What makes a luxury property different from other hotels? While some might say it’s the grandeur of the property – the building, the artwork, the furniture – others may say it’s the amenities – the heated bathroom floors, lush towels and floor-length Turkish cotton robes, incredible gourmet food selections, and an undeniable service level from staff members.
While these answers are correct, there is one thing that is missing: personalized hospitality moments that reflect many of these features but take the guest’s experience to an elevated level. Expensive things and guest “service” isn’t enough.
“(Luxury hotels) recognize the potential importance of hospitality within the context of luxury, an opportunity to provide unique personalized brand experiences and exceptional service,” noted Ecole hôtelière de Lausanne, widely recognized as one of the world’s best hotel management schools, in a recent EHL Insights article. “It includes an individual interpretation and expression of innovation and quality, and defining how they will deliver it, which is unique to the brand and is then built into their service philosophy and values.”
Traditional service guidelines often limit employees from providing the level of hospitality experiences that guests expect from a luxury resort. Hospitality is about the property’s ability to create those authentic moments of exceptional experience delivered by empowered, energized team members using the rich tools that arm them with detailed insights that show they truly know their guests. It’s granting staff permission to act autonomously on behalf of the resort to deliver true hospitality moments that exude the luxury experiences guests expect from a luxury property.
Hospitality Moments Defined
As noted in the same EHL Insights article, “Luxury, it seems, can be a small thing such as creating a meaningful experience or showing you care. But large or small, it should create an emotional connection with people, the product and the brand.”
Through a modern, integrated property management system, luxury properties can learn more about their guests from the moment they reserve their room through every touchpoint on their journey – prearrival, when on-site, and even after they return home. When staff members have access to their guests’ information, they can view personalized preferences including a particular view from their favorite table, a special bottle of wine, their tee time preferences and if they are celebrating a special event when they arrive. This data becomes richer and more insightful for loyal, repeat guests.
By connecting with guests before they arrive, the property can track if their flights are delayed or if they will be late for their dinner reservation. In a typical service scenario, staff would follow the set protocol of canceling a room reservation after a guest doesn’t show up on time or giving their table away to another guest in the restaurant if they miss their reservation. In a luxury property powered by a comprehensive property management solution, the staff stays informed in real time and is truly empowered to step in and create those rich hospitality moments, creating a radically different situation. The guests would be greeted by name upon arrival – no matter when they arrive – and offered a welcome beverage. The guests would go straight to their room at their leisure via mobile check-in and digital keys and are assured the restaurant will continue to hold their table until they are ready for dinner. Once in their room, their luggage would be waiting for them, they would have time to change, while noticing the special note wishing them a happy 30th anniversary and thanking them for returning to the property. It might also include a gift certificate for the spa. The couple can take their time to make their way to the restaurant, where they would be greeted by name and escorted to their favorite table.
The hotel and its staff in the second scenario have transformed what could have been a nightmare travel experience defined by heightened frustration into a truly positive experience ensuring they are able to enjoy their stay and still celebrate their special occasion without the stress or disappointment. This is an opportunity for luxury properties to create a personalized arrival experience, fully engage their guests and create champions for their brand who are willing to share their experiences with others online.
Why Will Nothing Less Than Hospitality Moments Do?
The EHL article adds, “Luxury is when I get exactly what I want, when I want it, and how I want it, before I’ve actually asked for it.” While rules have their place when it comes to operational efficiency and safety, creating exceptional experiences should always supersede traditional protocols when it comes to guest expectations from a luxury property. Now more than ever, this perspective prevails.
Travelers are planning far more in advance than they did before the pandemic. Travelers are booking their U.S. trips 58 days in advance and 80 days out for international trips (compared to 44 days and 60 days in 2019). Hotels with next era property management systems with advanced personalization capabilities provide luxury property staff with ample time to forge relationships with guests even before they set foot on their property, keep them engaged through the communication channel of their choice, send them updates and upsell offers through real-time triggers and truly understand them by reviewing their guest profiles and history.
The global luxury hotel market is projected to reach $125.46 billion (USD) by 2027, with North America predicted as the highest revenue share. In a world where the term “luxury” is overused, hotels must elevate their brand by providing staff with the freedom to identify hospitality moments and act on them using advanced tools and systems to provide truly exceptional luxury experiences to guests. The result will be luxury hotels that rise above the rest by creating brand champions willing to share their unforgettable five-star experiences backed by many return stays and memorable visits for years to come.