Hotels are very room-centric by heavily focusing on having as many hotel rooms occupied as possible. However, in order to stay competitive hotels should move away from a ‘transaction’ only mindset, to a guest-centric mindset. We asked Jan Jaap van Roon, CEO of Ireckonu, why hotel marketers need to recognize their guests and what benefits a guest-centric mindset brings.
Read this article to learn:
✔ Why hotel marketers need to recognize their guests
✔ What benefits a guest-centric mindset brings
✔ How hotels can recognize their guests
Ali Naqvi: Why do hotel marketers need to recognize their guests?
Jan Jaap: Hotels are very room-centric instead of guest-centric. This is very common in the hospitality industry. For a very long time, available rooms have been a hotel’s assets, not their brand. Guests want to feel like VIPs but the technology that hotels have, particularly a Property Management System (PMS) that helps manage the property, the rooms and guest check-in/check-out fails to recognize guests.
For example, I can check into a hotel and once I check out, the hotel will not know anything about me.
I believe that this is the main reason hotels started losing their customers to the OTAs, which interjected themselves between the customers and the hotels by starting to recognize guests. Now, with Google’s growing technology, people are used to being recognized and thus being served well with added value.
Ali Naqvi: How does failing to recognize guests impact the hotel’s success?
Jan Jaap: A research study claims that 92% of guests are negatively impacted if they aren’t recognized. People have actually become more zero-tolerant and if you fail to recognize them, this has a negative impact on your brand. Guest centricity increases the Rate of Returning Visitors and also increases the guest satisfaction immensely. I don’t think I need to explain to a marketer how guest satisfaction helps against OTAs.
Guest centricity increases the Rate of Returning Visitors and also increases the guest satisfaction immensely.
Ali Naqvi: How would you recommend hotels go about recognizing their guests?
Jan Jaap: We’ve observed that guests don’t mind sharing their privacy data and telling us what they like or don’t like, as long as we use that data to provide a better experience for them. I recommend that a hotel marketer start by looking at available data and shift from a room-centric mindset to a guest-centric mindset.
Ali Naqvi: Have you seen any hotels that have successfully moved from a room-centric mindset to a guest-centric mindset?
Jan Jaap: Few hotels are making this paradigm shift as it’s still all in early stages. One hotel has made steps to become more guest-centric with staff facilitating it during stay.
There are numerous examples of companies in other industries utilizing customer data to provide better service. Unfortunately, hotels haven’t really caught up with them yet.
Ali Naqvi: Can you share an example?
Jan Jaap: Let’s take Uber for example, or even Tesla. They tell their loyal users: ‘Dear loyal user, you love our brand and if you talk to your friends about us, we will reward you.’ They’re having conversations with their existing, loyal customers.
Ali Naqvi: What do you think prevents hotels from adopting a similar approach?
Jan Jaap: I believe hotels are more focused on transactions and selling hotel rooms than having conversations with their guests. Your loyal guests are your best ambassadors and will promote your brand to others. Paying attention to loyal guests is a great strategy to start communicating with and attracting new potential guests that fit the profile of a good, returning high-value guest, without paying commissions to OTAs.
Your loyal guests are your best ambassadors and will promote your brand to others.
Ali Naqvi: Isn’t this accomplished by guest loyalty programs?
Jan Jaap: Guest-centricity doesn’t replace loyalty programs. People don’t care about a discounted room rate as they don’t ‘feel’ it. However, giving them a spa experience will make them feel better. In fact, you can actually improve your loyalty program by adopting this mindset. It’s all about creating a loyalty feeling. If you know your guests better, you can use that to refine your loyalty program.
Ali Naqvi: I get the impression that shifting mindset from room-centricity to guest-centricity is easier said than done. Do you agree?
Jan Jaap: Yes, that is correct. The whole set-up of a hotel’s marketing department needs to change and the hotel chain needs different KPI drivers. The CMO must advocate for it within the organization and get the buy-in from other executives. Everybody has to adopt the new mindset in order to succeed.
Jan Jaap van Roon, CEO of Ireckon and Ireckonu, truly believes that IT is an enabler to better facilitate company processes and that the IT department should not be considered a bottleneck to receiving desired technology solutions. This is why he started Ireckon, a company based on establishing a customer’s underlying operational challenges, followed up with advice and tailored technology solutions. Before Ireckon, Jan Jaap held high level positions at various IT focused companies such as R&D Media, T-Mobile and Microsoft. Holding a double major in Technical Information and Mathematics, he spends his extra time mentoring young developers and cycling.