Posted on Nov 30, 2018
What does digital transformation means for hotels?
When talking about the digital transformation for hotels, here's what a hotelier told me recently. He said, "We missed the first digital wave. We don't want to miss the second."
The Internet took the world by surprise. Almost everybody underestimated how much the web would disrupt hotel sales and marketing. However, it seems that hotels have learned their lesson. They are now getting ready to face the next disruption: MOBILE.
Mobile is not just a device. It is a mindset. And it has set new customer expectations. Keep in mind that the 2 complementary elements of a mobile first e-commerce strategy are personalization and interaction.
Customers have a lot of choices these days. In fact, it has become overwhelming. If you want people to choose you, you need to stand out from the competition. You need to do all you can to become immediately relevant for your customers. For hoteliers, this means adopting an e-commerce strategy that includes chatbots. Hotel chatbots provide a highly relevant experience to each guest.
Engagement is a key metric in assessing the success of online personalization. That, and the data that customers are happy to share with you. They feel that you are providing answers to their problems rather than pushing your product at all costs.
The web was made for search. Unfortunately, browsing is very clumsy on smartphones. Mobile’s DNA is interaction. So making your content smaller won't take you very far. Besides, you have to embrace interaction as the new format of your sales and marketing messages. Interaction is key when it comes to the digital transformation for hotels.
In the last 2 years, Facebook, WhatsApp, WeChat, live chats etc. have become essential to hotel marketing. Instant messaging gives hotels the chance to fit into their customers’ lifestyle. In short, it makes it easy for guests to share their needs and even easier for hotels to answer them. For the first time ever, customers can talk to their hotel on their own terms, the way they like.
Most hoteliers have connected the dots between mobile, messaging and artificial intelligence. Now, the question is, how to fit this emerging ecosystem into your e-commerce strategy.
Rome wasn't built in a day. Which is saying, incremental improvement is easier and more successful than a complete change. Sales is probably where you want to start. This is because any improvement in this area will be quickly palatable. Chatbots can probably be useful to you here.
Be part of the solution
Implementing a new tool alone will not ensure the prompt digital transformation of your hotel. So don't expect that to happen. Hotel chatbots help you automate recurring questions. These represent about 80% of customer queries. However, sometimes your hotel chatbot won’t be able to answer. And that’s where you have the opportunity to take over. Simply because your chatbot will always get you the customer’s name, needs and contact details.
Put the customer first
When you consider adding new technology, think of how it will fit into your customers' journey. Keeping the example of chatbots in mind, how are your customers going to find it? Furthermore, will they be able to properly interact with it?
I remember a challenge we had had with some hotels with older patrons. They had not understood that they were speaking to a hotel chatbot. They wrote sentences that were too long. And the AI could not understand it. The solution was to change the first interaction from the customer asking the first question to the chatbot. This helped frame the conversation. Thus, it enabled the chatbot to help even old people. Hence, choose tech partners that understand your customers.