Ideas for Hotels and Hospitality

Ideas for hotels and hospitality

I travel a lot. Currently, I allow Priceline to find me a deal. I love good hotels, but I compete on price, because the typical amenities aren’t all that differentiated, so why should I care? I’m thinking a lot about this from the mindset of hoteliers, and also from my interests as a business traveler. I want to run a scenario by you, and see if this makes sense. I’ll make up a hotel name.

Ideas for Hotels and Hospitality

Chris Brogan logs into the M hotel’s profile system. He’s already received his special 16-digit loyalty card. Now, it’s time to express his interests when traveling. Chris prefers:

  • No floor preference.
  • No view preference.
  • No bed preference.
  • No allergy preference.
  • Thick down pillows.
  • Heavy comforter/duvet
  • Room at 70 degrees F.
  • Lemongrass bath products from Lather.com
  • SpaciousPLUS Desk with 6 power outlets and 2 LED lamps.
  • No wifi preference.
  • Herman Miller Aeron chair.
  • Breakfast delivered: oatmeal, fruit, brie, orange juice, pot of black coffee.
  • Wall Street Journal.
  • Swimming pool and/or exercise ball and dumbbells.
  • Late check-out.
  • Opt-in for social features: business, arts, dining
  • Price range: $129 – $199/night plus expenses.

What if I could show up and all that was just known about me? What if I could just swipe my credit card in a reader at the front desk and it would spit out one key (I only lose one at a time), and flash a room number?

This is so easy, and yet, we’re doing hotels as if it’s 100 years ago. I would skip Priceline if everywhere I traveled, I was guaranteed a room at a consistent rate range that I agreed upon. This means I’d give the money directly to the hotel.

Setting up rooms to meet my needs within their chain would be reasonably easy. In fact, if you look at my requests, I have very few specifics, except for the desk arrangements and the pillow. Hell, I even upsold myself room service.

The next-to-last feature is something I’ve always wanted: when I’m traveling, I want the OPTION to opt into a locality-based social network that allows me to pass an intermediary email address (and maybe distorted room number) out to other guests with shared interests. If it went through the hotel, and if it was noted that all emails and phone calls are stored for security purposes, but not reviewed without a warrant, then it would address most of the privacy issues. Yes?

And Then What?

After this worked out well, I’d want to expand concierge services. I want to have a database to start from and narrow down my potential interests in a city, and then have that last mile be served by a human (because one never knows). Here, I could see the concierge using services like Twitter Search and upcoming.org and Yelp and Google Blog Search to add to whatever’s been officially reported. I can see local venues knowing enough to tweet their upcoming events, and/or to share potential additional offers with visitors.

I want hotels to offer B-cycle for me to just grab a bike and go.

I want a virtual assistant at a rate of $20 USD an hour billed out to me should I have other business needs while staying at the hotel. This person can manage anything from basic laundry and store pickups, to simple business functions like copying, or making reservations, or any of those other services one comes into needing while traveling.

I want a selection of business books dropped off with the option to buy. Why can’t Borders or Barnes & Noble partner with the hotel and tap into the profile database, and let me select great books like Trust Agents for me to read while I’m there ($5/day or billed to your card if not in the room at checkout).

I’ll Stop Here

Any opportunity to be helpful is an opportunity to earn money. I’ll give you some of mine if you make my stay a custom fit. It might not look like a lot when you compare the room rates at a luxury hotel, but if you got this consistently from a whole class of travelers that stopped using discount services, wouldn’t you want to increase that revenue stream?

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  • http://twitter.com/mousewords Christine Taylor

    Chris, if you ever go into the hotel biz, let us know–this place sounds awesome :-)

  • http://torrenegra.com/ Alexander Torrenegra

    Great post Chris. As it happens, my company has been working for two years on an online service called LetMeGo.com that allows you to create a traveler's profile that includes your preferences; then, each time you travel, hotels that fit your criteria can bid for your stay. Only hotels that can give you what your looking for will be allowed to submit, and unlike Priceline, we'll let travellers see the details of the bid *before* you book it.

    We will be launching LetMeGo.com soon. If you or any other reader of your blog is interested in beta testing our service,  I can get you an access code. Just email me at alex [at] torrenegra [dot] com.

    By the way, your blog post shares concepts with the “Cluetrain Manifesto”  ( http://cluetrain.com/ ) and Harvard's VRM Project ( http://cyber.law.harvard.edu/projectvrm/Main_Page ).

