Attribute Based Shopping - A blessing or a bane?
— 11 experts shared their view
While attribute based shopping has been discussed for over 10 years, the level of noise about its application for the hotel industry has significantly increased in the last 18 months. After significant investment in new systems and technology, companies like IHG are tipping their toes in the ABS waters. While some tout the great benefits (and revenues) expected by offering customers more choice, others take a more cautious approach, questioning the expected benefits and ROI. What is your take on ABS, will it do what it did for the Airline industry - boost ancillary revenues, or will it be the "3D TV" of Hotel Technology.
Assistant Professor at Ecole hôtelière de Lausanne
Customers don't buy attributes, customers buy solutions to their problems. What customer problems could ABS solve? How could ABS make customers' lives better or easier? The fate of ABS will depend on the answers to these questions.
What customer problems could ABS solve? To answer this question, hoteliers should focus on their customer personas, personas' lifestyles, and reasons to visit the destination. A family traveling with an infant needs more than a baby crib, and will pay for the extra amenities such as baby bathtub, baby bottle sanitizer, etc. To make customers' lives easier, Westin Gear Lending program enables travelers to maintain their travel routine without carrying their sports gear, while a Westin Workout room let travelers use fitness equipment in their rooms. Hence, monetization opportunities are not much about rooms' physical attributes, but addressing customers' problems.
Focusing on monetizing attributes may create a dilemma. Hotel rooms can be differentiated based on a very limited set of attributes, such as a king or queen bed, high or low floor, near or away from elevators, shower or bathtub, different views, etc. Even if customers could configure their own rooms, they may not perceive this opportunity as value-adding. On the other hand, high-end properties may offer more attributes or features, but their customers probably do not want to invest their valuable time to configure, while hoteliers want to avoid showing the price of every attribute.
Nerveless, the technology developed for ABS will be a blessing. When hoteliers think outside of the box (hotel), identify services or amenities helping customers solving their problems, then these services or amenities could be booked and confirmed through ABS. What about booking a hotel room with two beach chairs and an umbrella? Anyone?