After attending the VRMA annual conference in San Diego last week, one of the key recurring points we kept hearing about was personalisation. From the CEO of HomeAway Brian Sharples’s speech to the general buzz around the conference. This means tailoring the service you offer to each of your guests. Taking note of their individual needs and providing a service that makes them feel valued as a customer and listened to as a consumer. This is not just a fad, but part of a shift towards using technology, social media and the free distribution of information and thought to provide a better service.
The hospitality industry is in a rare position where it can use reviews and the plethora of information on social media to alter its product in response to customer opinion almost immediately. Personalisation is geared toward improving customer experience first, then seeing profits grow as a result of that. Personalisation is part of a larger trend of accommodating travellers. It is not just about making small changes. It involves thinking globally, acting locally and being personal.
Your brand should be recognisable and consistent all around the world. By seeing your brand you customers will know that they can expect a certain level of service and professionalism even if they have not stayed in this property before. Well maintained brands inspire trust from your guests. Having a global brand also shows that you are open to innovation and change. To have a brand that is appealing to a wide range of travellers shows that you keep up with industry changes and the latest technology. Yours is a product that can be relied to the best currently available.
Each of your properties should then attempt to fit in with local culture. It should make an effort to be individual and unique to the area the property is in. Your brand will produce trust and you can still avoid offering a boring, homogenized experience that is the same in any country or city. Travellers are finding more and more value in having unique and exclusive experiences. So by being in touch with the local area and character you can offer authentic, singular experiences. Your guests will benefit and you will add to the richness of the local culture rather than diluting it.
Finally, you can then use the information that your guests give you over their stays to provide a personal service for each of your guests. There is a fine line between using initiative and personalisation and things that breech personal privacy. So do not use information that your guests do not specifically provide you with. You may be able to see from social media or other reviews that some of your guests like certain features or perks, but until this information is shared with you, it may seem intrusive. So, consider the reviews of your property, send out surveys and most of all, speak to your guests. If you can find out what is working for your business from your customers, you are in the best position to capitalise on that.
You have the option to offer small additions and personal touches for your guests at no extra charge. For example, you could allow your guests to choose their own check-in and check-out time. You can provide local knowledge that you know will appeal to certain guests, such as a list of vegetarian restaurants or a guide to museums in the area.
The options for how you choose to personalise your business are up to you. You can list more extravagant extra options and services on your site to generate extra revenue. Onsite concierge services, insurance - the list is endless. If your guests want these, they can add them when booking or simply choose not to. Options, choice and quality are the three tenets that create a better consumer experience.
Travellers now expect a high standard of quality and service from all vacation rentals. Variations in the quality and professionalism within the industry are reducing as businesses manage to carve out a defined niche. Consumers now expect more than just the standard. Personalisation allows you to give them that.