Trends & Insights The Independent Hotel Series – Part IV: Putting the “personal” in personalization Laura Badiu // October 26, 2017 // 6 minute read We have made our way to the last part of our Independent Hotel Series, the extension of our latest eBook: Branding Without The Brand Name - An independent Hoteliers Guide To Building Brand Value. Up until now, we talked about how an independent hotel can make the most out of its non-branded status, through finding and marketing what makes it different, carefully working on the SEO, mobile optimization and everything that technology throws its way and also, we focused on reviews and the importance of online reputation management. Now it’s time to get more… personal. More specifically, we’ll talk about why hoteliers should focus on personalization and why this is something that can draw more travelers to an independent hotel. Having a smaller structure usually means that you have more freedom in regards to management. Big chains are more restrictive when it comes to rules, standards and organizational matters. An independent hotel, on the other hand, can establish its own set of rules and procedures, which can enable staff to engage with guests at a deeper level and make their stay more personal and more comfortable. Personalization is something that has great value in the eyes of today’s travelers, especially generation Z. At the end of the day, we are all some sort of Goldilocks: looking for a bed and a meal that is just right for us. Your smaller structure allows you to get closer to the guest Constantly engaging with guests is one of the most beneficial things that you can do for your independent hotel. While making sure that you are not overdoing it and coming off as too persistent in the eyes of the guest, you can still go the extra mile and provide some sort of quick and effective communication channel. The direct messaging service integrated into the TrustYou platform enables an easy, two-way interaction between travelers and the hotel staff, which can definitely be described as personal. By making sure that you are present in all stages of the guest journey and you are constantly providing guests with valuable information, you are letting them know that you care. Simple as that. It is recommended to opt for real-time communication and to keep things as personal as possible, without crossing any lines. Make sure to address guests by their name and to refer to their specific needs and expectations. Apart from personalizing the guest journey, direct messaging has yet another benefit: if you get on-stay feedback from your guests, this gives you the chance of solving any possible issues that might appear, before they make their way into negative post-stay reviews. Asking for feedback while on-site gives travelers that feeling of immediacy, of familiarity, which is more likely to result in positive impressions. Any guest likes knowing that he is important and his needs are being taken care of as fast and as effective as possible. Be present, engage and keep things personal, but without crossing any lines We talked before about social media and why it’s extremely important to be present on as many platforms as possible, in order to engage with your guests. It’s easy to see how communicating in the online world and exchanging information and content can be considered personal. Make sure that you have a designated person who will always reply to requests on social media - look at it as customer support. Also, make use of the user-generated content, because your guests will more likely share their experiences at your hotel - they can check-in, they can post photos, stories, and actual reviews. Keeping an eye on your social media accounts allows you to monitor your hotel’s reputation and it’s no longer something optional. In order to make travelers trust you, you need to show them that you are, first of all, present and second of all, engaged and invested in their journey. When focusing on personalization, you can take a step back and refer once more to what makes your hotel stand out in the crowd. It may be the location, the special history or heritage, the refined amenities, anything that can drive travelers to book your hotel instead of another one. Your small structure allows you to better market your unique traits and focus on original concepts, such as a loyalty program, unique interior design, specific cuisine, etc. Make sure that you are aware of every little detail that contributes to the hotel’s image and makes the most of it, by advertising it on any possible channel. Connecting your systems helps you ease day-to-day operations Apart from going the extra mile for your guests, don’t forget to make things easier for you too. There are multiple ways in which you can simplify the everyday operations inside a hotel, especially when it comes to an independent one. You already know by now that, even though you might have a simpler structure, any hotel needs a certain number of systems in order to function properly and offer guests a seamless experience, from booking to check-out and post-stay. Connecting all of these systems will help you ease operations and make every day-to-day process easier and faster. This can help you and the entire hotel staff to save time and maybe focus on different aspects that can improve your services and reputation. An API (Application Program Interface) is a set of rules and protocols that determine how applications should interact with each other. They enable the safe passage of data between companies, through connections across the web. In the hospitality business, hotels usually use APIs to connect their most common data sources, such as a Property Management System, Customer Relationship Management system, and Online Travel Agency. An independent hotel doesn’t need to share data between properties, so using APIs to connect your individual systems makes things a lot easier to manage. APIs are easy to implement and use and although they might not be in plain sight, they can certainly make a difference in day-to-day operations. Key Takeaways: Focus on personalized guest experiences Keep the lines of communication constantly open and mind social media activity Use APIs to connect your systems to ease operations Don’t forget to download our free eBook to get even more insights and tips on how to make the most off your hotel’s website and your non-branded status!