What Hotels Can Learn from Amazon Go

Last week, online retail giant, Amazon, wowed the internet community when they released this preview of their new shopping innovation, Amazon Go. The concept is a “Just Walk Out” shopping model that allows customers to buy what they need without having to stand in a checkout line.

The news filtered through most major news outlets, all with the collective opinion that Amazon was changing retail stores as we know them today. While the technology can be complicated, most critics agree that customer demand for this type of shopping experience will rise.

But why does this shake-up in the retail space also important for hotels? As with most of the previous mega-trends we’ve already experienced (mobile apps, free wifi, one-click booking) the concepts usually start in the retail space and expand into hospitality and other industries. While the transition of these technologies from retail to the hotel industry may still be a few years off, there are still some key values hotels can take away in order to better understand the evolving needs of hotel guests.


The Value of Convenience


Amazon originally changed the retail shopping game when it introduced new, more convenient ways to shop. Fast shipping, one-click purchasing, and membership accounts skyrocketed their business over the last several years. Over the years, they learned that customer convenience is the ultimate way to influence purchase behavior and increase revenues. Now, with Amazon Go, the ease of online shopping is paired with the in-store grocery shopping experience, providing an unprecedented level of convenience for their target consumers.

Implementing a strategy with convenience at the helm similarly benefits hotels looking to increase ancillary revenues. Begin by identifying and removing obstacles during each stage of a the buying cycle. In the discovery phase, ensure guests know about the services available by using effective forms of marketing. For instance, sending a text message to your guests elicits a higher open rate vs. email. Later on in the buying cycle, seamless methods of purchase are of greater importance. This includes mobile-friendly sites, in-app purchases, and various accepted forms of payment.


The Use-Case of Customer Intelligence


Another reason Amazon Go has the newswires buzzing has to do with the advancement of customer information. The tracking technology that allows Amazon Go to charge customers based on what they walk out of the store with is usable for more than just payment resolution. Data gathered about purchase behavior can inform discrepancies in store layout, effectiveness of marketing campaigns, or even the need for price reductions in order to move product.

For hotels, tracking the actions and behaviors of guests can help inform hotel strategy in a deeper way than ever before. As an example, Radio-Frequency Identification (RFID) technology helps guests access hotel services more easily by reading their mobile devices, but also provides significant levels of detail around guest behaviors while onsite. Instead of asking a guest what amenities or services they utilized, the information is at your fingertips automatically. By efficiently collecting this data, your hotel has more time to improve the services and amenities most important to your guests and continue to build a great hotel in the eyes of your customer.


Lessons from Amazon Go


In conclusion, continue to keep an eye on these mega-trends and think about how they may influence the hospitality industry in the near future. Some innovations are a niche fit in their particular market, but more often than not there is a lesson to be learned from winning strategies among various industries.

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