When a traveler books into a hotel they’re taking a chance, and the stakes are high. For most accommodation is a critical part of their out-of-town experience—an oasis at the end of a hectic day, whether they’re travelling for business or pleasure. Guests often choose to stay at big hotel chains to minimize the number of unknown variables. These hospitality giants can better guarantee a consistent experience at every location.
But for some, variety is an important factor. This is where independent hotels can stand out, attract excited guests and build sustainable success with a simple strategy—mastering the bespoke experience.
Bespoke is often associated with luxury, but it actually describes any experience that is specifically tailored to the wants and needs of the consumer. That’s why the term bespoke conjures high-quality suits and tailor-made products. Style and quality are important, but bespoke is about personalization above all else. It’s with this level of customization that smaller, boutique hotels can out-deliver large chains.
A consumer survey by Epsilon showed that 80% of consumers are more likely to develop loyalty for brands that offer a personalized experience. Another survey, this one by Deloitte, shows that when hotels understand their guests, stay frequency increases by 13%. This can be as simple as allowing third-party takeout and bringing it up to their room, or as complex as understanding occasion-based travel (knowing if your guest is here for work or a vacation) and catering to those needs.Offering the bespoke experience that today’s guests expect helps independent hotels stand apart from anonymous hotel chains and attract travelers who want the freedom of a vacation rental combined with the accommodations and amenities of a hotel.
Keeping competitive as an independent hotel doesn’t require you to become ultra-premium. Instead, independent hotels should focus on anticipating their guests’ unique needs in order to provide an ultra-accommodating experience.
Collect and Analyze Data
When it comes to hospitality, data is at the heart of the bespoke experience. Hotels can’t accommodate guests on a truly personal level until they understand them as individuals. Start collecting data from as many interactions as possible—online, in-person and over the phone. Don’t just focus on what they do and how long they stay; data should include minutiae like the number of times they used the on-site gym and their favourite flavour of ice cream. Consolidate all of this information into comprehensive guest profiles, then use those to build a unique experience around each guest. Ideally, you can fulfill requests before guests even have to ask.
Go Beyond Service
Catering to a guest’s every demand might seem like the gold standard, but what guests really want is something they can’t get from an average hotel. That might mean a creative or adventurous outing, a chance to intersect with local culture or a one-of-a-kind design feature. There are hotels for book lovers where every room is themed after a different genre, hotels with stunning views of local geography and even hotels where the staff and guests are involved in a complex murder mystery game. When you offer something that no other hotel in the area can match it creates a compelling reason for guests to choose your property regardless of price or prestige.
Keep Prices Competitive
When you’re building your reputation based on guest experience, it’s tempting to lower rates to attract as many people as possible. Instead of compromising revenue, keep rates consistently competitive and justify them through the value of the bespoke experience. Guests will pay for an experience they can’t get elsewhere.
Organize Around a PMS
Being bespoke is about consistency. It’s great if the front desk knows the name of the guest’s cat, but room service should also know that the guest is allergic to the daisies they use to decorate the breakfast trays. If one aspect of the guest experience feels highly personal while another feels altogether anonymous, the overall impression suffers. A modern property management system lets hotels consolidate every aspect of operations on one platform and share all data (including guest profiles) across the property. Personalization is never easy, but with the right PMS it isn’t overwhelming.
Monitor Opinions Online
Guests are talking about your hotel and their travels in ways they would never tell you directly on social media. Monitoring these channels will help you learn where they’ve found points of friction so you can eliminate them from the travel process. Engaging with guests on social media also helps a hotel feel human and approachable—qualities that many big chains lack. The ability to reach a human is powerful in our automated era—just make sure all departments are sharing notes to guarantee these interactions are as meaningful as possible.
Independent hotels are not at a disadvantage to the mega chains. Research shows that boutique hotels are growing faster than any other segment, underscoring how well-equipped small properties are to compete, even in crowded markets. As long as independent hotels have the means to put guests first, they will always attract a loyal following looking for something out of the ordinary.
RoomKeyPMS offers the building blocks of the bespoke experience. Integrate your operations, leverage your data and upgrade every part of the guest experience all on one platform. Connect with our team to explore a bespoke software solution tailored to your own property.
Photo Credits: Shutterstock / Ozgur Coskun