changing and as they do, so do their behaviors, preferences, expectations and values. How they research, where they hope to visit, where they want to stay, their favorite activities, the experiences they want to have, the entire guest journey is ripe for innovation. Everything about how guests make decisions and what they value is rooted in technology. Mobile devices, social networks, apps, review and comparison sites, they collectively push consumer decision-making, expectations and tastes in new directions. It’s not enough to invest in technologies that match what guests use. Hospitality brands must first understand the new generation of connected guests to design relevant and meaningful experiences that matter to them. Technology then, brings these guest experiences to life. One of the ways that hospitality brands are aiming to compete is by investing in digital transformation and the modernisation of business models and systems to compete more effectively. And, one of the top catalysts for successful digital transformation is customer experience (CX). In the hospitality world, guest experience (GX) is a top driver for digital transformation. GX combined with modern technology becomes a competitive advantage. But successful GX can only start with what’s at the heart of guest experience and how and why the standards for excellence are shifting. But, believe it or not however, many companies are making big investments in GX and digital transformation without actually knowing customers.
Bridging the gapThe good news is that companies see the need to better understand how to bridge the gap between guest experience as it’s delivered today and what they expect or prefer. In my recent research into the ‘State of Digital Transformation,’ I learned that 64.6% of companies are prioritising “evolving customer behaviors and preferences” as a key driver for digital transformation, which is also up from 55% in 2016. The bad news is that fewer than half are investing in understanding digital customers (42%). That’s a problematic gap. While the 42% attempting to understand digital customers is a start, it’s not nearly enough. What’s less encouraging is that only 34.8% have mapped out the customer journey in the last year, that number is down from 56% the previous year. This is simply not ok. Companies are investing in digital transformation, claiming that connected customers are the most important driver, yet, they’re not taking the time to place real world customers at the center of their investments.
Many executives and decision-makers simply do not live the brand the way customersMany executives and decision-makers simply do not live the brand the way customers do. Yet, they make decisions about what they believe carries an effective balance between what’s best for the business and for guest experiences. Modern, connected guests see things from a very different perspective. A global traveller survey conducted by Sabre found that expectations of personalised guest experiences aren’t anything out of the ordinary, really.
- 94% of guests want to choose travel add-ons to personalise their experience
- 86% want to be addressed by name in communications
- 86% want personalised offers and services that are relevant to their interests and lifestyle
- 84% would love it if their travel history was considered in personalised offers and recommendations
- 82% want their travel history reflected in everyday communication
About BrianBrian Solis is principal analyst and futurist at Altimeter, the digital analyst group at Prophet, Brian is world renowned keynote speaker and 7x best-selling author. His latest book, X: Where Business Meets Design, explores the future of brand and customer engagement through experience design. Invite him to speak at your event or bring him in to inspire and change executive mindsets. Connect with Brian! Twitter: @briansolis
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