  • http://www.rockcheetah.com/blog RobertKCole

    Chris, you nailed the issue – it is VALUE. Right now, you see value by getting a four-star hotel room for a 2+ star price on priceline because you are not brand loyal. No hotel group has yet earned your loyalty.

    There are hundreds of hotels throughout the world that can satisfy a majority of your requirements (albeit without an automated profile, but if you send them an e-mail, they will handle it “old-school” and get it done manually without question. The fundamental challenge is being able to match your desired price range – I doubt many could.

    The challenge for the hotels is that you are now accustomed to paying a rate that is deeply discounted for distressed inventory. The services you seek requires a rate premium that exceeds the normal average daily rate for the hotel due to the high degree of personalization required – that is sadly going to push the cost above your $129-199 target range in most major cities.

    The key question is, how much is that degree of personalization worth to you in terms of a price premium before the value is eroded to a point where you decide a commodity product through priceline provides better value?

    Also, if you require late check-out, are you willing to accept late check-in as well, or do you require an early arrival / late departure pattern? That is a big cost issue for the hotel as it impacts room utilization and drives housekeeping labor cost.

    These are some of the questions the hoteliers face. When most do the research, they find that operating margins are not adequate for providing highly customized services at moderate price levels.

    The challenge is typically compounded by the need for front-loaded capital expenditures to support the higher level of service and product delivery. Hotel CapEx is normally prioritized by life safety / regulatory mandates, followed by cost reduction initiatives, then revenue / margin enhancement projects and finally, incremental guest satisfaction programs.

    The bankers and insurance companies that own hotels often look at the bottom line first instead of the guest, which is clearly the wrong approach, but it is what they know and they perceive less risk by taking that approach. The brands and management companies that operate the hotel normally must rely on the hotel owners to provide the funding and endure the risk for such initiatives.

    I am actually not disagreeing with you – it should work the way you describe. It's just the current of the hospitality industry creates structural challenges.

    The value of a highly actionable guest profile is priceless. Not only can it substantially increase guest satisfaction, it can be used to dramatically enhance the value of the hotel services provided during the stay. Additionally, it can also be effectively applied to the inspiration, research, planning and booking phases of the travel process along with appropriate hard, soft & collaborative filtering techniques to provide highly customized recommendations for destinations, hotel properties and activities.

    I predict that there will be some revolutionary changes impacting both online travel and hotel service delivery. Guest needs are clearly defined, technologies are largely available to support those needs. Now all that is required is industry leadership driving innovative design and clever operational processes to deliver the services.

    My bet is a 10-15 year time horizon – I hope you will be available to provide your perspective as consumer needs continue to evolve over that period. We need more influential people calling for change. Nothing gets a good hotelier's attention like a clearly defined guest need; then we will just need some insightful players to embrace the vision and fund the projects.

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  • http://www.theurbansuites.com/ Max Theurbansuites.com

    Nice ones….I do agree with you and I guess that sooner or later indipendent and smart hoteliers reach this point.
    I will ask to our manager to buy 10 bikes and to leave them for our guests. Barcelona ain't that bad on 2 wheels.

  • http://twitter.com/hypenoticbam Barry A. Martin

    Hey Chris, just came across a service that looks like it aims to serve the über traveller/workshifter. http://www.zerobaggage.com/index.html

    From watching half the video, which I found a bit tedious, and reading the entire overview, which was sufficiently light and clear to keep my attention, it looks like they aim to create a network of travel stuff that you can tap into, rather than travelling w/gear, or contribute to, at a preferred rate.

    Kind of like spies who leave passports, cash and undies in different safe-houses, minus the passports and cash.

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  • http://www.netwitsthinktank.com frank barry

    Airlines could easily pick up on some of this (This could apply in many places (as you know)). When I fly do I want wifi, do I want business class, do I like isle or window, do I drink, do I like a pillow/blanket, what type of meal do I usually order, etc…

    A lot of this could be gathered online over time and then they'd have to employ a bit more customer services as passengers boarded the plane to make it happen. They'd have to figure out how to make it quick so that the flight times stayed on track.

    Lot's of opportunity to make flying a bit more pleasant.

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  • tegbrar

    Chris great post, very thought provoking and forward thinking for the hospitality industry. Guest preferences are key to providing exceptional experiences in the hospitality industry and hotels can do so much more with technology in this area. Having said that, our industry is not the best known for embracing innovation, unless forced to do so. I am happy that you are bringing this discussion to the forefront.
    Teg Brar

  • http://www.puneetvaghela.com/ Puneet

    Finding a good hotel at a competitive price is difficult in the UK. Good hotels charge over the top prices, and the less you pay, the more you regret not paying more. It's a viscious cycle!

