ITB 2024 Special Reporting
Differentiation Through The Customized Services.
By Osvaldo Torres Cruz
Friday, 8th May 2009
No significant changes were introduced in the way business was conducted within the Hospitality industry during the 60s, 70s and 80s, i.e., operations remained quite homogeneous, from the way services were offered to the manner in which guests' needs were satisfied. 

However, major social changes affected the industry during the 90s 'globalization and the development of new technologies, for example-, modifying travelers' needs, behavior and characteristics. Guests became more demanding and developed a taste for quality services. 

The XXI century witnesses a bolder industry that is characterized by constant growth and, above all, fierce competition, in which the search for differentiation is the rule.  As a result of the increased competition, guests became aware of the major role they play within the market -as no Hotel can survive without them as a business-, demanding more benefits and a high quality of service, which translates into high satisfaction levels during the stay. Guests have the best weapon at their disposal: the power of choice. 

Globalization has made hotels focus their strategies on the search for tools that allow for differentiation within the market. These tools are service-oriented, focusing on the way the services are offered. Knowing what the guest wants is no longer useful when there are dozens of hotels that can satisfy them by offering the same services.

Today, services are not a differentiation tool in themselves. No sooner something works ?especially if it works well- than it is immediately imitated.  Services that used to be exclusively offered by a group of hotels have become regular services at a great number of establishments.

The key to success is not to offer the same services, but to offer them in a different way. The same service can and must be offered in such a way as to be perceived by guests as unique, and so that it cannot be imitated by the competition. A good way of achieving this goal is to take into consideration the following parameters when offering a service:

1- What  the service is offered for (bearing the goal in mind): This aspect is based on a  differentiation trend: generating positive experiences and feelings through customized service. The guest is seen not only as a rational being but as an emotional being as well. The goal is to elicit positive feelings and emotions through a PERSONALISED EXPERIENCE DESIGN,  thus achieving the GUEST's  EMOTIONAL LOYALTY. 
2- How it is offered: This parameter depends largely on the information obtained from the guest. Determining which type of information has to be collected according to the guest's functional and emotional needs and how it must be used in order to satisfy those needs, in some other words: TO GET DIFFERENTIAL INFORMATION FROM THE GUEST.

3- The way the customized services is considered: Differentiation can be achieved here through the use of another tool: ESTABLISHING CUSTOMISED SERVICE AS A RELATIONAL SERVICE-which allows establishing priceless relations-interactions with the guest, adjusting the actions and services strategy to meet his expectations, thus raising the emotional value of the services.

These parameters help us offering a kind of assistance that will be different from anything the guest has received before. In next articles I will share my experiences using them while butlering.

Osvaldo Torres Cruz
Hotel Butler
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