Written by: Miriam Tessier
With the new demand for quality by tourism consumers today, the room's customisation has become an effective strategy to meet the new demands of customers. Especially for boutique hotels, defining the characteristics of the hotel’s rooms with a closer approach to customer preferences or interests means greater customer satisfaction, loyalty and further differentiation inside the tourism market.
You know well that the tourism market is constantly growing, that actually entering this sector is increasingly accessible for different company sizes. In the same way the hotel market is very versatile, dynamic. Thanks to electronic commerce you can reach your audience easily, as long as you follow an online marketing strategy tailored to the needs of your company.
However, the growth of the hospitality market also implies a difficulty to stand out from a competition that offers similar services, just as it competes for prices, without finally innovating or providing value to the customer.
Instead of betting on competing with prices, which can lead to losses instead of profits, hotel establishments with greater customer knowledge are betting on improving the quality of the customer experience. To innovate in the hotel guest experience, it is true that boutique hotels are more likely to opt for novelties, since they do not depend on the global identity of a hotel chain.
Customizing the hotel room is one of these bets for innovation. The customer's concern for his room goes beyond cleaning; It has to be special, it has to fit the customer’s needs and preferences. And the more the room gets closer to their personal interests, the greater the client's feeling of noticing the commitment of your hotel to satisfy them, in providing an experience that you cannot find in another establishment.
A correct personalization of the room is an opportunity to reinforce the values of your brand, and of course, a loyalty strategy to turn the guest into a repeat customer.
Knowing who comes to visit the hotel, which are their concerns, hobbies, lifestyle and personality are obviously the key points for room customization. Today you have to keep in mind that the customer is more demanding but is also more suspicious about the use of his/her personal information. Therefore, all interactions with your client must not be invasive. A misstep can mean customer dissatisfaction and could mean losing the opportunity to build loyalty.
To know your customers in depth, we can talk about how to get to know them more in three stages.
It is the first contact and the most important one. Your client books his/her stay in your hotel, gives his/her first data, preferences, and soon. It is a delicate stage; although the purchase has been done, the possibility of cancelling the reservation may exist if the appropriate treatment is not given to the client.
How can you get a valuable first source of information? Through this initial data. For example, if your guest is a parent, if your guest plays sports, if he/she uses the Internet very frequently in his/her day-to-day life, among other posibilties.
Indeed, taking advantage of the new information that is entering your hotel with each new booking process will allow you to know your guests in greater depth. Of course, it will also allow you to design rooms more suited to your client's preferences.
Focus on a single database the interactions between your company and your customers in a CRM to distribute and maximize customer knowledge, to understand and anticipate their needs.
The guests of the boutique hotel like to know that their opinion is valued; obviously, among their different thoughts, they are thinking about if their opinion is being helpful for the improvement of the establishment.
Instead of forcing them to express their opinion, simply give them the opportunity to do so. If your client is satisfied or wishes to share his/her ideas or suggestions, he/she will do it naturally.
The hardest work is already done. However, contacting with the client after their experience is just as important as the efforts made during their visit.
It is time to introduce email marketing, that classic and effective tool that provides loyalty to the customer, apart from reaching guests directly. The key, is to resume contact with the customer non-invasively.
Give them the opportunity to offer his opinion, to share their feelings about their experience in your hotel. Remember that in email marketing it is very important to communicate with the client in a customised way.
After having analysed the preferences of your customers, you will surely know who comes to visit your hotel. Whether the guest is passionate about arts or not, the human being always appreciates waking up surrounded by beauty.
The personalization of the room is not a matter of investing as much as possible in decoration, but a matter of adjusting only to what your client needs. The room should have a personalized charm, without losing elegance or originality.
First, think about making the room cozy, practical, but above all comfortable. Remember that guests want to rest in a bright and spacious place. In this way you have to take advantage of all the details in it, giving importance to natural light.
You have to consider the place where your hotel is located in relation to the type of guest that will be accommodated. A slight touch of the city - upholstery, ceramics or glassware - is a good way to attract and make the stay an unforgettable experience.
However, it is important not to fall into traditional decoration – especially if the guest has some knowledge of art -. If the person visiting your hotel is really passionate about decoration, you will undoubtedly have to face a challenge, since it is always more difficult to impress an expert.
Do not forget to bring a certain colour to give joy, energy and movement. The management of this element is very important, since the human eye transforms and sends the information of what it sees to our brain through electrical impulses. Not all colours convey the same, so take your time when choosing them, because they will make a difference in the experience of your hotel.
Perhaps the greens and blues, in quiet locations and aimed at a more veteran audience, would be a good decoration option, since they convey calm and peace respectively. If the guest wants to feel more welcoming, do not hesitate to add some decoration related to citrus colours, such as orange and yellow. However, red is rather cheerful and positive, which, without excess, is a good option for a family room.
Innovation is the best way to stand out. But how and in what way can it be achieved?
Being different, attractive, youthful – technology is the best way to include all three characteristics. The use of the smartphone to access the room is a fairly new and effective technique that some hotels have already begun to apply it. Including television in the bathroom mirror is very useful to expedite the shower task for families with children. Without any doubt, for those traveling alone or for couples, taking a relaxing bath while watching a movie can become an unforgettable experience.
Even if it seems futuristic, the truth is that robots and Artificial Intelligence (AI) are already part of the operation of hotels.
How have other hotels or other companies managed to customize their rooms? Here are some examples of success.
Whitbread, the leading British company, launched the hub concept through its Premier Inn hotels that allows room temperature to be adjusted before the guest arrives and also programs the preferred TV channels.
In the case of Nomad Hotels has included a touch screen to regulate the air conditioning, heating and blinds.
For sports and healthy life lovers, MiHotel in Lyon (France) offers yoga courses in their rooms.
Virgin Hotels has decided to obtain customer preferences through their ‘Lucy’ application.
Interior designers also have a great source of inspiration for custom room decoration. Interior designer Maud Bury has chosen to create a modern room concept: ‘My Room Concept’. She has collaborated with companies such as Phillips, Muzeo, Somfy and Hatworth for this new room concept.
Very inspiring, right? Then it is time to start knowing your client more deeply, and take advantage of your boutique hotel rooms as a potential differentiator of your marketing strategy.