At the crossroads between human contact and the digital revolution, the hospitality industry is undergoing extensive change, finding itself at a decisive turning point that needs to be carefully negotiated by hoteliers. Hotel-owners must improve their business guests experience and create brand loyalty if they are to thrive in an increasingly collaborative economy, which is completely reshaping the hospitality industry itself.
Digital technology lies at the heart of the customer experience.
As a result of digital innovation, the expectations of business customers have changed dramatically over the past decade.
With the emergence of hotel comparison websites and online travel agencies (OTAs), the customer’s trip begins the moment they start planning their trip and continues after their stay when they share their experience online.
The customer expects higher standards of service and comfort during their trip: for them, the hotel is no longer simply a temporary place to live and work, but a provider of enriching, pleasant and memorable experiences.
Hotel-owners are therefore rushing to upgrade their digital services in order to meet the expectations of this new generation of ultra-connected, experience-driven customers.
With regards to this particular issue, digital technology provides hotel-owners with many ways of responding to the practical needs of their business customers: ultra-connected, carrying multiple devices, these technologically-savvy clients expect a comprehensive technological provision coupled with a fast, almost instantaneous, service.
Digital technology ticks many of the right boxes, particularly the need for personalisation and efficiency.
Business customers in search of a human touch
However, digital technology does not have all the solutions.
The vast majority of business travellers prefer to speak to a member of staff to check-in, rather than use a reception terminal. By speaking to a physical person, customers feel sure of receiving useful and personalised information, whatever form that may take. This contact leads to a closeness which hugely influences the customer’s desire to return to the same hotel. Always in search of a personalised experience and individual recognition, they favour a human touch and return to the hotels where they have been warmly welcomed.
“HUMAN CONTACT AND PERSONALISATION ARE THE TOP PRIORITIES OF BUSINESS CUSTOMERS.”
Considering that 8 out of 10 business travellers stay alone in a hotel, the feeling of loneliness is one of the main reasons why they seek out human company.
Loyalty is won through beating loneliness.
There are many hotels where the communal spaces are lifeless, the bars are dead and the “business stopover” packages are dull. On the whole, the only option for business travellers is to shut themselves in their rooms to dine in the company of their tablets or smartphones.
The report highlights the importance of re-energising hotel communal spaces and creating a convivial atmosphere for business customers by providing occasions to mingle, such as networking drinks or reserving a table for business professionals. The traditional hotel layout, comprised of numerous bedrooms and large communal areas, is a powerful force which, when utilised effectively, offers business travellers an exclusive experience, and sets the hotel apart from the competition.
To beat the new competition in a constantly-changing industry, hotel-owners have to succeed in their digital transformation, by capitalising on their unique features, closeness and conviviality, so that business travellers continue to choose their hotels for their work trips.