Finding the Optimal Channel Combination


Blog Week 4 - Picture

(ePublicist, 2011)


The social media arena offers a whole range of possibilities for hotel chains to engage with their customers. Seizing all the opportunities of social media, by being presence on every social network, is not beneficial for hotel chains. By offering theoretic accessibility, the hotel chains might seem very accessible, but in practice they are not equipped to handle this volume of contacts. In the research performed by Chan & Guillet (2011), they found that among the 67 hotels in Hong Kong they researched, 48 hotels did not respond to the inquiries and reviews of guests. This lack of accessibility can lead to negative word of mouth and should therefore be avoided. In order to do so, hotel chains should develop their own multichannel strategy based on the optimal channel combination for their company.

To come to the optimal channel combination a company needs to answer the following sub-questions:

  1. What range of channels will we offer to customers in different segments and which channels facilitate the different ‘touch points’ during the customer journey?

For this question, it is important that the hotel chain gets a clear insight into the different segments and focus on what type of social media their customers are most active (Peelen & Beltman, 2013).
For example, in the image below you can get an insight in the different preferences of social media of segments based on gender, age, income and education.

(Social Media Demographics, 2010)

The data in the image is not sufficient enough to answer this question, the company should also take a look at personality characteristics, ‘top –of-mind awareness’ of a channel and many other factors. By collecting this data, the hotel chains can make a selection based on what the most successful social media channels are  in their case and take a look at how these different channels can facilitate the ‘touch points’. If a hotel chain succeeds to use the social media channels that their customers are most active on and they use them at the right moment based on the different ‘touch points’, a hotel chain will become more accessible to their customers.

  1. What degree of differentiation will we apply?

In the case of Hilton, there are two different pages on Facebook: one general and one for the members of Hilton HHonors (their loyalty programme). By having this extra Facebook page, Hilton is able to respond to the loyal members faster, which means they differentiate between members and non-members of Hilton HHonors.

Hilton HHonors Facebook

Facebook Hilton HHonors

  1. Can we control being present on these channels?

This last question about testing the chosen channel combination through answering three questions:
– Can the organisation still reinforce the customer experience with this channel combination?
– Are the costs manageable?
– Is the accessibility in terms of performance manageable?
(Peelen & Beltman, 2013)

When one of these questions is answered negatively and the channel combination is still applied, this can lead to theoretic accessibility, because the organisation does not have  the resources needed for that channel combination.

In conclusion, it is necessary for hotel chains to find out what their optimal channel combination is, so they can offer their customers the best experience. However, it is important that they realise that social media strategies need to be adjusted to customer needs in the future and therefore the optimal channel combination has to be checked regularly to see whether it is still efficient.


Sources


Chan, N.L. & Guillet, B.D. (2011). Investigation  of Social Media Marketing: How Does the Hotel Industry in Hong Kong  Perform in Marketing on Social Websites? Journal of Travel & Tourism Marketing, 28 (4)
DOI: 10.1080/10548408.2011.571571

ePublicist (Consulting Group) (2011). Social Media [Illustration]. Retrieved from https://www.flickr.com

Social Media Demographics [Illustration]. (2010). Retrieved from https://www.flickr.com

Peelen, E. & Beltman, R. (2013). Customer Relationship Management (Second Edition). Amsterdam: Pearson Education Benelux BV.

Developing Complaint Management Systems in the Hotel Industry


Blog Week 3 - Picture.jpg(Gary Hamel: Open source is one of the greatest management innovations of the 21st century, 2010)


The Aldemar hotel chain in Greece is an example of a hotel chain that set up their own complaint management system by using a data-mining technique called case-based reasoning. Case-based reasoning takes place when: “A new problem situation is sought among previously occurring cases with similar characteristics with a positive or beneficial outcome.” (Peelen & Beltman, 2005/2013). By analysing data in which was described how problems were solved in the past, the Aldemar hotel chain developed specific procedures for handling customer complaints by looking at what had been the most successful way in the past.

In order to develop a complaint management system for a hotel group, the data necessary for case-based reasoning needs to be collected. A method most commonly used to gather complaints is the use of questionnaires. Apart from using questionnaires, data can also be collected at hotel chains when the customers directly contact the hotel chain to complain. Since case-based reasoning in this case requires finding the most effective way to deal with complaints, the data also needs to include information on how the hotel chain dealt with the complaints.

After collecting the data, it is useful to divide the type of complaints in different groups based on their characteristics. The Aldemar hotel chain did this as well. First, they separated complaints based on when the complaint is made (when the customers are still at the hotel or after they check out). The group of complaints made when the customers are still at the hotel was split into minor and serious complaints, while the complaints that were made after the check out, were divided based on who made them and where the complaints were send to.  (Fragoulakis & Stavrinoudis, 2010)

For hotel chains, it is also important to look at who should deal with the complaints. Should the employees refer the matter to a supervisor? Or, in case of complaints made after check out, should the main office deal with the complaint? By analysing data that has been collected before, hotel chains are able to connect types of complaints to a specific way of communicating, based on what has proven to be the most effective way of complaint handling before.

While developing a complaint management system through case-based reasoning, it is important for hotel groups to realize that there will still be complaints that cannot be put into a certain group and that it is not possible to create a different procedure for every type of complaint. However, for the complaints that can be put in categories and for which specific procedures can be created, there will be clear guidelines for employees.

