A symbol of belonging https://www.greenhouse.io/blog/how-airbnb-used-storyboarding-to-revamp-its-candidate-experience

  1. Straker. (2016).  Designing an emotional strategy: Strengthening digital channel engagements. Business Horizons. Volume 59, Issue 3, , Pages 339-346

Professor D. Buhalis. (2014). on critical Technology and Marketing developments – eTourism futures: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mrha2nS76Hc

Raconteur. (2015). Customer Equity: brands are still getting it wrong

 

 

Using data of hotel guests leads to a higher personalization and customer engagement, high tech versus the traditional approach

Over the past two decades the focus shifts from transaction of sales into the importance of customer relationship management. This relationship can take place at different levels. Long term relationships are based on commitment, trust, fairness and loyalty. (Peelen, 2013). The hotel industry has a rich history with engaging the customer and creating long lasting relationships. Nowadays, the concept of creating a unique experience for the guest by personalisation is becoming more important than offering the best price in the hotel industry. The most crucial aspect of personalisation is gathering data of the customer. In this way the travel behaviour of the customer can be understood. Customers do not mind to share information about themselves to get more personal. (Eason, 2016)

Smaller scale hotels have the opportunity to create personalization in the traditional way and time to spy their guests. For instance, observing what type of magazine the guest is reading. Besides observing, it is possible to achieve personalization by getting in contact with the guest at suitable times. For instance during breakfast.  (Mcaplin,2014) The Four season’s hotel for example gets personal with their guests by offering the choice of three mattresses of varying levels. (Mcaplin,2014) Furthermore, service can play a crucial role in order to create personal experiences.  For instance, offering guests what colour light they prefer in their room or offering the choice of different shampoo brands, towels or other toiletries.  The Langham place in New York offers the service to press their clothes for their guests. Thoughtful gestures create lasting relationships. (Mcaplin, 2014)

Another way of engaging by personalization in the hotel industry is using technology, which is more applicable to larger scale hotels. ‘It has become paramount for businesses to use technology to engage consumers in a more personal way'(Pine and Gilmore 1999). For instance, when a guest turns on the TV in the hotel room it shows the preferences channel. It can even become crazier by offering the guest to finish a movie in the same hotel brand but located in a different city. (Mcaplin,2014)

The hotel Lugano Dante, a large scale four star hotel located in Switzerland, uses the HGRM- Happy guest relationship management system. This system constitutes a comprehensive customer relationship database, which includes a meta-platform that combines different hotel operation systems. It merges different data from different systems, such as Fidelio, outlook and MyPage. The HGRM personalizes in the different stages of the customer journey. In the pre-arrival stage, the guests receive an invitation to access their personalized guest website MyPage. The guest can share personal information and communicate with the hotel, virtually meet the team and manage details of their stay in selecting personal preferences. In the arrival stage of the guest, these preferences according to the MySpace account are executed. During the stay the current room status is communicated to the employees and therefore a full control to see what is happening during the stay to meet needs and preferences of the guest. In the post-departure stage, a welcome home message is send to the MyPage website, which includes a personalized thankyou note and picture of the employee who checked-out the guest. Moreover invitation to leave a review on TripAdvisor is added to the message. (Neuhofer,2015)

In conclusion both traditional as well as technological methods lead to a higher personalization and customer engagement. It is important for the hotel industry to define the scale of the hotel and type of guest in order to have a successful personalization and relationship with the guest.

Sources:

Easen. N. (2016).Customers expect more than ever. Raconteur.

Mcalpin S. (2014). Bookingsuite What Guests Want Now: Personalization. Blogsuite. Retrieved from:http://blog.suite.booking.com/blog/what-guests-want-now-personalization/

Neuhofer, B. (2015). Smart technologies for personalized experiences: a case study in the hospitality domain. Elektronic markets. Springerlinks

Peelen, E., & Beltman, R. (2013). Customer relationship management. Pearson Education Limited.