Guest amenities

Right: Personalised services don’t have to be complicated: it can be as easy as offering a range of food choices.

Below: Hotels can still deliver a personal touch by giving guests the ability to customise their room settings via an app.

create a contactless experience where the hotel teams are still present and visible.”

Understanding the guest

At the start of the pandemic, citizenM adopted a fully flexible approach to all future reservations. Since then, its goal has been to ensure as much normality as possible, albeit while acknowledging guests’ natural concerns around wellbeing and personal safety. “That might be as complex as a fully digital, contactless experience – optional to use – or as simple as reassuring the guest by respecting social distancing and demonstrating impeccable standards of cleanliness,” says Chadha.

In terms of the type of personalised services guests are actually looking for, it doesn’t have to be complicated. It can mean having a wide variety of food choices (including healthy options and those catering to specific dietary needs), or it can mean being able to connect your own devices to the TV screen. It could involve personalising your room settings through your hotel app or receiving appropriate offers and alerts via geotargeting. “Often we think that guests are asking for things that are difficult to get, but the first thing they are looking for is to cover the basics,” Carpintero points

out. He remarks that there are two main types of guests: those who just want to arrive at the hotel and go straight to their room, and those who want to interact with someone. This divide, which is often typified as lying along generational lines, perhaps has more to do with personality type or circumstances, and it’s important to be able to engage with both preferences. Beyond that, trying to understand the guest may boil down to understanding their demographic. It probably isn’t feasible to personalise every aspect of their experience, but it is possible to start by making some educated assumptions about what they might like. “We try to understand the customer in archetypes.

We know that a business traveller who stays for one night is likely to need certain services, and we’re going to put them at their disposal,” says Carpintero. “Even for a given customer, they won’t want the same things in a three-star hotel as in a Radisson Collection, and they won’t want the same things staying in the centre of London as they would in an airport hotel. So, let’s first understand where we are, then understand what the customer may be expecting and lastly be smart in designing our services in a way that can target a wide range of possibilities.”

Of course, this discussion may feel academic for

now, as many would-be guests currently aren’t visiting hotels. No matter how much faith has been placed in predictive analytics and pre-empting the wants and needs of a certain ‘type of traveller, it’s still hard to build profiles on people who aren’t actually there. As a result, brands may be focused more on maintaining people’s interest than personalising services. “There are fewer people travelling to truly connect with,” Chadha points out. “People aren’t in the mode to travel quite yet, so there is little point in engaging them around travel when they can’t. Instead, we have to maintain the conversation on a different topic, keeping purpose and values top of mind.”

The idea is that once travel reopens, guests will know exactly which hotel company to choose – and the hotel will be ready and waiting to greet them. ●

54 Hotel Management International /


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