Travelers are shifting their spending from products to experiences in what’s become a major industry trend. According to Deloitte, experiential spending is rising on recreation, travel and eating out even while it drops on durable goods such as cars, household items and even clothes.

This is good news for hospitality companies, but it also presents a challenge. The emphasis on experience means travelers have higher expectations, so every step of their journey has to be stellar.

Not surprisingly, hotel managers want that too. After all, happy travelers give five-star reviews, while disgruntled guests are far less generous. Fortunately, hotels have plenty of tools at their disposal to help them deliver innovative and exceptional service at key moments.

As Deloitte points out, “Technologies such as AI and machine learning, IoT, and near field communication (NFC) are coming of age, and together share the potential to create personalized moments that matter and bring joy to a travel experience still riddled with pain points, interruptions, and a lingering one-size-fits-all mentality.”

Note the emphasis on “personalized moments.” By leveraging technology to enhance personalization and integrating CRM data into their contact centers, hotel brands can more focus on significant moments of their customer’s journey and excel at making each one wonderful – no matter how small it may be.

Here are five key customer moments hospitality brands can leverage.

Moment #1 – Planning

The travel agent’s day has come and gone. Today, most people start their journey online, researching the destinations they want to visit. They shop around and read reviews to determine where to stay. Because they increasingly rely on hotel websites, as well as online reviews, hospitality brands need to be part of that process.

To improve the customer experience early in the process, make as much information as possible self-service. Travelers search for information at all times of the day and night, so making important information easily available is crucial.

Hotels can also win over travel planners by enabling webchat. AI-driven chatbots can answer and route questions, increasing customer satisfaction as they increase efficiency.

Moment #2 – Checking In

In the past, check-in happened only at the front desk. But hotels that take a more expansive view can begin enhancing the experience even before the customer leaves home. With automatic reminders, hotels connect with travelers early, confirming arrival times and making sure the staff knows what special amenities – such as extra pillows or a room away from the elevator – the guest prefers upon arrival.

A mobile app streamlines the process even further by allowing travelers to check in en route. In the contact center, agents can verify with hotel management that the guest’s room is ready. When travelers arrive, they can bypass the front desk and use the mobile app to open the door to their room. If they do stop by the front desk, an integrated CRM provides the clerk there with a full customer record, so they can greet the traveler by first name and acknowledge their special requests.

Shortly after the guest arrives, the front desk calls to make sure the room meets the traveler’s expectations. The contact center follows up at a predetermined interval via text message and offers concierge services, such as restaurant reservations or theater tickets. It can also alert guests to special hotel events, such as free happy hours in the lounge.

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Moment #3 – Problem Resolution

Today, social media wields great power. If something goes wrong, travelers often broadcast their complaints on Facebook or Twitter. With social media integrated into the contact center’s system, agents can flag issues before they escalate. Because the contact center is integrated with internal communications, agents can reach the front desk manager with a single click. They also have the option to chat with the customer directly via social media, a text message or a phone call. To keep things simple, all these options can be accomplished from a single dashboard.

Moment #4 – Following Up

Even after checkout, engagement continues. The contact center sends each traveler a survey to gather feedback. If the customer isn’t happy, the hotel learns why and can compensate the traveler, whether through extra points or a free night’s stay.

Moment #5 – The Review

When communications are integrated seamlessly into the contact center, the customer experience is vastly improved. But unfortunately, many of the happy customers who would provide a five-star review don’t take the time to write one. Agents can motivate guests with gentle reminders via email.

When hotels go above and beyond to ensure each of these key moments are seamless and stress-free, guests will be happy to award their stay the coveted five stars.

Want to know how 6 different hospitality companies leverage technology to create a memorable travel experience? Click here to view our case studies. >

Original Article