Customer Experience 2030: A Vision For The Future Of Hospitality and Travel
Megatrends are expected to have a very deep and long‐lasting impact and mainly cover societal and technological changes. A megatrend lasts at least a decade. Customer centricity was identified by analysts as a disruptive megatrend that has a long-lasting impact on hospitality, travel, tourism, and retail.
Multiple factors influence hospitality today. There are global trends, also called megatrends, such as globalization, which have a long‐term influence on society. For each industry, there are also specific trends, such as customer centricity, that determine the environment companies act in. Besides these trends, there are various forces that affect the market place, such as the power of suppliers, new entrants into the market, or substitutes for particular products or services a hoteliers offers.
A particular driver in all the industry comes from the bargaining power of consumers. the results of several think tank sessions IAEIS conducted indicate that the wishes and demands of travellers are an increasing force and thus have a strong influence on what hospitality companies will offer in the future. We outline several factors that show how the shopping behavior of customers has changed.
One of the biggest challenges facing any hoteliers today is commoditization. That is, consumers are increasingly viewing hotels as undifferentiated from one another except on the basis of price. This attitude causes intense price competition and tends to drive down margins. Only the lowest‐cost leaders in any hospitality segment can compete primarily on the basis of price; all others must do something else. The antidote to commoditization, therefore, is differentiation through better customer experience and innovation.
Such differentiation must also be well communicated to consumers through strong branding. Avoiding commoditization, therefore, is becoming one of the signal challenges of our time for global retailers. Those that differentiate on the basis of something other than price will be the winners of the future. This will mean, for example, differentiated hotel formats, customer experience, product mix, services, and distribution channels. it may also mean focusing less on the mass market and more on niche‐oriented markets.
Focus on Customer experience
Today’s challenging marketplace requires hoteliers to build a renewed focus on viewing and delivering the total travel experience from the customer’s perspective. Hotels should shift their focus to offer guests an experience that is enjoyable, informative, entertaining, and easy.
Hotels should ensure that they build customer‐centric value chain, which are meant to make the buying process easy to understand and to transfer more control to customers over the entire purchasing experience. Customers must be given access to relevant and timely information and tools that improve their shopping experience. Hotels must provide customers with the services and level of information needed to make an informed and confident purchase.
Furthermore, Hoteliers should provide customers with greater control of the booking process to drive more efficiency and speed in all customer transactions. Ambience, other customers, personal relationships with the staff, personal concierge assistants, or technology‐driven assistance such as Mobile Apps will become of increasing importance.
An Integrated View of the Customer
The customer experience needs to be consistent and seamless across channels, and customer touch points (such as mobile e‐commerce, call centers, direct mail, or check in kiosks). Hoteliers need to achieve a foundational level of customer information integration that includes eliminating customer data silos and integrating fragmented pieces of data gathered across all customer touch points and channels. This level of integration allows hoteliers to deliver more seamless customer experiences and more relevant offerings to customers.
For instance, integrated customer information allows customers to easily move between different room options within a hotel (for example, a hotel with a business service center and executive lounge) during a shopping experience. The customer information is available to every front desk clerk in every hotel instantaneously. Customers can use multiple channels to interact with the hoteliers. For example, they could begin a transaction with a mobile device, such as taking a picture of a service offering. They could continue this transaction at home, such as online or with e‐commerce. And they could finish it in the hotel by accessing their profile through in‐room Web access.
Investment in Services
Hoteliers that can successfully sell services related to their core products or simply to the strength of their brand names can increase their growth through expanded wallet share. As suggested by the future hospitality trends initiative, the hospitality industry will experience a shift toward services and solutions, leading companies to rethink product development with an emphasis on these aspects. The outcome of the consumption experience, rather than features and functions, will become more important to the consumer. Hotels that succeed in this arena will have a greater chance of achieving “lock‐in” with customers. The importance of services related to healthcare and wellness will also grow, giving hoteliers the potential to transform themselves into lifestyle providers.
A strong, dynamic and efficient hospitality sector will ensure the sustainable, inclusive and broad‐based economic and social development. A vibrant hospitality sector is critical in supporting closer regional integration through the establishment of the Asia Pacific Community. Thus, the encouragement and promotion of competitive and innovative hotels is necessary in contributing to greater economic growth and social development towards more inclusive and broad‐based integration of the region. The hospitality sector in Asia Pacific, however, is confronted with a wide‐range of structural, financial and technological challenges, among which are limited access to finance, ICT and markets. There is also the question of entrepreneurial spirit and management skills among Asia Pacific hoteliers. These problems are compounded by the lack of information, inadequate capacity for compliance with standards and certification, and the absence of a more conducive business and policy environment.