Knowledge of the evolution of the habits of travellers is just as relevant as the knowledge of their tastes and desires. If the tourist industry needs to know more about the “what” during travels, it’s no less important to figure out the “how”, when it comes to choosing an experience over others. It is this element that, precisely, conditions the product according to the satisfaction that it produces on its consumers.
In this regard, the American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI) provides very interesting data about the evolution of habits in the hotel consumption, not always reflected in the hospitality industry in general, in Spain, or Latin America, or even the majority of the countries around the world. A quick analysis of this data shows that today, priority is not given to comfort, services, complementary activities and other aspects, but to technology. We live in a technological world, and therefore, citizens adopt a technological habit which cannot be interrupted or diminished, even during their vacation. The improvement which is most appreciated by travellers (at least in America), is the ease of the process of making reservations and personal check-in introduced by technology thanks to online engines. The potential offered by Big Data technology will, without a doubt, determine the evolution of hotel reservations in the coming years.
If the ease of checking in is what provides the most satisfaction to hotel customers nowadays, even above the ease of confirming reservations (thanks to mobile technology), it’s well worth thinking about the future of the reception desk and of the formalities and procedures that take place at the front desk. This feature of hotels, if it were to continue existing, will be completely different in 10 years. In its morphology, in its functionality, in its atmosphere, and its consumption of human capital.
Almost as appreciated as the two factors cited above, with a punctuation of 87 out of 100, personal service becomes the third most desirable aspect of the experience. And therefore, of the hospitality economy. Similar to the changes in the reception desk, human resources in the hospitality industry will be treated differently when the service becomes effectively robotized. The data from the American Customer Satisfaction Index suggest that it is not that customers value highly the services offered by a hotel, but its courtesy and helpfulness. Both of these require a plus in spirituality, sensory experience and creativity of the supposed efficiency of robotized customer service. Human resources not ready to make customers levitate will stop being capital, and even worse, it will stop being human and become robotic.
There are two sides which work hand in hand when aiming for customer satisfaction: the hotel’s web page, and the quality of the rooms in terms of comfort and cleanliness. Their score is high: 84. This indicates that the effort to maintain a hotel in constant evolution and renovations does have its pros. We don’t know if the satisfaction refers to the hotel’s own website or the ever-more-scientific websites of the Online Travel Agencies, but we once again see that technology is an essential side of today’s tourist industry. It’s also worth thinking about the fact that the high score of the cleanliness and comfort aspects is due to a rejuvenation of a hotel chain which in America had previously presented a certain obsolescence.
Another non-essential aspect, but nothing to scoff at due to its high score, is determined by the “customer fidelity programs”, which are more important in America than in Europe. It is possible that the current weakness of the big economic powers around the world helps these programs, which speaks well for their evolution in the coming years. Thanks to new electronic wallet apps such as Apple’s Passbook, the hospitality industry in the coming years will be able, if not to retain, to make their customers loyal through cooperation chains.
Finally, internet access in the rooms is a demand which is always in the traveller’s mind. Its evolution points not only to it being free (or the inclusion of its cost into the cost of the room in the same category as the water, electricity or heating), but also its speed and stability. It won’t be enough to offer a single 40w lightbulb in the center of the room, but a customizable and personalized ambient light system. Equally, it will not suffice to provide sketchy, slow Wi-Fi. You will need a shower of megabits which will be able to help customers enjoy the rich media and virtual reality devices they will bring with them.
Fernando Gallardo |