The Hospitality industry continues to grow at an accelerated pace, generating a larger and more competitive international market.
Thus, tourists have more hotels to choose from at the desired destination, which has led managers to focus their efforts on one of the most successful customer retention and fidelity strategies in their attempt to attract the largest number of guests possible: customer satisfaction achieved through the services rendered.
The global hotel industry is changing. Within this new environment, the way in which traditional hotel services are rendered has evolved. Nowadays, the tendency toward providing customized services offers the possibility of satisfying the most demanding guests. The type of customized services now offered at luxury hotels might sometimes seem exaggerated and be regarded as an excessive way of treating guests, who are ultimately ordinary people. However, it is an effective way of retaining top level customers who seek more than just a good service and prefer service customization and exclusiveness.
Nevertheless, applying this strategy is no longer enough to achieve market leadership. The effects of globalization have also reached hotel services. Thus, exclusiveness has become rare. Services which used to be provided by a small number of luxury hotels are now regularly offered by most hotels, for example: packing, unpacking, shoe-shining, customized wake-up, and so on.
Then, the question is how to differentiate within the growing luxury hotel market. Some hotel managers may consider that the answer is to constantly incorporate new services. However, reality tells us that the current international financial crisis renders this solution ineffective as the cost/benefit ratio has become more relevant.
A new trend toward differentiation has evolved within the Hospitality industry: Experiencing Hotel Services, in which THE WAY IN WHICH SOMETHING IS PROVIDED is more important than WHAT IS PROVIDED. Customized services are not only focused on meeting the practical needs of guests, but also their internal or psychological needs.
The basic principles of the Experiencing Hotel Services approach can be summed up as follows:
1- Creating satisfactory experiences for the guests.
2- Regarding guests not only as rational beings, but as emotional beings as well.
3- Enhancing services as they are provided so that they are perceived as experiences.
4- Involving guests in the process by gathering information regarding their sensations, feelings, thoughts, and lifestyle.
Customized services are an essential tool of the Experiencing Hotel Services approach, as they offer the possibility of establishing or defining style patterns, emphasizing the differences in the ways in which the psychological needs of guests are met.
Customized services allow establishing the individual preferences that trigger positive feelings and emotions, such as comfort, satisfaction and pleasure. Guests who have lived unique experiences, which are valuable in themselves, shall establish a long-lasting, steady relationship with the Hotel, contributing to its differentiation and permanence within the market. Offering fine experiences is becoming one of the key elements of success within the Hotel industry in the new century.
Osvaldo Torres Cruz.