NEW YORK—Creating exceptional brand experiences is vital to winning the stay and a key driver of business growth. But, is it easier said than done? A report released by Group XP, an experience consultancy firm, details why they believe few hospitality brands are meeting this metric.
“We see experience as a whole, by looking through brand, consumer and product lenses. We’re a collective of world experts in evaluating, designing and delivering extraordinary brand experience across every touchpoint—working with dynamic and demanding clients to create transformative brand experiences,” said Ksenia Starikova, head of growth and innovation, Group XP.
Among the firm’s roster of clients include Hilton, Shangri-La and IHG. Through its work with clients, the team is tasked with ensuring the brands are ready for what the future holds in terms of their owned infrastructure, and also the macro-level impact that they have on culture, noted Starikova. The firm published its first Group XP Experience Index last year, using data from BrandZ, a brand equity database, to quantify the value of exemplary customer experience.
“We realized that not a single hospitality brand made it near the leaderboard, and we wanted to know why,” said Starikova. “Our first step was to dive deep into the data we had on hospitality brands across the world, looking for trends and anomalies. We then brought this data to life by pressure-testing it through a number of experts in the hospitality industry. But we didn’t want to stop at evaluation. We’re also a very creative organization, so we turned our attention to ways that hospitality brands could begin to address the challenges they face and improve their customer experience now and in the future.”
The study unearthed a surprise: no hotel brands appeared in the list of top experience brands. “One might have expected them to, considering that the entire industry is centered around providing guests with exceptional experience. But the fact is that the category lags massively behind when it comes to both its technological landscape and the expectations of consumers,” said Starikova. “Interestingly, the majority of major hotel brands ranked pretty close to each other too, indicating that consumers see very little differentiation when it comes to overall experience in such a saturated market.”
Based on the findings of the Group XP study, Starikova offered these tips to hoteliers:
Take a holistic approach. It’s really important to think beyond the physical hospitality that occurs within the walls of your property. Owning a great experience means thinking about a traveler’s entire journey, right from the first time they even think about booking a hotel room for their trip. Hotels need to work hard to add value at new moments in this journey, which very often takes the form of providing them with relevant, simple and clear information at exactly the right moment.
Mine the data. Hotels should also consider their role as the gatekeepers of some of the most valuable customer insights available to other brands. This information can be put to use in the formation of some excellent partnerships.
Make it mission possible. Similarly, they’re also the gatekeepers to their guests’ experience of the area directly outside of the hotel walls. Each guest has a different “mission” when they come to stay. Helping them achieve this in the most meaningful and personalized way possible will really help improve customer experience.
Tap into technology. Finally, content and service provision is only part of the solution. By using some of the latest innovations in personalization and data analytics, hotels can really help elevate the guest experience to a whole new level.