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  • http://www.breastpumpdeals.com/avent-isis-iq-duo-breast-pump.html Isis

    Great post, Chris.Very thought provoking.Thanks for sharing.

  • http://www.breastpumpdeals.com/avent-isis-iq-duo-breast-pump.html Isis

    Great post, Chris.Very thought provoking.Thanks for sharing.

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  • http://www.santabarbara-hotels.net/santabarbaracheaphotels.htm Alex

    My course is called Hospitality Management- Hotel and Resort.
    What are some career ideas for when I finish my course that pay well?

    http://www.santabarbara-hotels.net/santabarbara

  • MaxWhite

    @Alex
    Please make sure that the program is accredited within the industry and steer clear of online, for-profit schools such as capella, u of phoenix, stratford career, penn foster, kaplan, walden, devry and others: http://www.ripoffreport.com and can type into search.

    http://www.newyork-hotels.us

  • Australian visa

    Excellent post. Nice blog. I'll be back for more of your post mate


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  • http://www.memorybits.co.uk/ micro sd

    Guest preferences exceptional experience in the hospitality industry with hotels and so much more technology is key in this area can. Said, the best our industry has known for innovation adoption, unless it is forced to Having. I'm glad that you are bringing forward this discussion.

  • http://www.mushroomfieldguides.com/stuffed.html Alex

    Excellent site by the way. I didnt know what keyword luv was until i came across your site via yahoo so i will definately apply it to my own blog.

    http://www.downtownhotels.org/

  • http://www.smartcomm.co.uk/services/residential/solutions/ Home Automation

    Wow, that is a load of wishes out of hotels and hospitality. Not to crazy like some of the lists I have come across. But all this can come true as we enter our futuristic future. It is predicted that home automation along with commercial and hotel automation will become so advanced in some time that the mere complexity of the system will be unable to be know by general public. For such advancements obviously competent and skilled professionals will be required. Sometimes, we are unaware that the wishes we make or the ideas that we generate require a complete plan and a defined design which is far complex from a mere string of words :)

  • Malique72

    how hotels implement its standard?

  • Anonymous

    You have some excellent ideas that would make a great improvement if they were implemented by the hotels. When it comes to loyal customer cards, there are several London Hotels that do just that: store all your personal details on a customer card and they swipe that in front of an IR reader and you only need to sign for the bill, and you’re already checked in.

  • www.smartcomm.co.uk

    i think they should offer more courses in service marketing in business schools so that HoReCa industry flourishes!

  • Ronnie Sparks

    I have a great idea for a hotel chain or brand….

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      please share it

  • HotelGM

    Hello, lots of good discussion here, let me provide a word from the hotelier side. Your requests and ideas are not uncommon or outlandish at all. It was actually pretty common place years ago to get this type of personalized service. Hotels use to cater to your request when it was a person to person business. Travel agents would listen to all your requests and search for a hotel/airline that would accomodate them for the best value. The hotels had larger staffs to accomodate these personal touches like conceirge service, baggage handing, valet, etc… Now as technology advances corner store travel agents are being replaced by online websites like priceline, hotwire, orbitz etc… These sites push low low rates not value, this is causing hotels to strip services and features to be able to compete in this price sensitive market. Over the years these site have been growing by leaps and bounds due to travelers looking for the best deal not the best service. Quite often these sites will knowingly book a room at a hotel for you that does not meet your requests. They now get your money and leave the hotel to deal with an upset traveler that was mislead by the website not the hotel itself. Hotel chains are now starting to design their hotels based this new breed of travelers by making the hotels all cookiecutter clones of one another. They are all set up this way to provide a “consistent guest experience” from one hotel to another wich in lamens terms means cost effective. I guess to sum up my points is that hotels have lost the “service industry” mentality because guest like you that are willing to pay alittle more for personalized service are becoming fewer and more uncommon each day.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_3D4FRGOTHNZFNM5KYEYLX73F5A Sfaliatel Sfaliatel

    You accept a report made a breakthrough that would perform if they were abundant implemented by hotels.

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  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_3OBVRAAITJAQAISOZG3TTG2BCA Alice Jones

    The challenge is typically compounded by the need for front-loaded capital expenditures to support the higher level of service and product delivery. Hotel CapEx is normally prioritized by life safety / regulatory mandates, followed by cost reduction initiatives, then revenue / margin enhancement projects and finally, incremental guest satisfaction programs. 

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