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Hotel Guest Preferences

All Travelers Now Want High-Touch Services

Technology has become the equalizer for all travelers. Whether it’s a high-end business traveler or a family on vacation on the New Jersey shore, virtually everyone has become accustomed to – and expects – high-touch services from hotels.

A recent American Express survey found that “future travelers” will tap into these high-tech options and human services in order to achieve the ultimate travel experience. While the study focuses on the traveler of the future, we believe that this trend is happening right now.

Another interesting aspect of the study is that 93 percent of travelers said that despite digital advances in the travel industry, the value of personal service cannot be replaced.

“Increasingly, travelers want to see the world on their terms with tailored, personalized and differentiated experiences that reflect their passions and needs,” said Claire Bennett, Executive Vice President, American Express Travel. “The boundaries between technology and personal service are being blurred, allowing more intimate connections for travelers with the world around them.”

For hotel brands this presents both challenges and opportunities.

With pretty much every category of traveler expecting high-touch services, hoteliers will need to focus their efforts even more on pleasing the guest. It also opens the door for hotel brands to seek out new innovations and partnerships that strengthen the brand by creating a completely “frictionless guest experience.”

Additionally, the study found that 82 percent of respondents are more interested in “making memories” than making money, and are seeking more meaningful life experiences. In other words, it’s the experience and not material possessions that make people happy.

For hoteliers, this means creating these new experiences for guests, leveraging new technologies and making service an even bigger priority. In other words, going above and beyond for guests is now the new norm.

The hotel brands that embrace this new mindset will clearly emerge from the ever-increasing competitive pack. The good news though is that the guest always wins.



Not All Hotel Guests Are Created Equal

From technology needs to food preferences, there are many new studies that highlight hotel guest preferences. One such study recently issued by Hotels.com showed that free Wi-Fi is the number one preferred amenity, followed by wanting a free breakfast.

What is more interesting about this study is that wired rooms and other innovations fell down lower on the scale of guest preferences.

While this type of study, on the surface, seems very insightful for major hotel brands, it may need to be viewed from a different perspective. For example, the study participants tended to fall more into the mid-tier realm, and did not take into account the needs of the luxury traveler.

In addition, the biggest challenge of these types of studies is that they essentially say that “all guests are the same” and this is “what they want.” The reality is that hotel guests are very diverse and have highly complex and differentiated needs.

It is very easy to make assumptions when marketing to hotel guests based on these kinds of studies. Rather than taking a generalized approach, it is recommended that all brands create highly detailed personas of all guests. These can range from Millennials to Baby Boomers to the vacationing family on a budget.

Another recent study looked at how most guests want more mobile options. This may seem obvious to the casual reader but, when analyzing the results of this report, it is important to take into account that mobile guests also have very differing preferences.

The key takeaway is that today’s guests want highly customized offerings – whether through mobile solutions, in-room amenities or when interacting with the concierge.

Hoteliers that can leverage detailed personas and create solutions that truly meet the individual travelers needs, will have a leg up when it comes to creating lasting brand loyalty.