Look Beyond the Buy
Gartner research on digital experiences for both B2C and B2B consumers show that differentiating digital experiences is difficult. A common theme among Gartner’s Genius Brands in the Travel & Hospitality Digital IQ is a consistent experience across channels. But there’s more to it. What sets brands apart in digital (or IRL), is when a brand creates a feeling of hospitality that extends across their journey entire journey with you, regardless of channel. To create a sense of digital hospitality, you must strive to identify the pivotal moments across the end-to-end journey of your target customer personas. The act of buying something is relatively easy, but preventing buyer’s remorse is much harder. It involves understanding your customer needs through a much wider lens—not just what they need to buy, but what they need stay with you and to feel confident that they want to stay again. Consider understanding where your brand can help your customers learn about their own needs so that they make informed choices about their stay with you. Understand what their goals are so that you can show support of those objectives at all stages of their journey with you. When you think of your favorite hospitality brands, was it the purchase process that makes them your favorite—or is it something else?
Differentiation Starts with Understanding the Details
This brings me back full circle to my mini hospitality venture. I conducted an end-to-end journey mapping exercise for different guest personas to inform how I deliver the guest experience. Whatever channel my guests are using, my goal is for our guests to they feel as though I have anticipated their questions. For example, I created digital and physical how-to guides for everything from checking-in to check-out, as well as recommendations for where to get the best breakfast sandwich in the neighborhood. I help guests visualize what it’s like live in the space by providing pictures that are carefully ordered to create a visual narrative vs. a random selection of pictures. Another thing that I learned from this exercise is the importance of transparency and accessibility. I am transparent about the cancellation policy, who the unit is not idea for, how to access the unit at all hours and that is has stair, and detailed instructions about parking parking. Based on the guest personas, I make sure that the unit is equipped with what they need to feel like their trip was successful whether they are staying for vacation or for work. As an added bonus, I leave a handwritten note next to the coffee station (it is stocked with coffee from a local roaster) welcoming our guests and letting them know that I am here for questions a short list of my favorite local restaurants and shops. This attention to detail, to the needs of my customer personas has driven returns. I have all five start ratings and repeat bookings. If you want to differentiate your brand, start with understanding the objectives of your key customer personas across their end-to-end journey to take their experience with you from neutral to notable. To help you build loyalty-driving experiences across your customer journeys, see the report Use a Customer-First, Channel-Second Strategy to Design Customer Experiences That Drive Loyalty and associated tool (note you’ll need a subscription to access).
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