ISSUE #62 – In this interview, Gaynor Reid, Vice President Communications Asia Pacific for AccorHotels, outlines the new challenges and priorities in the hotel industry and explains how Accor’s strategy is evolving.
What are some new challenges and priorities in the industry in terms of capturing and using data?
With travellers demanding more and more personalised service, more extraordinary experiences and better value for their money, hoteliers have to be smarter about understanding the needs of their guests and how to exceed their expectations.
One of the challenges we face in the industry is the rise of online travel agencies; we need to be smarter with the data we have on our guests so that we can create better experiences for them. This makes loyalty a much greater priority for the group. Membership of our Le Club AccorHotels programme has grown by more than 37% this year in Asia Pacific as we continue to increase the attractiveness of belonging – through VIP services, exclusive sales events and significant savings, private member events and access to extraordinary experiences. We now have to create more tailored and unusual experiences for our guests and data allows us to learn their habits, preferences and behaviours.
The challenge comes in building data without invading privacy or overstepping the mark but increasingly guests are happy to provide their information if they believe it will lead to more individual service.
We now have to create more tailored and unusual experiences for our guests and data allows us to learn their habits, preferences and behaviours.
How is Accor’s strategy evolving?
Hotels and the guest experience have changed dramatically with the rise of social media and the world being connected 24/7. While the physical attributes of the hotel are important, this has now been preceded by the digital window.
While the physical attributes of the hotel are important, its relationship with guests now extends beyond the time of check-in; it begins often months in advance, through the digital window. This is where guests form their first impressions, and a key component of this are reviews on sites like TripAdvisor and Booking.com. As the volume of online reviews continues to rise, user-generated content becomes increasingly important to travellers in making booking decisions, and also to hotels.
Each month, AccorHotels receives around 40,000 reviews and guest feedback in various forms; each review is a snapshot of our guests’ experience, which will help future travellers with decision-making and help us to improve performance. All in all, we analyse over 480,000 pieces of feedback each year and this helps us really understand what matters most to our guests.
Our loyalty programme also plays a big part in helping us understand our guests more – their habits, preferences and patterns, all so that we can provide more targeted and personalised service.
In addition, our recent acquisition of John Paul – a luxury concierge and loyalty business – will help us increase the value of our relationships with our guests and partners and multiply the number of touchpoints we have with them.
We are working with a range of start-ups that are developing state-of-the-art technologies that will either improve hotel performance or enrich the guest experience. In terms of data we are constantly evolving to enable us to capture and utilise guest information to deliver more targeted experiences for our guests.
We have invested over €252 million on our digital plan, with the main aim being improving guest experience.
From a consumer point-of-view, how does Accor’s data strategy impact or improve experience?
We have invested over €252 million on our digital plan, with the main aim being improving guest experience. We use data to understand our guests’ preferences and then build programs that help us deliver service, facilities and applications that improve their experience. For example, our app allows guests to check-in online, order room service while they are on the way from the airport and have their food delivered as soon as they arrive. They can also store their flight/train tickets along with the accommodation and pay using a virtual wallet.
We collect information on our guests’ preferences (high floor, non-smoking, late check-out, favourite newspaper, firm pillow etc.) so that we can deliver more targeted messaging, more bespoke services. We can also see where guests are travelling to and from so that, for example, if we know more Chinese guests are travelling to Phuket we can introduce our Chinese optimum service standards into more hotels in that destination. Data can also help us more finely manage revenue management and other logistical aspects of running our hotels.
AccorHotels is a leading hotelier in Asia Pacific with over 760 hotels across the region and is the largest operator in Singapore, with more than 5,400 rooms and another 1,000 to open in Singapore this year. AccorHotels’ brands cover the full spectrum of the accommodation market, thereby offering travellers the industry’s most comprehensive selection of hotel styles and locations.
Interview with Gaynor Reid, Vice President Communications Asia Pacific, AccorHotels
Article published in the FOCUS Magazine “Driven by Data” — Issue #1 2017