Food for thought: A recap of Click by booking, technology and guest experience
By Martin Soler, Partner at Soler & Associates
Guest experience and technology are regularly reported as one and the same. They're not. Great human relations and guest experience are. But technology should give humans more time to spend with guests, and that's where things are interesting. Here's a mid-week recap for some thoughts.
Food for thought.
How much technology do we need?
Because technology and digital disruption are a thing, there are companies and thinkers that try to turn everything into a technology problem. But do we really need technology everywhere? Turning off the lights in a hotel room with a switch is still a lot easier than through an app or a tablet. Trying to wedge in tech solutions everywhere doesn't necessarily make the guest experience better. What we need to do is focus on the guest, many things can be improved with better technology and often that might be little things in the background that the guest will never know. But just like improving the plumbing in a hotel, those little things that guests never notice can change the experience and compounding those little things will make a big difference.
On TripAdvisor's new platform
Despite an unclear press release and futile attempt to take the new social TripAdvisor out for a spin, it is clear that adding that level of personalisation to a review platform isn't just some marketing spin. As soon as one attempts to recommend a solution one needs much more personalisation than a simple ranking. But the odd thing is why now? Why would users want to give away more data now, when many are trying to rebuild their right to privacy? The comments on this linked in post below point to some critical issues with the platform. Even if few believe in the chances of success, it makes sense. The timing of the launch and the fanfare with which it was launched with remain, however, hard to understand.
Messaging and Automation are Much More Than Marketing.
Messaging and automation are hailed as the future of digital marketing. But it's a lot more than that. Messaging is one of those technology pieces that can improve guest experience at all levels. But without the right level of automation, it is also one that can make a mess out of things. Sending a message to order room service is so much easier than calling, holding, ordering, waiting. But how can the system route the message to the right person? Done right this isn't just about marketing, it's about serving the guest based on their needs. Having guests hold the line while they're being connected is one of those "process before guest experience" workflows that could (and should) disappear. But then, there are always some who prefer to pick up the phone :-)
The Guests Knows
The research customers do today before buying or booking is second to none, they know things. But how are hotels improving the internal processes to reflect that? Front desk indicates where the elevator is and what time breakfast starts, but soon guests will know that already. Speaking to someone at front desk who rattles off a script might not be a lot better than getting a text message (that is not the solution). A great hotelier once told me they trained staff to welcome guests as if they were being welcomed to their home. Do you tell your guests what time breakfast is or where the restrooms are before they ask? Guests know a lot these days, the best solution isn't necessarily more technology but more intelligent conversations. If they don't ask for breakfast maybe they don't care, or they know.
Click (by Booking), a recap
Click just finished and below is a recap by someone who was there (I wasn't). An interesting event and a very welcome one. Some interesting takeaways, Booking's CMO discusses how guest journey has changed and the level of intent online is very low thus they need to increase personalisation. And how people expect instant gratification on getting their questions answered. Booking's CEO explained that travel research takes more time than the trip itself which is a problem they're trying to fix. There is a whole lot more and it's worth reading. The event seems interesting but unclear as to who the audience is and what they should be getting out of it. Is it tech companies, if so why? Is it hoteliers, but then why all the inspirational speakers? In any case, great to see the community building at Booking.
Tell Trends, mainly for executives
The quarterly magazine, Tell Trends, will be going out soon to select people who purchased their editions. The magazine is approximately 50 pages of experts taking a look at the major trends of the hotel marketing and tech industry. Those who don't have the time to read the daily news and want to understand where things are going.