ten commandments robot
181 days ago
 

The Nine (not ten) Commandments of the digital world in hotels

Travel is notoriously insular when it comes to hiring people for the top jobs – often promoting from within or from a rival company.

So when Accor brought in Vivek Badrinath as its deputy CEO earlier this year, many were intrigued to know what the senior exec from the world of mobile phone networks would make of a sector as fragmented and complicated as hotels.

In some respects there are some similarities – thousands of customers across multiple territories; disrupted fairly frequently by external forces and highly competitive.

But, still, the ex-Orange deputy CEO is in that classic “first 100 days” period, where everyone wants to hear either about plans for a brand or their perceptions of the sector they have just joined.

Badrinath was speaking last week at the PhoCusWright Europe event in Dublin, Ireland, showing how some of his digital chops could be applied to a diverse (in terms of brands) and, essentially, human-led corner of the industry.

He has some interesting ideas about how the classic hotel chain should be positioned to cater for the digitally savvy – and mobile-wielding – guest.

It’s simple stuff, covering online booking and check-in, welcome text messages, express departures and up-selling of other services, but almost exclusively served via email or applications.

Knowing lots about a customer before they even arrive (by having a digital relationship with them beforehand) allows staff to do the thing they’re really good at (or should be): hospitality and ensuring guests have a good experience in a hotel.

Accor’s brands do already have a sizeable web presence and distribution network (he’s not coming into a brand completely devoid of progress), with 31% of rooms booked over the web, some 270 million visitors online across the portfolio and 1.5 million fans of its various Facebook pages.

But running a major, global hotel chain is not easy (obviously), so Badrinath has what he calls Accor’s Nine Digital Commandments (and our notes):

1. It’s all about direct

More customers, buying more things, via its own websites – that’s about as straightforward a strategy as you can get.

2. Engagement through video

Multimedia is ideal for the world of hospitality – it showcases an experience far better than any other method pre-trip.

3. Mobile as future no.1 channel for end-to-end customer journey

Not all customers want it, but ensure you have the ability for a relationship with the guest via their devices, from the moment they book to when they return from a trip.

4. Take advantage of metasearch revolution to shift share from OTAs

Say no more. As Badrinath says: “OTAs opened up the market. The value is when they bring people you do not know. But ultimately we want people to come direct.”

5. Customised marketing for a one-to-one strategy

Personalisation has to be at the forefront of CRM and in-destination services. Hotels know more about their guests than ever before.

6. Enhancement of the booking experience

There is no magic formula when it comes website or mobile UEX, except to say it probably has to be smoother, more intuitive, friendlier, and should never fail.

7. New and rising multi-screen world

Brands have to be connected across multiple devices, ensuring potential and existing customers feel they are getting equal (digital) attention regardless of whether it’s the desktop, mobile, tablet or in-room TV.

8. Importance of social media marketing

In some respects the most difficult concept in which to achieve enormous success – but vital at an engagement level simply because so many guests are immersed in social media throughout their daily lives.

9. Deeper use of analytics for marketing

Everyone says they are doing it, but nobody really knows who is doing it well. Nevertheless, collecting and then slicing and dicing that customer data to improve the effectiveness of marketing campaigns is perhaps the most important project any hotel or chain should be involved in.

NB: Ten Commandments image via Shutterstock.

 
 
Kevin May

About the Writer :: Kevin May

Kevin May is editor and a co-founder of Tnooz. He was previously editor of UK-based magazine Travolution for nearly four years and web editor of Media Week UK from 2003 to 2005.

He has also worked in regional newspapers (Essex Enquirer) and started his career in journalism at the Police Gazette at New Scotland Yard in London. He has a degree in criminology and a postgraduate diploma in magazine journalism.

 

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  1. Chris Nicholas

    Fine list – but it left out the only one a hospitality company needs to practice – BE HOSPITABLE. If you can’t keep that one, the other ones won’t help you or save you. You’re going away – it’s just a matter of time and how fast your inhospitable atmosphere get shared on social media. Don’t worry about HOW your property is booked. Worry about who is working in your property; who is coming to work everyday with a desire to make guests feel at HOME?

     
  2. Victoria

    Using online booking services for my travelling for the last couple of years, I can say that a combination of easy online booking process with good natural reviews make wonders. And if you can offer some discounts for early booking or a free Wi-Fi (people ordering travels online love it) – you’ll get even more clients

     
  3. SkipVogt

    One more rule: Don’t rip off travelers. Most of us survive on the road with digital devices. I recently stayed with a friend at a top-name hotel that wanted $16 per day PER DEVICE for wireless. That’s highway robbery. At Motel 6, the wireless is free.

     
  4. Patrick M Ahler

    It’s popular for us “hoteliers” to downplay the role of the OTAs and embrace social media. The reality today is the reverse. Social media has a marginal impact and the OTAs are the dominant force of internet marketing. The reality is not the ideal.

     
  5. RobertKCole

    This is a great list, but just like the “old school” ten commandments, they needed to be framed by The Golden Rule: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you” to provide context. For hotels operating in the digital realm, I would suggest a similar rule (The Silicon Rule?) – “Create Value for Each Guest.” That one also helps bridge the digital and physical worlds.

    Or, if one is short on stone tablets and chiseling technique, just stick to the two most important commandments, which should govern all behavior online, and offline: http://j.mp/2Command ;)

     
 
 

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