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Rob Jones
Written by Rob Jones
January 22, 2018

How Will Guest Expectations Shape Hospitality Strategy in 2018?

We know that technology and culture are intertwined. For instance, there is a projected 37% expansion in mobile-based commerce expected in 2018 based on growing consumer preferences to manage transactions using their personal devices.

The rise of digital culture around mobile technology is shaping how widely organizations invest in the technology. In turn, the technology is shaping consumer expectations until its use in a location becomes the new standard of how consumers judge great service.This cycle perpetuates itself. But even this example is just a part of a shifting landscape. As consumer expectations change, the technology and processes that hospitality and foodservices organizations have in place should change in parallel to make for exceptional guest experiences in a more consistent way.

How do organizations develop their platforms in 2018 to support that mandate?

2018 fireworks-Unsplash-nordwood-themes-640x426.pngHere are three ways to consider guest expectations as the key filter to choosing and developing technology solutions to serve more intelligent strategy in 2018.


1. Emphasize customer personalization, and utilize the data for future strategy

Making a process more welcoming for guests by enabling them to engage with a brand based on their preferences and histories has been an important trend emerging over the last few years. A necessary component to that by now is the efficient analysis of consumer data to inform future strategy. Through data capture and analysis, the ultimate goal of learning more about guests and their preferences is a key strategy to gaining a competitive advantage in 2018.

Well-integrated loyalty programs that track customer behavior and purchasing history can help organizations build a loyal customer base by providing guests with information on their favorite items, to give them discounts on products they love, and reward them for continuing to come back. These programs as integrated with POS and kiosk solutions also allow hospitality companies to gather the right kind of data for a fuller picture of each conversion which helps to create a long term competitive advantage based on a greater knowledge of the guest. 

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For example, through analysis of incoming consumer data from integrated loyalty applications, a restaurant brand may discover that they have a significant segment of their customer base who love their gluten-free options. This presents an opportunity for growth that may not have emerged otherwise.

An emphasis on personalization and data collection and analysis around it allows organizations to target marketing to this group more effectively. It allows them to re-think menus and special offers applicable to the best and most loyal customers. As a result, organizations can increase revenues and optimize the cost of marketing on the right things. 

2. Customer control via self-serve technology like kiosks

Personalized experiences are enhanced when hospitality organizations add a greater level of customer control. Putting the guest in control allows them to feel a sense of empowerment, managing the process at their own pace. It allows them to approach the ordering process in a non-linear way if necessary, easily adding modifiers to orders, backtracking to make changes as needed, and more, all without any pressure to conform to a standardized process, or at the risk of being misunderstood by a server. Kiosk technology helps to enable this.

When customers are empowered to use self-serve technology like kiosks, they may not only purchase goods or services faster (thereby increasing throughput), but they may feel a higher level of satisfaction in their purchasing experience just because they feel more in charge of things. Besides this, other advantages of kiosk technology that allows a guest control over the order placement process may include:

  • Reduced social discomfort during the ordering process
  • Fewer order errors
  • A greater chance for guests to more freely explore menus with less pressure, giving them more time to consider adding extra items to their orders
  • Attractive interfaces and process for a more memorable experience to share with their friends and family.

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The strategic advantages here are evident. When brands render control to the guest, there is a positive effect on the quality of their visit. It can also lead to greater frequency of visits to locations, better word-of-mouth to the guest's network of friends and family, and greater revenues on each order in some cases in the form of a 20% increase

3. Integrations that create a sense of fluidity for the guest

Today’s consumers increasingly take integrated systems and platforms as a given, affecting their perceptions around a great guest experience accordingly. In large part, this means that functionality around mobile devices are becoming the focus more and more as mentioned earlier. For things like mobile-based payment options, to mobile access to hotel rooms and amenities, guests expect a certain level of technological fluidity when it comes to how they interact with their environment and by extension with the brand, too.

All of this requires an emphasis on integration with internal and external applications for a more fluid experience. In the last few years, cloud technology has enabled this for most organizations, with the burden taken off the guest when it comes to moving from one environment to another. This fluidity imbues a greater sense of freedom to the guest, and therefore a greater sense of welcome, which is the primary goal of any hospitality and food services organization.

As 2018 unfolds, movement away from technology that doesn’t easily “speak” to other systems and environments connecting with the guest experience is likely to continue. Ultimately, this is a response to the expectations of a growing number of consumers who are digital natives, going from one region of their digital worlds to another unencumbered by any technological disparities between properties or devices. When this dynamic is reflected in how an organization plans the guest experience, those interactions become very potent.

Shaping hospitality industry technology in 2018

Customer expectations will continue to shape hospitality technology and strategy in 2018. An integrated technology platform that supports those expectations is one that enhances a positive guest experience the most. An organization needs to find the right balance between intelligent data collection, self-guided experiences that place more control in the hands of guests, and integration and fluidity to meet guests where they are and where they want to be.

Developing a technology platform involves creating an environment for interactions where you can easily build customers’ trust, create convenience, and foster commitments to coming back again. Technology in the cloud that places an emphasis on real data can help your team to better understand and build on your target consumers’ key needs so that it is easier to drive up revenues and secure competitive advantages. 

This year, you can do that in the cloud and grow your business in a scalable way. Let’s talk about how. 

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