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How Is The Hospitality Industry Improving Customer Experience (CX)?

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Measuring CX is one of the most important metrics within hospitality.

But as all good venue owners know you cannot sit on legacy business tactics for long - even good CX strategy needs revamping from time to time.

Customer Experience is a fickle thing - it’s subject to the whims of every interaction between your customer and your digital assets; your customer and your affiliates and your customer and your staff. But in every customer interaction lies the real magic of hospitality. If you get your CX right, and if it feels tangible and brand-oriented, you can create a memory lasting a lifetime. Good CX creates a stalwart brand advocate and a repeat customer in every person that crosses your threshold. Your most loyal and brilliant customers will only become so if your CX defies expectations.

Creating a marketing-winning CX strategy takes an investment of time, energy, digital assets and customer service training. Above all else the people who man your fort need to be deeply attuned to your brand service purpose, tone, delivery and flexible customer expectations. In this regard, before we really get into the meat of CX, the most important thing to remember is good CX is built on alignment - alignment of customer expectations with service delivery, alignment of staff performance with management and other staff, and alignment of reviews, feedback, post-sales and repeat visits with real-life experience.

To understand how improvements are being made across hospitality CX it’s best to split F&B-related CX into three parts - Pre-Stay/Pre-Sales Interactions, Technical Innovation, and Reputation Management.

 1) Pre-stay/pre-sales interactions

Goal - to improve customer interaction pre-stay. This means engagement and expectation setting across digital assets and marketing/sales platforms; review management online; effective website experiences and easy quick booking systems. In our view, the primary drivers of CX improvement in pre-stay interactions lie in:

  • Flexible booking policies - is your venue doing enough to create a stress-free, flexible booking system, where your customer feels empowered and in control of their stay?
  • Wellness services and amenities/surge in adventure/active holidays - the rise in wellness and activity-based staycations, and the demand from customers to be more connected to the community they’re staying in, means pre-stay/pre-sales marketing and direct communications need to be aligned with local amenity offer, local activity offer and adjacent businesses that match the needs of your customer.
  • Website experience - if your website is not fast, easy to navigate, easy to read, full of information and up to date, you will lose potential guests. Your website needs to be seamless, and as more and more people move to direct sales channels to book with venues, it needs to surpass booking admin expectations.

2) Technical innovation

Goal - to use the immense suite of tech platforms, software and innovative tools to create a seamless journey into and out of any digital and physical assets, including venue interaction, room management, venue offers, customer experience feedback, comms, businesses sales and surrounding community culture information, such as:

  • Internet of Things - as the IoT seeps into the mainstream, the interconnectedness of your venue’s assets - from Bluetooth speakers in rooms to pre-ordering food and experiences - is a key improver of CX. There is a great explainer of the IoT and Hospitality in this piece by Revfine.
  • Communication and accountability via apps integrated with booking platforms - in essence, the ease of digital booking and venue communications, and the integration of booking platforms onto venue apps for seamless booking.
  • Facial Recognition - improving the overall customer interaction experience from check-in to food ordering. You can read more about innovative use of facial recognition in Hospitality in this piece by Cyberlink.
  • Voice-Controlled Rooms - again, improving check-in and venue experience with tactile and voice-activated room controls.
  • RFID Wristbands - an innovation to speed up keyless entry into rooms.
  • Chatbots - improving the ease of venue booking and fact-finding.
  • Virtual Reality - imagine being able to walk around a hotel room during pre-booking to fully experience your stay ahead of committing. A ground-breaking innovation that’s sure to become the norm in the near future.
  • Located-Based Services - geo-located business integration to help include relevant surrounding businesses and attractions into your booking ecosystem.

3) Reputation management

Goal - to improve the emotive element of the customer journey, and to tie improvement of CX to improvement of overall reputation.

  • The “A shopping cart experience” - as per this piece in SiteMinder, this means retrofitting an overall booking system into a customisable series of packages, to help customers scale or descale their stay as they want. In theory, matching the “shopping cart” experience of commerce on numerous other sites.
  • Think creatively with your packages - this means thinking outside the box in regards to your overall experience offer - don’t be afraid to try new things and expand the scope of offer in the hunt for the perfect CX.
  • Use your own property to add value - have you maximised the potential of your venue? Have you explored every opportunity to open the doors to new experiences in your location? Crucially, do your customers know this and are they privy to changes?
  • Focusing on adapting to speciality markets - most hospitality venues have their “regulars”, be the events at certain times of the year, repeat customers, and peaks and troughs in trade. What we suggest is drilling down into what you want to be known for. Adapting for a speciality market doesn’t mean hyper-focusing on one demographic or type of customer - it means making simple adjustments to cater for as wide, or as specific, a range of customers as you want, and then going all-out on building a CX strategy for those customers.
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