From travel industry journals to conference workshops, personalization continues to get the lion’s share of attention lately. In the hospitality arena, personalization requires understanding each guest’s priorities and requirements – and then leveraging the latest tools and technologies to meet those needs.
A growing trend in hotel personalization is micro-customization. Once reserved for boutique outfits, micro-customized hotels are going mainstream by zeroing-in on guests’ specific needs and meeting them with advanced technology tools.
In the new Amadeus and IHG research report, Drivers of change in hospitality, IHG Chief Commercial and Technology Officer George Turner explains it this way: “A new era of micro-customization is dawning, made possible by digital-driven innovations that provide a more personal and interactive experience for guests.”
What is micro-customization and why is it important?
Twenty years ago, hotel guests expected bathrobes in their rooms, minibars, hair dryers and specific bed sizes. Today their “must have” list includes super-fast Wi-Fi, snuggly bed linens and modern décor. This is personalization.
Micro-customization goes to the next level. Examples include simultaneous language translation earphones for guests who don’t speak the language, apps offering suggestions on what to do based on their hotel location and interests, and in-room voice assistants like Alexa and Google Home for guest requests.
Another micro-customization trend is attribute-based hotel bookings. Taking their cue from the airline industry, forward-thinking hotels foresee the elimination of traditional room types (i.e. fares) as we know them today. Instead, guests will lobby for rooms and rates customized to their specific needs (i.e. ancillaries). They will pay for amenities that match their specific preferences, such as hypoallergenic pillows and mattresses, rooms with a view, floor choices, must-have upgrades and others.
To illustrate, Amadeus Hospitality VP, Yanick Larose, poses the question: “Why should reservations be based per night? Why can’t they be time-based? Why can’t I book a 24-hour slot, from 9 a.m. until 9 a.m. the next day?” With attribute-based hotel bookings, the future may be closer than we think.
Win-win for all
Hotel guests aren’t the only ones to benefit from this pivot. Embracing micro-customization creates new opportunities for the hospitality sector to achieve incremental revenue growth by offering ancillary services from non-room inventory. It also challenges hotels to elevate their offerings – not just to address customer requests, but to invest in and protect strong, loyal guest relationships.
According to the Amadeus-IHG report, guests of the future will continue to challenge hotel providers to invest even more in micro-customization. The rise of smartphones and social media, combined with tech amenities like artificial intelligence (AI)-enabled chatbots and in-room technology, will elevate the need for hotels to either change or be changed.
At every stage of a journey, hotels must look for new ways to build business by creating rich guest experiences. Looking ahead, the human touch of hospitality will integrate with technological innovation to meet modern consumer expectations.
As Steven Runin, EVP of Operations at LodgIQ states, “The golden rule of service is to anticipate a customer’s need before he is aware that he even needs it.” Delivering micro-customization – and proactively meeting specific customer needs – will lead to a bright future for tomorrow’s hospitality providers.
To read more about hotel and guest trends, download the Amadeus report here.