The luxury tourism market in India recorded a growth rate of 12.8% in 2016, the highest in comparison with any other BRICS country, according to a Dun and Bradstreet’s Report on travel in India. Low switching cost for customers and service sensitivity are increasing competition among luxury hotel players. Thus understanding the drivers of consumer perception and compliance to luxury parameters is very essential to sustain in the long run.
Fig 1. Consumer Perception Framework
Our client, a leading Indian chain of five star hotels, underwent restructuring of existing brands to rationalise its footprint in constantly growing competitive market. With this re-structuring, a number of properties were moving up the chain. The major challenge faced by them was to comply with the luxury brand standards while retaining customers and to gain primary position in terms of brand recall.
The problem here was three pronged- to comply with group’s luxury standards and pricing reinforcing luxury positioning, manage customer perception and ensure operational excellence for profitable growth.
Manthan worked towards strategy formulation to explore high-performance potential areas, to respond to current market requirements. We conceptualized and developed a road map to keep the facilities current and focused on service delivery standards.
Customer lifecycle comprising stages of pre-stay, stay and post stay was mapped to identify opportunities. The approach involved working around three key areas:
- Customer preferences
- Competitive landscape
- Operational efficiency
We worked on understanding the main levers of control – core values, risks to be avoided, critical performance variables and strategic moves, by undertaking physical facility reviews and audits to check quality of operations.
Fig 2. Approach Methodology
I. Pre Stay
- Social media presence – Improve engagement metrics like low ‘Time on site’ and high ‘Bounce rate’ by focusing on website remodeling and digital marketing. Online reputation has become one of the main factors directly influencing travellers’ decisions.
Fig 3. Guests Sentiment Analysis
- Segment wise specialisation – The key features most MICE clients look for in hotels are flexibility, personalisation, quick response and most importantly value. Venues which are offering creative options for teambuilding activities and upgraded digital space are in greater demand. Target corporates for weekday events with special price packages and leverage brand association as well as loyalty programs. Understand the importance of point of discovery and third party alliances as key elements for venue decision making.
- Key account management – Develop appropriate strategy identifying acquisition, development and retention of key accounts to achieve overall sales target. Also ensure high penetration into all prospects accounts.
- Predictive intelligence – A powerful tool to make use of information like age, geography and travel patterns, to communicate through specifically designed promotions, reaching the right guests at the right time.
- Process prominence – Optimise process and product delivery. Right from front office to housekeeping, understand prominence of each process. Guests prefer complete package that are customized to individual needs, offering wholesome experience. A customised pre-stay questionnaire can provide a great engagement platform. Comprehensive review and analysis of F&B, health and recreational offerings is essential. A need may arise for a significant change to the internal processes and culture of the organisation.
- Employee engagement – Exceptional customer service can be achieved via training through a combination of two ways, procedural and convivial training. When there is a consistent knowledge standard across employees, guests can rely on any member for support.
III. Post Stay
- Feedback mechanism – Understand the power map to identify influencers of a group of guests and reinforce positive reviews or mitigation negative sentiments by acknowledgement.
- Service recovery – The manner in which a member of staff manages moments of recovery directly transform into value reclamation for the hotel. It is essential to maintain delicate balance between pro-active and presumptive service.
- Real-time metrics dashboard – Monitor KPIs most helpful in making data-driven decisions, like service level, interaction quality, conversion Rate, Revenue Stream, vendor performance rating, opportunity cost. Understand through dashboards why people are not booking (Desired rate unavailable, room type sold out, booked to capacity, restrictions).
- Data analytics – Excavate guest data to regulate what drives loyalty and instil that vision into campaigns and real-time decisions. Based on occupancy rates, F&B consumption and other factors, determine profitability of group versus individual guest. Factors such as seasonality, geo-nationality mix can be taken into account to create special packages with innovative offerings to enhance guest engagement.