Op Ed by: Peter Waters, EVP, Hotel IT Solutions, Hospitality, Amadeus
Business traveler expectations for hotel stays have been evolving for a while. In some respects, the pandemic reinforced expectations for improved guest experiences rather than creating new ones. In other cases, corporate travel managers have an increased need for preferred properties with high and established standards for cleanliness and safety. All travelers want unique experiences, bespoke stays and greater value relative to cost. And expectations only rise when business is combined with pleasure.
The impact of the pandemic has been severe for the hospitality industry. The incredible challenges for hoteliers include the ebb and flow of occupancies, with properties experiencing both record highs and lows, coupled with high staff turnover and what appear to be permanent staff shortages. While the environment is tough, a number of hotel companies are moving forward with technology plans, implementing solutions that complement and streamline experiences while retaining a human touch. As they anticipate the return of business travel, here are the experiences these hoteliers are focused on delivering.
Recognition, Reward And Personalization
Let’s first look at guest experience dynamics that can enhance a hotelier’s ability to deliver more unique stays and greater value. Guests crave recognition, which creates a more personal connection with a property or brand. Relevant and personalized offers based on guest profile data and preferences (shopping, booking, on-property, post-stay) help build a unique experience for the guest. When the hotel recognizes the guest’s name and milestone events like birthdays and anniversaries, it can help deepen loyalty.
Business travelers, who tend to frequent the same properties due to proximity to sites or clients, especially appreciate and value the extra steps hoteliers can take to reward them for their business. Automatic early check-in or late checkout, free room upgrades, or complimentary food or beverage items are simple ways hoteliers can thank guests for their loyalty.
Business travelers also are frequently willing to pay more for the items they want — like a specific floor or view, office tools and media — and don’t want to pay for items they don’t need or desire. Offering the ability to personalize every aspect of the hotel stay can deliver not only a greater share of bookings, but also higher ancillary revenues.