A combination of both online applications while promoting a destination can all contribute towards customising an experience for guests staying in mid-market hotels, which creates a sense of loyalty, and eventually repeat business.
Speaking during a panel discussion at the Hotelier Express Summit 2017 titled ‘Thinking Outside the Box – Customising Experiences’, conference chairperson Rupprecht Queitsch – the CEO and senior partner of INHOCO Group, posed a question about how mid-market properties can ensure a personalised experience for guests.
Premier Inn Dubai International Airport Hotel and Al Jaddaf dual site general manager Pawel Guminski said this is admittedly a tricky subject. He added that using apps to do a variety of things is the new trend, and social media is a “massive platform” to be visible and interact with guests for a personal experience.
Remmie De Graaf, general manager, Hilton Garden Inn Ras Al Khaimah, also added to the discussion: “Customising the guest experience starts from the booking process and even before that.” From traditional advertising, de Graaf said, through to social media, there are ways to target guests initially. “Then you engage with the customer; at the end nobody wants to be a number anymore,” de Graaf added.
Bespoke Hotels MEA general manager Rana Mukherji said that in particular with his company’s holiday home offering, using apps for check-in, grocery shopping via InstaShop, booking cars, making requests to the team via WhatsApp, are all ways in which the experience can be personal and customised while staying on the virtual plane. He added: “The entire approach is very virtual, but far more personal.”
Aditya Rajaram, managing director of Radar DWC, commented: “The only way to ensure that a guest is happy with a product they have without feeling it’s just another boring hotel is to inculcate in them the brand ethos that you’re developing and then give them the platform to plug in and create their own experience.
“That is something hoteliers and owners need to understand, is that gone are the days when you can force down the guests’ throat what you think that they should be experiencing. You need a product that is open, welcoming and extremely flexible – or they will find an opportunity to move on.”
Queitsch agreed and added: “We used to say that ‘you don’t sell a bed or a stay, you sell an experience’.”
Part of selling an experience, the panellists agreed, was around destination management as well. De Graaf noted: “We have seen the trend that we promote far more than what is out there in the market – what is there in the surroundings, what activities can we do. All this is to give inspiration about the local destination rather than the bed, the telephone or the minibar – because the guest is looking for that experience.”
Full coverage of the Hotelier Express Summit 2017 will be online, as well as in the January 2018 issue of Hotelier Express.