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WHAT'S THE BUZZ IN HOSPITALITY?

3 Tips to Starting a Guest-Centric, Omnichannel Strategy

Jan 08,2020

Hospitality has always been about placing the guest at the center of the decision-making process. This long-standing tradition has not changed. Take a moment to think about how people find you today. How do they see your offers, and what drives them to make a booking? It shouldn’t matter which apps, platforms, or devices guests use to find you – they want it to be easy. For that matter, the guest’s comfort level with any given technology should not make a difference. Whether they’re using a desktop, a tablet, or a smartphone, regardless of their operating system, and no matter their preferred contact method: calling an agent or booking online, recruiting guests requires an omnichannel approach.

Upon arrival, and even before guests step onto your property, what is their check-in experience? Are they able to check-in on their phone, their tablet, at a lobby kiosk, with an agent at the front desk – or some combination of all these? An omnichannel experience is technology-agnostic. It, therefore, meets the needs and expectations of every demographic – or every guest's mood. For those who want to talk with a human or those who prefer digital engagement, brands that offer flexible interactions are considered more open and engaging.

Understanding how travelers move between all these channels allows you to design the most effective strategies for guest acquisition and retention. Here are a few tips to get started:

  1. You are what you measure. In an omnichannel setup, the traditional metrics of table turn times or website conversions won’t provide a complete representation of your KPIs. Ensure you are monitoring and measuring holistic data – capturing cross-channel guest engagement data. The results inform and help you calibrate your ongoing guest communication strategies.
  2. Involve your staff. An order placed on the guest’s phone at one of the pool cabanas might have a different tipping profile than an order placed at a fine-dining venue where servers are, by design, much more attentive. Your operational staff’s buy-in when it comes to technology is essential to success.
  3. Experiment, Experiment, Experiment. Start in a small area of your property and test your approach by using different operational workflows to find the sweet spot that delivers your ideal guest service standard, but also supports staff success. Build upon that knowledge to expand to other areas – from guest recruitment to post-departure, where omnichannel creates opportunities to reach even more guests.

Technology is a great enabler. Rapid developments coming to market enable easier deployment and experimentation. While an omnichannel strategy likely involves the adoption of new technologies, it is also an operational change that will, in some ways, affect your business-as-usual. Your unique characterization of such a strategy may seem elusive at first, but it’s clear — the new guest expectation reality is omnichannel.

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