Eventually, an effective complain management system that has been designed by using case-based reasoning can lead to resolving issues in a timely and cost-effective way, improvements in the service delivery, and it can improve the reputation of a hotel chain (Ombudsman, 2010). Therefore it is advisable for hotel chains to invest their time in creating a complain management system, just like the Aldemar hotel chain did.


Sources

Fragoulakis, V. & Stavrinoudis,T. (Eds.). International Conference on Sustainable Tourism: Issues, Debates and Challenges, Anissaras-Hersonissos, 22-25 April 2010. Retrieved from http://www.researchgate.net/

Gary Hamel: Open source is one of the greatest management innovations of the 21st century [Illustration]. (2010). Retrieved from http://www.flickr.com

Ombudsman Western Australia (November 2010). Effective handling of complaints made to your organisation – An Overview. Retrieved from http://www.ombudsman.wa.gov.au/

Peelen, E. & Beltman, R. (2013). Customer Relationship Management (2nd ed.). Harlow: Pearson Education Limited

Co-creating the Luxury Hotel Experience.


Blog Week 2 - Picture

Scott Maxwell, 2007


In 2012 the Klaus K hotel (part of the Kämp hotel group) in Helsinki introduced “The Klaus K Living Room Project”. For this project they used the concept co-creation by having a brainstorming session about the upcoming lounge with anyone who wanted to join (Heinrichs, 2013).

Co-creation is based on the following DART-principles:
1. Dialogue stands for “Shared learning and communication between two equal problem solvers” (Prahalad & Ramaswamy, 2004).
2. Access stands for opening up to each other’s worlds, which leads to a faster and more efficient process to deal with problems and experiences that are more engaging and meaningful.
3. Risks stands for a risk assessment being necessary.
4. Transparency stands for avoiding that customers get the feeling that the process is only beneficial to the company.

In the following part these principles will be applied to the case of the Klaus K hotel through multiple steps of co-creation, which are based on Peelen & Beltman (2013).

Step 1: Formulating a precise question (Dialogue, Access)
The aim of this project was: “To create a world class lounge, where people would come to meet each other, remote work, eat, drink and simply spend their evenings”. Therefore, during this process, the question that needed to be answered was how this world class lounge could be designed.

Step 2: Use proper phasing (Dialogue)
This step is all about making a clear distinction between phases, which can serve as a guideline for the company. The Klaus K hotel made the following schedule for this:
In August 2012, people were allowed to send in their ideas (idea generation phase). After that, in September, the selection phase started after which a winner was announced. From October to December they had the planning and purchasing phase and in January 2013 the implementation phase started. In February 2013 the Living Room would be reopened. (“Invitation – Klaus K hotel”, 2012)

Step 3: Involving the right people (Dialogue, Risk)
“The Klaus K Living Room Project” was open to ideas from anyone during the idea generation phase, but during all the stages after that, they worked together with a smaller group and did not allow everyone to be involved anymore. By doing so, the Klaus K hotel could work more efficiently by having motivated people with an interest in the project at all times.

Step 4: Choosing the right format (Dialogue, Access)
The Klaus K hotel used crowdsourcing as a format by having a competition where everyone could send in their ideas for the project, which meant that the contestants took over the idea generating phase.

Step 5: Motivating properly (Dialogue, Access, Transparency)
The competition that the Klaus K hotel organised was a way of motivating the people to share their ideas for the Living Room. The winner of the competition would get a chance to work with a professional design team, get a personalized piece of furniture in the Living Room with a lifetime table reservation, and the possibility to hold their own party in the Living Room. (“Invitation – Klaus K hotel”, 2012)

Step 6: Deploying appropriate techniques (Dialogue, Access)
Letting others design the Living Room, gave the Klaus K hotel an idea on what the people were looking for from a functional point of view, but it also showed what type of experience people want.

Step 7: Providing feedback (Dialogue, Access, Risk)
Especially during the implementation phase, the Klaus K hotel gave regular updates on the project. During the other stages it is unclear whether the Klaus K hotel send updates to the contestants, however it is advisable to do so, since it will make them feel like their input is taken seriously.

Using co-creation as a luxury hotel group will not only save costs, but it also reduces time to market and risks of failure. Therefore it is an effective way of letting customers get involved in the value creation process and a way to improve your hotel!


Sources

Heinrichs, E. (2013, April 17). Klaus K’s new LIVINGROOM concept and Fashion Brunches brighten up Helsinki’s spring [Web log post]. Retrieved from http://blog.visithelsinki.fi/

Invitation – Klaus K Hotel Co-creation Project Award Party. (2012, September 4). Retrieved from http://www.mynewsdesk.com/

Scott Maxwell (Illustrator). (2007). Working Together Teamwork Puzzle Concept [Illustration]. Retrieved from https://www.flickr.com

Peelen, E. & Beltman, R. (2013). Customer Relationship Management (Second Edition). Amsterdam: Pearson Education Benelux BV.

Prahalad, C.K. & Ramaswamy, V. (2004). Co-creating unique value with customers. Strategy & Leadership, 32(3), pp. 4-9. DOI: 10.1108/10878570410699249