Thought Leadership

In the hotel industry, the concept of a digitalized guest experience is somewhat controversial in the luxury sector. When encountering the idea that a guest would be notified via their phone of an offer to upgrade their room, the luxury hotelier’s response is often that digital engagement erodes their brand of interpersonal service. But with technology playing an ever-increasing role in our lives, it is high time to dispel the myth that digital interaction with guests is somehow at odds with luxury hotel experience.

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If you think your guests are too luxurious for digital – think again.

While it is true that hotels are “brick and mortar” businesses, since the advent of the Internet, smart phones, OTAs and booking engines, many components of the business have moved online. Yet many luxury hotel GMs believe that ‘digital’ is contrary to the brand image of their premium product in the mind of their affluent customers.

But, this is simply not the case.

Let’s start with the observable reality. Nowadays, everyone has a phone in their pocket and it’s how we all communicate, record, entertain ourselves, research, and purchase things.  So, if your hotel’s service level means providing service the guest on their terms, then that means providing service via digital interfaces too. And, yes, that means offering upgrades digitally.

But let’s clear up some terms. “Upgrades” are the product. “Upselling” implies a price. Hotels need to separate the idea of upselling with the ability to provide upgrade options as soon as they become available, delivered to your soon-to-be guest on the interface of their choice – their phone. Upgrades are really a way of empowering stay customization and brand engagement.

Or more simply put, if you don’t want to charge for upsells, then don’t. That is your prerogative. But you still need to give your guests the luxury of offering an upgrade when it is operationally available (see True Availability). And you still want to give your guests the peace of mind that they can check-in early or stay later. And if you really want happy guests, give them a way to guarantee a high floor, away from the elevator with a great view. And you don’t have to charge them anything if you prefer. That is entirely up to you.

Luxury hotel GMs must adapt to the digital world

Today, luxury travellers want a convenient digital experience, coupled with exceptional personal service. The power to request services or upgrades at your fingertips is the epitome of an elevated experience. And best of all, in a post-pandemic world, where hotel operations are leaner, digital can boost operations and provide maximization of service while decreasing the cost for all the parts involved in the process.

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