The hotel business rebuilds servuctionBy Georges Panayotis - President & CEO - MKG Group
What if it was all for nothing? What if living an unforgettable stay experience, which one will absolutely want to repeat, depended only on impalpable elements? A functional and attractive aesthetic product is now the bare minimum to attract and retain customers. While it is absolutely necessary, it is not enough. For the customer, these services are self-evident. Comfort, ergonomics, a sense of security are essential to good accommodations.
But it is necessary to have a more global and far-reaching vision with a broader focus; offering an accommodations product now means providing a universe, a whole that can meet all needs, all expectations and adapt to all rhythms and lifestyles. Materials and products are now accessible to more and more consumers, and is becoming increasingly difficult to surprise a customer. If you are not fortunate enough to own or operate an exceptional property that conceals hidden treasures of craftsmanship, like the Lutetia, which resuscitated paintings and moldings created more than a century ago when the property was created, or other properties that are in an exceptional architectural setting, then it is necessary to invest in other ways to stand out.
The key to good performance now lies in the success of the customer experience through services, staff, attitude, posture, practical and comprehensive socialization tools that become a genuine sindrofos or travel companion - like Sancho Panza was for Don Quixote- for the guest. A faithful servant available via his or her smartphone that is ever present, from morning to night and even at night. The host must be reachable at all times and able to meet immediate needs or even anticipate them in the same way that a butler would have done more than a century ago; the host must also be able to provide guests with suggestions that can meet their needs.
After all, how can you judge a successful design? How can we hope to build spaces that enchant both Middle Eastern and Asian clientele at once? How can we cope with the overbidding of products and services? Rather than focusing on a battle lost in advance for most institutions, it is better to invest resources in digital tools that are adapted, efficient and readily available. Book a meeting space, find a restaurant selected and certified by the hotelier, plan an out of the ordinary excursion, live like a native thanks to advice on the best bar in the area, know the weather; meet other customers at the property and why not do business with them: this is what makes the difference. It is by putting everything at the client's fingertips that we will build a lasting relationship with them, and it is through this lasting relationship that profits will be maximized.
We must not forget the central role of staff, whether or not they are in direct contact with the client, because accommodations are like beehives where each person has a crucial role to play. Employee training is decisive for the success of the stay. Everyone must have a strong service culture but also carry within them the values of the property in order to be able to translate them into their actions, decisions and attitude. To succeed, therefore, the hotelier must be dedicated to his customers and also take a staff-centered approach to retain and push staff towards excellence.
Current and future technologies offer us boundless possibilities, the only barriers between a hotel owner and his customer are those of our own creativity. In an environment that is constantly changing and undergoing profound transformations, it would be delusional to want to do without soft skills and invest only in hard because it would mean completely missing the foundations of customer relations. The business of hotel establishments will undergo its own mutation as well, since a good part of the service will be provided by applications whose ownership will not be associated with the business. The battle is just beginning, some operators are investing heavily to create these ecosystems at the level of their own brands. After the mutation that has taken place in digital distribution, the next stage will occur within staff and ecosystems created by applications. The revolution of hospitality is still in its infancy.
Georges Panayotis is President of MKG Consulting. Born in a family of hoteliers for three generations, Georges Panayotis, 51, left Greece at the age of 18 to pursue his studies in Political Sciences and to obtain his Master in Management at the French University of Paris Dauphine. He then joined the Novotel chain, which will become the Accor Group, to manage the International Marketing Division. After developing specific marketing tools for the hotel industry, he left the group in 1986 to start his own company, MKG Conseil, now MKG Group. In twenty years, the group has become the European leader in studies and consulting for the Hospitality industry. The company employs over 70 people in four departments: marketing studies, database, quality control and trade press, with two publications HTR Magazine and Hotel Restaurant Weekly. The company helped the development of over 2,000 hotels in France and in Europe, with offices in Paris, Cyprus and London. Georges Panyotis is the founder of the Worldwide Hospitality Awards and the Hotel Makers Forum, and the author of several publications on Marketing and Operations in the hotel business, He is a regular consultant for several television channels, among which Bloomberg Television, and radio networks.
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