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Monday, 18th February 2019
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Getting to know you: Rotana’s path to personalisation

The number of global travellers hit the 1.2 billion mark in 2015, up 4.4% on 2014, according to the UNWTO, and 2016 is on track to break this record. It is a travel boom that is fuelling the growth of airlines, hotels and other industry services the world over. But the downside to this expansion is that it has also driven standardisation. It is evident in the hotel industry where big firms are rolling out multiple brands, which in many instances, has confused the travelling public. In fact, only 37% of business and leisure travellers believe hotel offerings are significantly differentiated, according to IBM’s Hotel 2020 Study.

Alarmingly, this begs to suggest that like all other commodities, price supersedes other factors as the primary driver of hotel selection. It explains why some guests spend so much time searching the internet for the best possible price as a point of differentiation, highlighting the pressing need for hotel groups to break through this perceived ‘sameness’ and offer guests unique experiences, based on their preferences.

For years, hoteliers have been urged to ‘know their guests’, what they want and when they want it – but only recently has customer interaction technology evolved to actually enable us to deliver on this matter. In today’s competitive environment, gathering knowledge of guest choices is more important than ever if hotels are to achieve customer loyalty. While offering competitive rates is a must, understanding customer needs and delivering tailor-made services is what drives true customer satisfaction and brand trust. Ultimately, personalisation can lead to the provision of specialised services and experiences that meet guest preferences and for which they are prepared to pay a premium.

Rotana’s five brands are clearly understood and differentiated in the marketplace, thanks to our effective corporate brand strategy. It is due to our continuous efforts to distinguish the guest experience at portfolio and hotel level that really makes a difference. It is what I like to refer to as ‘The Rotana Way’ - a complex blend of human and digital-led customer service driven strategies and initiatives that show our guests we care about them as individuals. Rotana’s infamous hospitality – that DNA that makes our brand different from the rest is what really drives true personalisation at each and every one of our properties.

Getting the balance between face-to-face and virtual hospitality is essential if we are to make our guests feel they are the most important customer in the room or the restaurant. Our strategy is to empower our guests to make informed choices. Via our online resources and our mobile app, they can cherry pick the services they require, from booking and checking in online, to stipulating dietary needs and pillow choice, but we don’t leave them standing alone with a digital device when what they really need is that irreplaceable human interaction. We have also invested in sophisticated CRM and Online Reputation Management systems which ensure we tailor our marketing messages and respond to customer feedback, both of which lead to better personalisation. We also talk to our guests in person at every touchpoint possible which we believe is the true path to a bespoke guest experiences.

Every hospitality brand worth its salt is forging ahead with a digital strategy designed to achieve the personalisation of products and communications, and so the real point of differentiation when it comes to individual guest requirements is the human touch.

In this respect Rotana is keeping a keen eye on the ‘digital pushback’ trend, which recognises that while customers are increasingly tech savvy, they crave the individual interaction that is lacking in the online world. They are using our technology to book us and to research information on the hotel, but they still want to call and ask questions – and to interact with our knowledgeable front-desk staff when they arrive at our properties.

We employ a multi-cultural team of hospitality professionals and only they can adapt our hotel and F&B offerings to meet the individual needs of our guests. After all, our guests hail from all four corners of the globe and have unique preferences, some of which are highly culture driven. Our Rotana App also offers live chats with customer service agents in order to make pre-arrival arrangements or make use of our concierge services. This, I believe, provides an essential human touchpoint before we meet our guests in person.

The art of conversation is not dead – it is alive and kicking at Rotana where our people are the true providers of personalised guest experiences. In a world where all too often, we see a cookie-cutter approach to hospitality brands, Rotana’s team of passionate hoteliers prove to guests that we are different, and that we care.

If we are to keep our guests coming back for more, we must surprise and delight them, online and in person, to the point that they become our brand ambassadors, sharing their experiences and memories with peers and recommending our hotels and services.

I would like to hear what you think hotels need to do to provide truly personalised service. How can we get to know you better?

 

Omer

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This is a regular column written by Omer Kaddouri, President & CEO for Rotana, which aims at presenting the latest promotions and news across all Rotana properties. For any comments on this column or if you wish to discuss any of the topics related to this column please 

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