Minding the Personalization Gap

HOUSTON—There’s a gap between a traveler’s preferences and their actual experiences. As services and offerings become more personalized, hotels have more work to do in this area.  Mindtree, a global technology consulting and services company, conducted a study to dig deep into the needs and wants of the connected traveler.

“For hoteliers, the biggest thing is a need for better personalization. We found from this survey, there’s still a gap in terms of it being provided and, while every hotelier has tried to do so, on a fundamental level there remains a gap,” said Adnan Saulat, GM of travel, transportation & hospitality business at Mindtree, based here.

Mindtree has been focused on the travel industry for 18 years, and the team has a keen awareness of what is happening and changing in the way people want to experience travel. This particular survey, “Expectations vs. Reality: How to Better Serve the Connected Traveler,” is part of a series helping the Mindtree team to assess travelers’ ever-evolving needs and wants, and then, discover where there may be gaps in delivery of service.

“When you look at travel, it’s like a journey. We work with all parts of the journey—airlines, hotels, OTAs, GDS and car rentals—and we are touching all parts of the customer journey,” said Saulat. “Sometimes, when you’re working with one kind of customer, you don’t know if the entire journey relationship is in the same manner. Here is the data and how they’re influenced across the journey.”

Guests’ tastes have changed, but expectations have grown significantly. According to Saulat, when hotel brands delight guests early on, they have to constantly evolve to provide a higher and higher differentiator to the customer.

“From a technology standpoint, various technology is being used and also changing. People are trying to bring all this info together to create a more personalized experience throughout the travel journey,” he said. “It’s happening from the beginning and after the stay as well. What is happening from a customer perspective is that there’s a strong focus on a 360-degree view and ability to personalize on top of it and provide offers and recommendations. It’s today’s reality and that helps you in differentiating much better with customers.”

Here, Saulat outlines a few areas of opportunity for hoteliers to bridge this gap:

Technology: New age technology is here, and the customers are looking at augmented reality, virtual reality and other kinds of technology. “I’m seeing there is a clear need from the customer side and this adoption is going to move in that direction,” he said.

Data: Look at machine learning and use it in terms of analytics on customer data and on the revenue management side, helping to better manage assets. There’s bigger potential.

Service: Not only in terms of the field experience, but the service experience is divided on both sides. It’s about providing the right information and service, at the right time, but also the ability to rectify situations that have gone wrong.

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