There has been a global shift, and it’s a drastic one. In part 1 last week, we highlighted the most recent trends occurring within the luxury travel space and why catering to the sophisticated traveller is a must for today’s hoteliers. We now conclude this blog by showcasing exactly how hoteliers can make this happen.
Personalised treatment typically starts at arrival (See our blog ‘How to drive sales through great customer experience’ for tips on how to start the personalised treatment during the booking process).
Micah Solomon, a customer experience consultant for many high-end brands, states that a traditional front-desk check-in feels archaic and slow for many of today’s travellers. This revelation has caused many luxury brands to rethink their check-in approach.
Hotel giants such as Andaz and Auberge are getting creative with their offerings and have decided to get rid of the check-in counter altogether. They are now looking to greet people, with an iPad in hand. Not only does this speed up the check-in process and give hotel staff the opportunity to instil a personalised relationship within the first few minutes of the guest’s arrival, it also lets them find out about any specific wishes and needs that guest may have.
A revised check-in strategy is only the beginning. Luxury hotels are increasingly looking to differentiate themselves from competitors, meaning even the smallest features now count to make a difference.
Luxury brands such as Marriott and Starwood Hotels, for example, are hoping to keep the experience alive even at home by offering guests room amenities they’d want to take away with them.
These hotels have teams researching and testing room amenities such as bedding and toiletries for months. In fact, Marriott spends US$20 million annually on Thann products in the Americas and the Asia Pacific, and about one-third of that on Acca Kappa in Europe and Africa.
Starwood’s Westin brand, creator of the Heavenly Bed concept, places a strong focus on comfortable bedding.
When staying at a Westin retreat, guests can request a pillow menu to ensure they can enjoy the best possible sleep – something that ties in directly with Luxury Travel Magazine’s claim that staying up all night is a thing of the past; 2014 sees guests taking advantage of a quiet night in.
The Omni Grove Park Inn in Asheville, North Carolina, even goes as far as offering temple balm and reflexology foot treatment as a turndown amenity, along with a “Good Night Wishes” card with tips for relaxing.
Free Wi-Fi and high-tech facilities are other features that hotels are now expected to provide across their properties. iPads in rooms, for example, have become a staple rather than a novelty.
Recognising that travellers are often on a quest to find that special something to write about, some hotels are looking to take the deluxe travel experience outside the traditional context.
Four Seasons, for example takes camping to a whole other level, with the Golden Triangle, located in Thailand’s jungle, offering luxurious tented accommodation that features everything from lavish bathing facilities, twice daily housekeeping, Wi-Fi, down pillows and much more – all wrapped up in style and class. The camp even offers a free-form pool and a full-service spa as well as personalised excursions and guided activities.
The demand for the unusual has become so apparent that Booking.com launched a new platform, Epic Accommodations, to cater to those expert travellers looking for something a little different.
Paul Hennessy, Chief Marketing Officer of Booking.com, recently said that “everyone has their own version of an ‘epic’ stay”. With Epic Accommodations, Paul says, Booking.com is “celebrating that spirit of adventure, as well as some of the world’s most interesting accommodations – and sending the message that choosing somewhere unusual doesn’t mean compromising on practical considerations”.
Catering to the modern, sophisticated traveller is becoming increasingly more complex and calls for much more dedication, research and adaptation than ever before. The internet and mobile access has made it much easier for travellers to form opinions, make decisions and book on-the-go.
It is incredibly important for hoteliers to be aware that visitors expect customised experiences and high-standard accommodation and facilities, paired with outstanding hospitality. If your brand fails to deliver the best possible experience to your guests, their opinion will most likely live on the Internet forever and can damage your reputation substantially.
But the internet is not all bad news. By integrating an effective channel manager, not only can you stay in touch with your guests, you can also compete with your competitors in terms of deals and offers. Ultimately, this will extend your reach and make luxury more affordable and attainable for all your guests – however sophisticated they may be.