In Newsletter #2: Sizing Up The Competition The Right Way - How To Improve Your Comp Set; Want to be more successful? Embrace local, promote authenticity and hire the right people; What We Can Learn From Hilton; Apple watches may be all the rage, but success is still 5-10 years away.
Why it matters: Performance is relative. For years you have been benchmarking your property’s occupancy, average daily rate (ADR) and revenue per available room (RevPAR) performance against a chosen competitive set to identify if your property is gaining or losing market share.
As it happens, only 58% of hotels have changed their primary comp set within the past five years (from 2010 through 2014). How often do you analyze the chosen comp set and not just performance?
Given today’s competitive climate, now might be a good time to re-evaluate. When you do, we hope you’re in second place, as a wise IT manager once said to us being first in a comp set is never preferable… it lets you take your foot off the pedal and relax. If you have no one to beat, then you have someone who is trying harder to beat you.
Why it matters: If unique experiences delivered through an authentic desire to serve are the drivers of the hotel industry’s success, then how are you making sure to deliver on this desire?
In a hotel world that demands consistency in everything from rooms development to service levels, how can you break from the cookie cutter mold that is becoming so undesirable? We only have to look as far as the IHG purchase of Kimpton to see the importance of the boutique experience.
Kimpton Hotels, as far as we understand, are able to draw more than half their occupancy from their loyal guests while IHG likely sits somewhere nearer the 15% mark. Why is that? Well among other reasons, Kimpton repositioned their strategy to focus heavily on the local experience and have reaped the rewards since. By embracing their local surroundings in everything from their website content to their marketing and most importantly to their staff interactions, Kimpton Hotels are able to give guests that authentic feel. This means losing scripts. It means empowering your staff. And ultimately it means hiring the right people.
Why it matters: We can learn a lot from how Hilton (and most other chains) are embracing the need for technology in the guest experience.
One such learning our team found compelling from this article is Hilton’s view that technology is not just for technology’s sake, but when implemented correctly, actually frees up time for staff to truly help the guest. If a staff no longer spends 5 minutes checking in a guest, that staff member can spend those 5 minutes servicing the guest, going above and beyond to build a great experience.
We often see hesitations that technology can limit the interaction with guests and thus the perception of service. I remember a report out of Cornell Hospitality on “Cyborg Service” and the negative effect of technology in the guest-staff interaction. Looking back it seems they really missed the point. Done right, technology can and will free your staff to create great experiences that will leave lasting impressions on your guests.
We don’t remember our quick check-ins when traveling. We remember that moment one staff member took the time to make us feel special and unique, and that is what we will tweet about and write reviews on (and tip on!).
Apple watches may be all the rage, but success is still 5-10 years away
Why it matters: We were surprised how many travel brands had Apple Watch apps ready right out of the gate. Such a dormant industry diving in so fast! We remember watching Starwood on the Apple Watch launch video, it was fantastic PR. But that is exactly what it is for now - and for the next 5-10 years, according to Gartner. At $399 a pop, the watches have a ways to go to reach their “plateau of productivity” or in simpler terms, a critical mass worth building an experience around.
Interestingly, the Connected Home - and its industry corollary, the Connected Hotel Room - is a similarly young technology. This is not to say this terrain is not worth exploring. Your guests will love testing them out and thank you for the opportunity to do so, but don’t put too heavy (or costly) an expectation on this just yet.