Personalisation, a concept that lies at the very heart of the travel industry, is no longer a trend but an obligation, as every player in the travel industry now looks to market itself as an experience rather than a product.
Hotels are taking the personalisation message to heart to create a memorable guest experience and stand out from competitors. The proliferation of lifestyle hotels is a reflection of the increasing emphasis hotels are putting on creativity and innovation in the sharing economy era, as they seek to accommodate the changing preferences of a new generation of digital-savvy travellers seeking non-cookie cutter experiences.
But in an era where consumer technologies barrel forward, hotels also face a challenge in keeping up with ever-changing consumer preferences and behaviour. As guests nowadays are likely to have more advanced technology in their own homes (or hands) than what is offered in a guestroom, pressure is mounting on hoteliers to adapt to the new era of personalisation, i.e. the hyperconnected guest experience.
Oakwood’s Asia-Pacific managing director Dean Schreiber thinks “customisation” will be the future of the guestroom experience, sharing his observations on the sidelines of the Serviced Apartment Summit Asia in Bangkok last month.
“Twenty years ago, hotels were where technology was more advanced, but homes have caught up quickly. Now the trend is reversed,” Schreiber stated. Oakwood has hence been looking at innovative ways to enhance the guest experience, and is set to unveil game-changing concepts in the coming weeks, he shared.
At the same time, the rise of technology and big data has enabled hotels to gather the information necessary to build accurate customer profile and deliver personalised experiences.
But while giving data may be second nature for a younger generation used to giving data in return for tailored content, services and experiences, their willingness to offer data is not shared equally across the travel demographics.
Herein also lies the personalisation challenge – how can hotels hyper-personalise without being hyper-personal or even becoming ‘creepy’? There is also the broader concern of hyper-personalisation encroaching on guest privacy, as recent data breaches in the airline and hospitality sectors have shown.
Striking the right balance between effective personalisation and respect for consumer privacy can be a challenge. How can hotels offer each customer a tailored experience with the right level of relevance and value as they seek to build a long-term relationship with guests?
The art of making guests feel at home remains a fine art, even in this hyperconnected age.