Despite the steady growth forecasted in the meetings, incentives, conferences, and exhibitions (MICE) industry between now and 2028, hotels are facing their share of obstacles. Standing out among a growing list of competitors is increasingly challenging in addition to satisfying customers as digitalized and personalized guest experiences become the expectation.
Jakob Nader, the Sales Director for the Plaza Hotel Group, with responsibility for over 40 Hotels in Germany, Austria, Czech Republic, and the Netherlands is experiencing these challenges first-hand. “It’s exciting to see innovation but for sales and operations it is becoming more difficult with the increased competition within conventional and unconventional hotel establishments,” Nader said.
By leveraging technology to centralize booking and personalize at scale, Nader’s team is delivering better service to customers. According to Nader, “The advancement in technology makes it easier for the guest.” “Everything is available online…the transparency has made it much easier to book over the internet,” he said.
During a recent conversation with Thynk’s Nils Scheers, Nader shared his insights on how hotels can improve their MICE sales and operational processes.
Centralize Booking in one Platform
To deliver exceptional customer service, Nader stressed the importance of tracking guest preferences and the guest journey in one place. “A centralized booking platform saves and implements guest preferences, which is a major factor in the guest journey,” Nader said. “You know their preferences from past stays, so you can implement that in your new properties.”
Understanding guest preferences doesn’t just help build customer loyalty, it creates a deeper sense of belonging. Nader explains that his hotels succeed at generating loyal customers because they’re “making [customers] feel like part of the family.”
Brands with geographically dispersed locations and different classifications need a way to communicate effectively. “Communication between properties is essential,” Nader said.
If customers have a good experience at one property, there is a great opportunity for cross-selling another location. “A hotel CRM that centralizes communication between properties is essential to ensure cross-selling is implemented successfully,” Nader said.
Effective communication coupled with advanced technology makes it possible to target guests when they are browsing for solutions. To capitalize on that opportunity, Nader recommends implementing “Google ads to show up on the websites guests are visiting.”
Personalize at Scale
Once considered a “nice to have,” personalization has become the norm. “Personalization is what guests want,” Nader said. To stand out and compete, hotels need to harness guest data to personalize their experience. “Standardization will be no more,” Nader said. “[Hotels will be doing] a lot of personalization and customization [according] to the client needs, [and reviewing] what they have done in the past [to determine] what they want right now.”
Regardless of a hotel’s market or classification, personalization is here to stay. As the hospitality industry prepares for today and tomorrow, finding ways to “personalize and tailor the services to the needs and preferences of the traveler will be critical.” And to achieve that goal, technology will be at the forefront.
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